City of Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Black History Museum
The mission of the Black History Museum is to enrich the lives of Alexandria's residents and visitors, to foster tolerance and understanding among all cultures and to stimulate appreciation of the diversity of the African American experience. The institutional complex is composed of the Museum, the Watson Reading Room, and the Alexandria African American Heritage Park.
- Alexandria Black History Museum: The Museum, devoted to exhibiting local and regional history, incorporates the Robert H. Robinson Library as one of two exhibition galleries. The Robert H. Robinson Library was originally constructed in 1940 following a sit-in at the segregated Alexandria Library.
- Watson Reading Room: The Reading Room, established in 1995, provides an environment for learning about the diversity of African American cultural traditions.
- African American Heritage Park: A nine-acre green space and wetland, the Park offers a place for celebration, commemoration and quiet reflection.
The following events are related to the Museum's new exhibition, Living Legends of Alexandria: African American Activists.
Family Legends: Bookmaking Workshops for Kids. Make a Mother’s Day Gift: Saturday, May 11, 11:00 am- 1:00 pm. In this fun and informative art class designed for families with children 6-12 years, adults and children work together to choose a “legend” in their fa mily, write their story, and make it into a handmade storybook to take home as a Mother’s Day gift for Mom! Instructor Sushmita Mazumdar is a local book artist, writer, and educator.
Family Legends: Bookmaking Workshops for Kids. Make a Father’s Day Gift: Saturday, June 15, 11:00 am- 1:00 pm. In this fun and informative art class designed for families with children 6-12 years, adults and children work together to choose a “legend” in their family, write their story, and make it into a handmade storybook to take home as a Father’s Day gift for Dad! Instructor Sushmita Mazumdar is a local book artist, writer, and educator.
Chai & Stories: A Writing Workshop for Adults. Saturday, July 20, 2013, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm. Join instructor Sushmita Mazumdar for chai tea, relaxing storytelling and a chance to express your creativity with a handmade book. There is no charge for this event, but patrons are encouraged to make a tax deductible donation to Living Legends. The instructor is a local book artist, writer, and educator.
Community Open House. Saturday, July 20, 2-4 pm. Join the Living Legends past and present, organization founder Nina Tisara, and Living Legends Board Members for light refreshments, a chance to see the exhibition and learn about how to nominate a legend.
- Living Legends of Alexandria: African American Activists. Living Legends of Alexandria is an ongoing, not-for-profit photo-documentary project that was created in 2006 by artist-photographer Nina Tisara to identify, honor and chronicle people making current history in Alexandria. Over the years, 13 African Americans have been chronicled as part of the project. The African American Legends included in this exhibition are: Ferdinand Day, 2007-08; Lillie Finklea, Carlton Funn Sr., Eula Miller, Melvin Miller and Bert Ransom, 2008-09; Nelson Greene Sr., 2010; Lynnwood Campbell, 2011; Lillian Patterson, Gwen Menefee-Smith and Dorothy Turner, 2012; and Willie Bailey Sr. and Rosa Byrd, 2013. The exhibition runs through August 3, 2013.
- Securing the Blessings of Liberty. The Museum's permanent exhibition seeks to document how the area African Americans survived slavery, helped to destroy it and eventually helped shape the community that we know today. Much of the built environment and the agriculture of Virginia was created and maintained by enslaved blacks. A brutal institution with old and deep roots in Virginia, slavery still haunts the American consciousness and affects our attitudes toward race, class and equality in the United States.
Current News and Information
- Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial. The memorial park, scheduled to open in 2013, will honor the memory of the Freedmen, the hardships they faced, and their contributions to the City. Freedmen's Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape from bondage during the Civil War. Archaeologists were once again on site in November 2012, locating and ensuring the preservation of additional graves during work on the Washington Street sidewalk.
American Alliance of Museums