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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Historic Alexandria
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Page updated Jul 12, 2013 4:58 PM

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African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia:
Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century

Char McCargo Bah, Christa Watters, Audrey P. Davis, Gwendolyn Brown-Henderson and James E. Henson Sr. author new book on Alexandria’s African American Heritage

Sitting just south of the nation’s capital, Alexandria, Virginia has a long and storied history. Still, little is known of Alexandria’s twentieth-century African American community. Experience the harrowing narratives of trials and triumph as Alexandria’s African Americans helped to shape not only their hometown but also the world around them. Rutherford Adkins became one of the first black fighter pilots as a Tuskegee Airman. Samuel Tucker, a twenty-six-year-old lawyer, organized and fought for Alexandria to share its wealth of knowledge with the African American community by opening its libraries to all colors and creeds. Discover a vibrant past that, through this record, will be remembered.

Char McCargo Bah is a professional genealogist for the Alexandria Legacies—Freedmen’s Cemetery Descendants Project of the City of Alexandria, an author and a public speaker. Audrey P. Davis is the acting director of the Alexandria Black History Museum where she has been employed since 1993. Gwendolyn Brown-Henderson is a native Alexandrian and retired United States government worker. James E. Henson Sr. is a retired attorney who grew up in Alexandria. Christa Watters is a freelance writer and editor who has lived in Alexandria for thirty years. This group came together to document the history of African Americans who were agents of change and served as Beacons of Light in Alexandria in the twentieth century.

Proceeds from this new publication will support the museum educational programs of the Alexandria Black History Museum, owned by the City of Alexandria, as part of the museum system operated by its Office of Historic Alexandria.  The Office of Historic Alexandria was recently accredited as one of seven municipal museums in the United States by the American Alliance of Museums.


Office of Historic Alexandria 

Administration Offices

Lloyd House
220 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.838.6451

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.