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Black Heritage Travel: Southeastern United States: North Carolina
"Been There!" = Notes about places I've visited.

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North Carolina

NC African American Culture Tour

AACT represents the collaborative efforts of fourteen African American non-profit organizations that have come together to provide you with all the information you need to explore the rich, African American cultural heritage of North Carolina.

Visit NC - North Carolina Division of Tourism

A wide array of visitor information including dining, lodging, events and attractions, easily accessed using their Search Engine. Download The Rich Heritage of African Americans, a gorgeous free 56-page brochure with foreward by Professor John Hope Franklin. The brochure includes a brief history of African Americans in North Carolina, a reference map with historic and cultural sites, events, festivals, celebrations, artists, musicians and more!

Asheville - YMI Cultural Center

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the YMI has served Asheville's minority citizens since it was first established in 1893 as the Young Men's Institute. It houses numerous exhibits, many dealing with the history of African Americans in Western North Carolina, and sponsors such cultural events as Asheville's Goombay! Festival, an Annual Kwanzaa Celebration and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. The YMI Cultural Center is an Asheville landmark in the heart of downtown, convenient to City Hall, Pack Square, Pack Place and art galleries and other cultural centers.

Bethania - Historic Oak Grove School

The Washington Town community was founded by freed slaves and is now known as the Oak Grove Community. The decendents of the Washington family donated the land on which the Oak Grove School was built. The Oak Grove School was built around 1910. Tours are provided by appointment only. For more information on the Historic Oak Grove School call 336-722-5138 ext. 239

Creswell - Somerset Place

Somerset Place is an antebellum plantation offering an insightful view of life before the Civil War. It is one of North Carolina's most significant African American (African-American) heritage sites. During its existence (1785-1865) it encompassed 100,000 acres and became one of North Carolina's most prosperous rice, corn and wheat plantations and home to more than three hundred slaves and the Collins Family, the wealthy planters. Eighty of the slaves were brought to Somerset directly from thier West African homeland in 1786 due to their firsthand knowledge of rice cultivation Guided tours are available of the site including the Collins mansion and a reconstructed slave cabin.

The web site provides historical & visitor information, plus an events calendar - the most significant of which is the annual gathering of descendants and friends of Somerset Place. Since 1986, these "homecomings" have acknowledged and validated the contributions of the men, women, and children who once lived on the plantation, thereby celebrating the contributions of all who labored in the antebellum South.

Durham - Convention & Visitor's Bureau

In addition to information about dining, lodging, shopping and attractions, you can download an African American Heritage Guide

Durham - North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company

Located on the historic "Black Wall Street, this is the nation's oldest and largest African-American Insurance Company. Twelve stories of steel and glass stand on former site of B.N. Duke's home, Four Acres. Tours can be arranged. Visitors are welcome to dine at the Aramark Cafeteria on the concourse level. Display cases on the outdoor Podium Level Pavilion contain photos and history. Learn more at their website by clicking on About NC Mutual, where you can view a historical video narrated by Professor John Hope Franklin.

Durham - Hyati Heritage Center

Hayti was once one of America's most successful African American marketplaces and neighborhoods, and was named in admiration of the independent island nation. The Center - housed in the Historic St. Joseph's AME Church, features works and artifacts, visual arts display galleries, a dance and community meeting space. Exhibitions of traditional and contemporary art by local, regional and national African American artists. This center also houses the Annette Lewis Phinazee African American Archives and Resource Center including the William Tucker Collection devoted to works by African American authors and illustrators of children's books.

Durham - Beechwood Cemetery 3400 Fayetteville St. (919)560-4154

Contains graves of many of Durham's African American business and community leaders, including John Merrick, founder of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, and C.C. Spaulding, General Manager & President of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, and Dr. James E. Shepard, founder and President of National Religious Training School which became NCCU. Located next to White Rock Baptist Church. Opened in the thirties after Geer Cemetery closed. Several graves were moved from the old cemetery to Beechwood at that time.

Durham - Geer Cemetery, Between Camden, Colonial & McGill St (919)560-4154

Founded in 1876 as the first cemetery for African-Americans in Durham. Margaret Faucette, founder of White Rock Baptist Church, and Edian Markham, founder of St. Joseph's AME church and organizer of Hayti neighborhood, lie there. Land entrusted to sharecroppers by Jesse Geer of Geer Plantation after the death of an 11 year-old farm hand.

Durham - North Carolina Central University Art Museum

Collections and temporary exhibitions of 19th-and 20th-century African-American art. Located on the campus of the nation's first publicly-supported liberal arts college for African-Americans. Local artists and students showcase their talents. You can view current and past exhibition information, and also order exhibition catalogs, online.

Durham - Selena Warren Wheeler Collection / Stanford L. Warren Branch

The Selena Warren Wheeler Collection of African-American culture, history, and literature is named after the daughter of library founder Stanford L. Warren and is located in the basement. The Stanford L. Warren Library is the second African-American library established in North Carolina. Started in 1913 in the basement of old White Rock Baptist Church, the library moved Downtown in 1916 and once was called the Durham Colored Library.

Durham - Historic Stagville

The plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families were among the largest in pre-Civil War North Carolina, and among the largest of the entire South. By 1860, the family owned almost 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves. Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres, lay at the center of this enormous estate. Now a State Historic Site, it features 18th- and 19th-century buildings dedicated to preservation and African-American cultural historic studies, provigin insights into plantation life, society and culture. The website provides historical and visitor information.

Edenton - Historic Edenton

Visitor Center, located at 108 North Broad Street provides 14 - minute audiovisual program, exhibits, gift shop, visitor information/orientation. Guided tours of five properties: 1736 St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1758 Cupola House (National Historic Landmark), circa 1782 Barker House, 1767 Chowan County Courthouse (National Historic Landmark) and early 19th-century Iredell House State Historic Site. Walking and trolley tours available, with special events highlighting African American history. Eg. a tour in 2006 for Women's History Month featured Harriet Jacobs, who wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Edenton - Providence Burial Ground West Albemarle Street Edenton, NC 27932 (252)482-2637

Burial ground of prominent African-American, free blacks and military people from late 18th century and 19th century. Notables buried there include: Thomas Barnswell, free black and noted builder; Molly Horniblow, grandmother of Harriet Jacobs; Jonathon Overton, Private of Continental Line of Captain Jones Company, 10th regiment. Twenty-six contemporary markers note many local names, numerous round brick vaults.

Elizabeth City - Museum of the Albemarle

Home to permanent and temporary galleries featuring the story of the people who dwelled in the Albemarle region from the Native Americans and African Americans to the first English-speaking colonists, adventurers, fishermen and farmers. Serves as a regional museum branch of the N.C. Museum of History.

Greensboro - African American Atelier

The African American Atelier exhibits original artwork by local, regional and national African-American and ethnic artists and is dedicated to providing educational programs to the community's youth, elderly and disadvantaged. The Atelier's activities and events appeal to a wide range of ages and ethnic groups. The gift shop offers an array of African-American prints.

Greensboro - University Galleries, North Carolina A&T State University

The University Galleries of this historically black college is comprised of the Mattye Reed African Heritage Collection, dedicated to the ancestral and contemporary arts of Africa and the Caribbean; and the H. Clinton Taylor Collection, which centers on the work of both emerging and established African American artists. Both collections and three magnificent gallery spaces are located in the historic Dudley Building, originally built in 1931. At the website you'll find information on current and past exhibitions, special events and visitor information.

Greenville - Ledonia Wright Culturual Center

The Ledonia Wright Cultural Center at East Carolina University opened its doors in Fall 1995. Named for the popular and respected professor who founded and advised the first African American (African-American) student organization at East Carolina, the Center serves as a facility for research and educational programming and as a repository for the University's collection of African and African American art. Works of art by East Carolina students are featured throughout the center. In October 1995 the center became home to an exhibition of more than 150 pieces of art from the Kuba people of Zaire. The collection was a gift to the East Carolina School of Art by James Lankton, physician and art collector, of Winston-Salem, NC.

Halifax - Allen Grove Rosenwald School 13763 Hwy 903, Halifax, NC 27839 Open by appointment 252-583-1821.

The Halifax County Agriculture Museum and the Allen Grove Rosenwald School are located on the grounds of the 4-H Rural Life Center in Halifax. The museum showcases the agrarian past of Halifax County with displays of farm equipment, tools, letters, photographs and other items. A farm tenant house provides a view of farm life in the early 20th century. The Allen Grove Rosenwald School was built in 1922 and used through the late 1950s. The school building maintains it's original shape and has the original desks. The museum, farmhouse, and Rosenwald School are open by appointment.

Henderson - Henderson Institute Historical Museum, Corner of Beckford Dr. & W. Rockspring, Henderson, NC 27536 Open by appointment (252)430-0616

From its establishment in 1887 by the Freedmen's Mission Board of the United Presbyterian Church through the beginnings of school integration in 1970, the Henderson Institute was the only secondary school open to African Americans in Vance County. This building is all that remains of an educational complex that once anchored the surrounding African American neighborhood. The museum has preserved recordings of the schools and offers permanent exhibits. Only minutes from the Historic District of Henderson's downtown area.

High Point - Rosetta C. Baldwin African American Museum - 1408 R.C. Baldwin Ave. High Point, NC 27260 336-289-5755

Rosetta C. Baldwin taught four generations of children from her home and worked with the city to get a church in her community. This historical museum was created in November 2000 to honor the legacy of Miss Rosetta C. Baldwin, her family and many African-Americans and their contributions to the development of the High Point community. You can learn more about her and the museum, along with other pioneering African Americans, at the web site.

High Point - Angela Peterson Doll & Miniature Museum

One of the South's largest doll museums, featuring more than 2700 dolls, miniature displays, dollhouses, costumes and unusual artifacts which includes the lifelong collection of one woman. Also a special exhibit of 17 African American Personality dolls and other rotating doll and miniature exhibits. Groups and individuals welcome. Located behind the Visitors Information Center.

Jarvisburg/Currituck County- Historic Jarvisburg Colored School

The Historic Jarvisburg Colored School was officially recognized in 1867, making it the oldest African American school in North Carolina. A group of former Jarvisburg Colored School students formed a foundation in an effort to save the building in 2002. The outside of the building has been recently restored with the ultimate goal of a full interior restoration with hopes of one day turning the building into a museum that will depict the history of education of all African American students in Currituck County from the late 1830s until 1950.

Kenly - Boyette Slave and Schoolhouse, Tobacco Farm Life Museum

An 1830s structure originally built as a dwelling for slaves. Constructed as a one-room pine house with dovetail notches and pegs. Privately owned but interpretive information for this African American site is provided by the Tobacco Farm Life Museum.

New Bern - African American Heritage Walking Tour

In the 1700s, New Bern became known as a popular town for both slaves and free blacks in Colonial America. By1860, free blacks composed nearly 13% of New Bern's population ­ by far the greatest number of free blacks of any town in North Carolina.Over the course of many years, a large black population created institutions and had a political, economic, and cultural influence in the area. This self-guided walking tour exhibits New Bern's strong African American Heritage, rich in culture as well as historical fact. Brochures and maps are available at the Visitors Center or online. Download PDF of New Bern walking tour.

Raleigh - African American Cultural Complex

A unique collection of artifacts, documents and displays of outstanding contributions made by African Americans and are housed in several buildings along a picturesque nature trail.

Raleigh - St. Augustine's College Chapel

Saint Augustine's University was founded in 1867 and established by the Protestant Episcopal Church to serve free African enslaved people. The chapel, built in 1895, is home to the bishop's chair, a memorial to the Right Reverend Henry Beard Delany. He was the first suffragan elected in the Diocese of North Carolina and the second African American bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first person to graduate from St. Augustine's, who later became a bishop.

Salisbury - W.J. Walls Heritage Hall on the campus of Livingston College

Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary were originally founded as Zion Wesley Institute by a group of A.M.E. Zion ministers for the purpose of training ministers in the Cabarrus County town of Concord, North Carolina in 1879. Heritage Hall is a repository of African, African-American, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church history, artifacts, literature, books and records.

Salisbury/Rowan County - - Rowan County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Their self-guided tour African American Heritage Trail chronicles the historic moments, great leaders and lives of generations of African-Americans who lived, worked and contributed to the industrial, artistic, cultural and spiritual life of the Salisbury community. This web site provides lodging, dining, shopping and attractions information.

Sedalia - Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

"Founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Palmer Memorial Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Today, the campus provides the setting where visitors can explore this unique environment where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century. The museum links Dr. Brown and Palmer Memorial Institute to the larger themes of African American history, women's history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made in North Carolina."

Wilmington - American Heritage Tours

Hear the stories, experiences, and amazing contributions of African Americans via a sightseeing tour of Historic Wilmington.

Wilmington - Bellamy Mansion Slave Quarters

The Bellamy Mansion (1859-1861) is one of North Carolina's most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture built on the eve of the Civil War by free and enslaved black artisans for John and Eliza Bellamy and their nine children. The compound was also home to nine enslaved African Americans who served the Bellamy family. After the fall of Fort Fisher in 1865, Federal troops commandeered the house as their headquarters during the occupation of Wilmington. Now the house is a museum that focuses on history and the design arts and offers tours, changing exhibitions and an informative look at historic preservation in action. Follow the restoration of the Slave Quarters online!

Wilmington - Upperman African American Cultural Center

The Upperman African American Cultural Center (UAACC) provides students, faculty, staff, and those in the greater Wilmington community with the opportunity to experience the rich heritage of African Americans from artistic, historical, and other perspectives. Located in the University Union, the center also houses exhibits of artwork and artifacts for public viewing. Upperman Center programs and activities such as Heritage School, Upperman Artist presentations, lectures, workshops, and Black History programs are offered to the university and the region. These events are provided to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of African Americans and their

Wilson - Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum, 1202 E. Nash St. Wilson, NC 27893 (252)296-3056

The Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House is a museum featuring the artifacts that depict the culture and contributions of African Americans to the history and development of Wilson. The house was built in 1946 by Freeman who was a noted local black stone mason. He built this and other houses to help alleviate the housing shortage for GI's returning from the war. Freeman built a round house that is said to be made of stone. The house is actually built of whatever Freeman could get his hands on including: bottles, tree saplings and string.

Windsor - Historic Hope Plantation

Hope Plantation is located in southern Bertie County on the edge of Roquist Pocosin, four miles west of Windsor, adjacent to NC Highway 308. Today, Historic Hope Foundation owns and manages 45 acres of the original 1,051-acre site. An African American Celebration is held each year, and according to their online e-newsletter, the Foundation has received a grant of "$55,249 from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to interpret the history of Hope Plantation beyond the mansion -- including the lives of its enslaved African Americans and the Tuscarora Indians who inhabited neighboring lands until the early 19th century. The Institute is helping to fund research, development, and installation of permanent exhibits and production of educational brochures.

"This grant gives us the chance to improve how we tell a critical part of the story at Hope," says Glenn Perkins, Curator. "The majority of the people who lived and worked here were enslaved African Americans, and we need to make sure that a visitor to Hope gets a clear understanding of what their lives were like."

Winston-Salem - African American Heritage Itinerary

This sample itinerary from the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau is a good starting point. Note: Like most web sites, this one is constantly changing URLs. So if this link doesn't take you to the itinerary, go to the menu and look under GROUP TOURS> Itineraries.

Winston-Salem - Old Salem

Old Salem is a restoration of the Moravian community called Salem that was started in 1766. Renowned for its high level of authenticity, the non-profit organization named Old Salem began its work in earnest in 1950. Tours of African American history and sites: include The African Moravian Church (Log Church); St. Philips Moravian Church (Brick Church - oldest standing African American church in the state); First African Graveyard; Augustus T. Zevely House, Salem Tavern and more. In addition to visitor information like lodging, dining, events, etc, the content-rich web site contains much historical information, and an entire section devoted to African Americans in Old Salem.

 

Additional Resources

Black Heritage Sites: The South. Nancy C. Curtis. New Press 1998 Order at Amazon.com

This volume includes descriptions and detailed visitor information for hundreds of places of national and local significance, from churches and schools to battlefields and cemeteries, from stops on the Underground Railroad to landmarks of the 1950s civil rights movement. Black Heritage Sites is perfect for travelers and historians of all kinds--from the family planning a cross-country trip to the armchair traveler interested in gaining a unique perspective on African American history.

African American Historic Places. Savage, Beth L. Wiley, 2005 Order at Amazon.com

Features 800 sites on the National Historic Register which relate to African American History. Organized by 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Because it is designed as an identification tool rather than as a trip planner, the book lists only addresses and does not note telephone numbers, access policies, or admission charges. The introduction, however, notes that approximately three-fourths of the properties are privately owned and not open to the public. Black-and-white photographs are provided for some of the sites, and eight introductory essays provide context for understanding the historical significance of the sites.

A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement. Jim Carrier. Harcourt Books, 2004. Order at Amazon.com

This book is fascinating even if you never leave home. It's both a travel guide and a reference for anyone wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not limited to modern times; like many historians, the author takes the view that the struggle for civil rights began the moment the first enslaved African set foot on these shores and tried to break free. And it continued anywhere that people fought for dignity and equality. Consequently, the sites described here include sites of slave rebellions, legal battles, Underground Railroad safe houses, historically black colleges, churches, museums...even the minor league stadium in Florida where Jackie Robinson broke through the color line.

Historic Landmarks of Black America. Canter, George. Gale Group, 1991. Order at Amazon.com

Describes over 300 sites across the US and Canada, with entries ranging from a paragraph to several pages, with lots of illustrations. Each includes a historical sketch detailing the site's significance and practical information such as directions, hours, fees, and related sites....which of course you'd want to doublecheck before traveling! This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available cheap through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

In Their Footsteps: The American Visions Guide to African-American Historical Sites. Chase, Henry. Owlet, 1994. Order at Amazon.com

Similar to Canter's Historic Landmarks, but more comprehensive covering 46 states, Ontario and Nova Scotia. This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

Hippocrene U.S.A. Guide to Historic Black South: Historical Sites, Cultural Centers, and Musical Happenings of the African-American South . James Haskins & Joann Biondi. Hippocrene Books 1993. Order at Amazon.com

Covers a region of nine Southern states and the District of Columbia, pointing out churches, gravesites, historic locations, nightclubs, museums, art galleries, schools, markets, and jazz and blues landmarks. We venture to Jackie Robinson Baseball Park in Daytona Beach, Florida, for example, where Robinson played his first major league game, and to the Alex Haley Home and Museum in Henning, Tennessee. Each chapter includes a brief section on the history of that state and then lists sites in the various cities.

 

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