Celebrate Black History Month with Hampton’s 400 Years Forward Driving Tour

Celebrate Black History Month by taking a driving tour that highlights Hampton, Virginia’s more than 400 years of rich African American history. The 400 Years Forward Driving Tour explores heritage sites including Fort Monroe National Monument, Emancipation Oak, Aberdeen Gardens, Little England Chapel, Tucker Family Cemetery, and the Hampton History Museum. Begin your driving tour by calling ahead to reserve a visit at Hampton History Museum. Learn about Hampton history and contributions of African Americans in Hampton. After taking a trip through 400 years of history, travel to Fort Monroe, the largest stone fort in the United States. At Fort Monroe begin your tour at the First Africans in Virginia Historical Marker. It was at this spot in 1619 that the first Africans in English North America landed at Old Point Comfort. Next on your driving tour is the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University. A living symbol of freedom for African Americans, the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation was under this Oak in 1863. Designated as one of the “10 Great Trees of the World” by the National Geographic Society, this oak is 98 feet in diameter, and continues to be a source of inspiration and freedom for all. After taking in the beauty and significance of Emancipation Oak drive to Little England Chapel. Built in 1879, this is Virginia’s only known African American missionary chapel. Your next stop will take you to the Tucker Family Cemetery. One of the oldest black cemeteries in Hampton, it is the resting place for generations of the William Tucker Family. William Tucker, the first recorded baby of African descent born to be baptized in English North America. Finally, conclude your driving tour with a visit to Aberdeen Gardens. This historic neighborhood was built for “Blacks by Blacks” in 1935 as part of the New Deal Settlement. Out of the 55 New Deal communities proposed and constructed at the time, Aberdeen Gardens was the only Resettlement Administration community for Blacks in Virginia. Listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register, this iconic neighborhood is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is currently closed for renovations, however, there are historical markers in the backyard to learn more about the neighborhood’s heritage and original residents. Hampton is the site of America’s first continuous English-speaking settlement, the site of the first arrival of Africans in English North America, and is home to such visitor attractions as the Virginia Air & Space Center, Fort Monroe National Monument, Hampton History Museum, harbor tours and cruises, Hampton University Museum, The American Theatre, among others.

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