Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles, approximately 45 minutes each way. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; mostly flat terrain at Shockoe Valley, other sites more uneven.
In the hotel’s second floor dining area, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, fruit, organic and gluten-free cereals, a selection of fresh breads and bakery items, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
At the hotel, we will be joined by a local expert who will review the early history of African Americans in Virginia. The first Africans stepped ashore in 1619, taken from a Spanish ship by an English privateer and landed on Old Point Comfort at Hampton Roads. Africans brought to Virginia involuntarily arrived in large numbers beginning in the 1680s on English, Dutch, and American colonist ships. Thousands of Africans endured the Middle Passage yearly to Virginia into the 1750s. During the Revolution, in part for enlightened reasons, the Virginia legislature acted to prohibit further importation of Africans in 1778. We’ll board a motorcoach and begin a field trip to significant Richmond sites at Shockoe Bottom. The Richmond Slave Trail runs here, adjacent to Interstate 95. A series of historic sites has been recognized in the 21st century: the African Burying Ground, perhaps dating back to the 1600s; Lumpkin’s Slave Jail, also called the Devil’s Half-acre, for which development plans are underway; and the Reconciliation Statue on old Wall Street. Participants in planning the commemoration of these sites will brief our Road Scholar group on where things stand. We’ll also stop at Henry Box Brown Plaza. Brown was one of the most famous passengers on the Underground Railroad. He escaped by being packed in a box — 3 feet long by 2 feet 8 inches deep by 2 feet wide — and shipped to Philadelphia as dry goods. We’ll see a replica of his box and those who are nimble will have an opportunity to climb inside.
In the hotel dining area, we will have daily rotating choices such as deli sandwiches, salads, soups, dessert, and beverage choices of coffee, tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.
We’ll board a motorcoach and set out on a field trip to several Northside and East End sites that are important in African American history. From the period when African Americans owned little real property, churches and cemeteries are some of the primary historic survivals. We’ll go to the Second African Burying Ground, another site in the process of recognition. Then we’ll see Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, founded in 1867 by Rev. John Jasper — one of the 19th century’s most celebrated African American preachers — as well as St. Luke Hall, where Maggie Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. We’ll pass through Gilpin Court, the city’s first housing project dating to 1941. Following St. James Street, we will reach Barton Heights Cemetery. We’ll go through Highland Park to Woodland Cemetery, where Arthur Ashe is buried. Next, we’ll pass through Church Hill, the birthplace of Maggie Walker and the neighborhood where Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder grew up. We’ll pass through the area once called Shedtown, with homes built by Freedmen after the Civil War. Because the homes were small and the Housing Authority had little historical consciousness, the area was a focus for the clearance and reconstruction of urban renewal in the 1960s-70s. We’ll then head to Evergreen Cemetery, established in 1891, where we’ll see the graves of Maggie Walker and the courageous anti-lynching editor, John Mitchell, Jr. Evergreen is one of a group of African American cemeteries, which were neglected for a long period but are now being reclaimed. On our way back to the hotel, we’ll stop at Capitol Square to see the Civil Rights Monument, dedicated in 2008 and featuring Barbara Johns, who led her fellow students to walk out of their Farmville high school in 1950. From Capitol Square, we’ll return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
Returning to the hotel, we’ll gather with a local expert who will discuss the history and architecture of Virginia’s capitol building.