Photo Credit: TN
Here’s How To Explore Black History In Richmond, Virginia
What do you know about Virginia’s Black history? Are you familiar with Black leaders or the contributions of Black artists? If you don’t have the answers, we’ve got you covered, starting in Richmond— the state’s capital.
“Historically, it has been said that one in four African Americans can trace their ancestry back to this city specifically,” Tameka Jefferson, the community relations manager for Visit Richmond tells Travel Noire. “Several community partners have been doing the work for so long but Visit Richmond realized we need to start promoting the Black history and culture as well.”
In 2019, Visit Richmond teamed up with community leaders and organizations to launch Black RVA to increase African American travel and highlight the Black culture and history in the city.
Here are five ways to explore Black history in Richmond, Virginia this Black History Month and beyond.
1. Start Your Journey At the Museums
You can learn more about the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans in Virginia by starting at The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia with its collection of art, artifacts, picture, rare books, and more.
The museum is currently located in the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood in The Leigh Street Armory.
Another gem is The Valentine Museum.
Here is where you can explore Jackson Ward – the nation’s first historically registered Black urban neighborhood. The neighborhood was known as the “Black Wall Street of the South” and “Birthplace of Black Entrepreneurship” from the early 1920s until the late 1940s.
2. Honor Those Who Sacrificed By Visiting Black Monuments
There are a few monuments and plaques that you can visit through walking tours to reflect on those who not only sacrificed their lives, but also defied the odds during the time.
The Emancipation and Freedom Monument is one of the few monuments nationwide that commemorates those enslaved. The memorial features two 12-foot bronze statues representing a man, woman, and infant newly freed from slavery.
Located at 1486 East Main sits the Slavery Reconciliation Statue. The monument shows two figures embracing, covered with images of shackles and slave ships. When you’re looking at it, you will notice a triangle, which represents Richmond; the city of Liverpool, England; and the Republic of Benin. All three places played a prominent role in the slave trade.
The statue symbolizes a commitment to new relationships based on honesty and forgiveness.
When you’re in Jackson Ward, you don’t want to miss the Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, honoring the young entertainer who helped to break down barriers in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s through tap dancing, acting, and signing.
3. Take Awe In Black Culture Through Art
Richmond has a dynamic street art scene thanks to its Black artists. There are a ton of murals and public art displays you can take awe in, including The Hamilton Glass’ Mending Walls – a healing public art project bringing local artists together to address issues of racial injustice.
4. Bite Into Black Culture
And we mean that literally.
Start your day at Urban Hang Suites for a cup of coffee or tea, and breakfast, which is served all day.
Next, try Lillie Pearl for a fusion of West African and Southern cuisine in one place.
If you’re in need of comfort food, head over to Ms. Girlee’s Kitchen. The sibling-duo Helen Holmes and her younger brother and chef, Frank Crump are cooking up soul food using their grandmother’s recipes. Yum!
5. Support Other Local Businesses
Richmond is full of Black-owned businesses to support during your trip.
In the mood to wind down? Brun is a cigar and whiskey lounge where people can socialize and grab something to eat.
Another good place to try is C’est Le Vin where you can enjoy wine with a side of art.
Go home with unique statement pieces and handbags by shopping at Sassy Jones Boutique.