African-American Beginnings: On the Virginia WaterfrontThe African-American story that began in Jamestown helped shape the creation of the United States. Discover the first arrival, stories of courage, religion, hopes and dreams as you tour areas of Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Newport News, Hampton and Virginia Beach.
Day One: Your tour begins at Historic Jamestowne, a National Park site, the first permanent English settlement in North America and the site of the first recorded arrival of Africans in Virginia in 1619. Visit the 17th century church, the archeological site and the glasshouse. Then on to Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century that features an introductory film and indoor exhibition galleries featuring a “From Africa to Virginia” multimedia presentation. Outside, history comes alive in re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, a colonial fort and the three ships – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607. Learn how the cultures of the Powhatan Indian, English and western central Africans converged at Jamestown. Enjoy lunch at Jamestown Settlement Café, and then travel the Colonial Parkway, a scenic 23-mile roadway along the James River to Colonial Williamsburg. En route, you will pass one of the first African-American owned working farms in America. Step back into history as you walk across the new “bridge to the past” that transports you from the 21st century back to 1774 at Colonial Williamsburg. Encounter costumed interpreters and tradespeople at the Great Hopes Plantation, where you will capture the essence of rural Colonial Virginia. Here you will discover how most 18th century Virginians lived, what they ate, and what they grew as whites and slaves worked together in agricultural activities that helped sustain Williamsburg residents. Enjoy dinner at a tavern or local favorite restaurant. Following dinner, take an evening walking tour of the historic area to see Bruton Parish and the original site of First Baptist Church, one of the oldest African-American churches in America and the oldest African-American Baptist church in Virginia. The next three nights accommodations are at a lodging property of your choice in the Newport News/Williamsburg area.
Day Two: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, then on to the The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, a museum of the American Revolution where America’s struggle for independence from the beginnings of colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation is chronicled through gallery exhibits, living-history Continental Army encampment, and 1780s farm. Your next stop is at the Yorktown Battlefield and Visitor Center with a walking tour to Historic Yorktown, followed by a lunch stop at Riverwalk Landing on the York River. Then, on to Lee Hall Mansion and Endview Plantation, once a hospital for both Union and Confederate forces, and learn about the roles of African-Americans in rural Virginia before, during and after the Civil War. More personal history awaits you at the Virginia War Museum, where you can trace stories of African-American soldiers in the Marches Toward Freedom Gallery. “Dinnertainment” awaits you at the historicBoxwood Inn in Newport News. Accommodations for the next two nights are at a lodging property of your choice in the Newport News/Williamsburg area.
Day Three: Back to Newport News for a visit to the Newsome House and Cultural Center. The Victorian home was built in 1899 and was home to J. Thomas Newsome, a prominent African-American attorney and civic leader. A graduate of Howard University Law School, Newsome was one of the first African-American attorneys to argue before the Virginia Supreme Court. Today, this elegant Queen Anne residence serves as a cultural center and site to changing art exhibits, as well as a permanent exhibit on his life and times. You will also see theJames A. Fields House and hear stories of its restoration from the owner and guide Greg Cherry. Then on to Hampton to tour the campus of Hampton University and visit the Hampton University Museum, one of the oldest African-American museums in the United States. Visit the Casemate Museum at Historic Fort Monroe. Nicknamed “Freedom’s Fortress,” it was a safe haven for thousands of escaped slaves. After lunch, tour the new Hampton History Museum and the Aberdeen Gardens Historic Museum and Community, a “New-Deal” planned community that was designed and built by African-American architects and workers to provide African-American shipyard employees and their families with clean, modern homes and gardens for sustenance. Your next stop is the Virginia Air and Space Museum to see exhibits including the first black aviators to fly for the U.S. in wartime missions. Then tour the Little England Chapel. Built in 1879, the chapel is the only known African missionary chapel in Virginia. For your evening entertainment, visit the Power Plant shops and restaurants or book seats at the American Theatre. If you want to arrange a tour the last weekend in June, you may have to group plan to attend a Friday or Saturday evening performance of the Hampton Jazz Festival. The festival attracts the nation’s top blues, soul, pop and jazz performers. Accommodations for the night are at a lodging property of your choice in the Newport News/Williamsburg area.
Day Four: Enjoy breakfast at your leisure before you depart for Norfolk, where you will explore the power of the seas atNauticus, the National Maritime Center and the U.S.S. Wisconsin/Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Enjoy a beautiful lunch buffet, great music as you cruise Norfolk’s historic waterways on the Spirit of Norfolk.Then drive past the Martin Luther King Memorial, Norfolk State University and the Black Soldier Memorial. You will look forward to the NorfolkBotanical Garden for a tram ride through one of the East Coast’s largest collections of azaleas, camellias, roses and rhododendrons. African-American women relocated azaleas to establish the garden as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s W.P.A. project.Then, on to First Landing State Park followed by a stop at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront for a stroll on the boardwalk and a visit to the Old Coast Guard Station, housed in a 1903 former Life-Saving Station, the museum tells the story of the men who served in the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard including the contributions of Michael A. Healy, an African-American arctic sea captain. If you have time, visit the Francis Land House and the Adam Throughgood House. Depart for home or arrange for accommodations at a lodging property of your choice in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.
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