African American Cultural Tour

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  • Arrive in Hampton and visit the Hampton History Museum. Even as the history of Hampton is aligned with major events in American history, so too is the city’s history intertwined with the story of African Americans in this country. From the Seventeenth Century Gallery with its commentary on the coming of the first Africans to Virginia in 1619 through the descriptions of black sailors on merchant ships and the bravery of the slave Cesar Tarrant in Virginia’s Revolutionary War Navy, each gallery addresses the contributions of African Americans to Hampton history.
  • Continue your tour with a visit to Hampton University, and tour the waterfront campus. The campus contains five National Historic Landmarks. First opened in 1868 as the Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute, the school was dedicated to the education of thousands of newly freed Southern slaves. The school provided African Americans with the manual and teaching skills they would need to survive in post-Civil War America. Campus sites include the Memorial Chapel, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Garden & Statue and Emancipation Oak, where Hampton residents gathered in 1863 to hear President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation read for the first time.
  • Enjoy the best views of the Chesapeake Bay as you savor gourmet dining in the beautifully restored Historic Chamberlin. Once a grand and historic hotel built in 1928, The Historic Chamberlin is now a waterfront retirement community. After lunch enjoy a breathtaking view from the hotel’s garden rooftop of the Hampton Roads harbor and the historic stone fort on Old Point Comfort.
  • Continue your trip with a visit to Historic Fort Monroe. It was on this site in 1619 at Old Point Comfort that “twenty and odd” Africans first arrived on Virginia soil. More than two centuries later in May 1861, Major General Benjamin Butler accepted three runaway slaves under the declaration that they were “contraband of war” and would therefore not be returned to their owners. As news of this extraordinary development spread, Fort Monroe quickly earned the nickname “Freedom’s Fortress.”
  • Visit the Virginia Air & Space Center. An exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black aviators to fly for the U.S. in wartime combat missions, chronicles the African American’s role in the Army Air Corps. Include an IMAX® film for a truly spectacular visit.
  • Enjoy the history of Little England Chapel. Built in 1879,it is the only known African missionary chapel in the state of Virginia.
  • Discover Aberdeen Gardens, a historic neighborhood built for and by African Americans in 1935 as part of F.D.R.’s New Deal Settlement. The Aberdeen Gardens Museum preserves the neighborhood’s rich heritage and honors the original residents.
  • Enjoy dinner and shopping at Peninsula Town Center or in Downtown Hampton before departing for home.
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