The tradition of Black History month started in 1970 after being proposed by Black educators and students at Kent State University. It was intended as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. A major part of the month is the recognition that Black history is deeply intertwined with American history, especially here in Fairfax and the DC area. There are many ways to honor the month and the history of Black Americans right here in Virginia.
The 1867 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage is commemorated in Old Town Alexandria on the corner of King and N. Pitt Street. Visit the mini kiosk located around the corner from the law firm that represented Mildred and Richard Loving.
While you’re in Old Town Alexandria, head over to Duke Street to walk the Black History Trail, starting with a tribute to two sisters who escaped slavery, were held in Alexandria’s Bruin Slave Jail, and later became abolitionists.
In 1833, freed slave West Ford established the town of Gum Springs. It became a haven for formerly enslaved people and developed into a thriving community. You can visit the town and its Museum and Cultural Center to learn more about one of the oldest African American towns in the country.
The NAACP was found in 1909 with the mission to work for political, educational, social, and economic equality of Black Americans. The first rural branch was in the City of Falls Church, where you can visit a fifteen-foot monument that honors the men and women who worked to create the branch.
Take a Virtual Tour
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is dedicated to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. Although temporarily closed due to COVID-19, there is a multitude of virtual exhibitions and online connections to explore and learn more.
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum offers a unique Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which explores the contributions Black people made to air and space expeditions. The museum is closed but they are offering several online exhibits.
On February 6, from 1:00-2:00 p.m., the Potomac Library will be hosting a virtual Black History Month Trivia event. Top scorers can win prizes!
Make it Year-Round
To stay up to date on Black history year-round, follow @FairfaxNaacp on Twitter or Facebook.