From the slaves who built Arlington House one brick at a time to the government, civic and business leaders who are building the framework for our future, the history of African Americans in Arlington is significant. With next week’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance and the upcoming Black History Month, take a moment to learn about some of the unique African-American history here in Arlington.
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, at Arlington National Cemetery is seen as both the birthplace of African American history in Arlington and a reminder of the role of African Americans in Arlington’s growth and development. Built by slaves before the Civil War for George Washington Parke Custis, whose wife was known to teach slaves to read, the house was then home to General Robert E. Lee and was seized during the War. Nearby land became the site of Freedman’s Village, a temporary wartime refuge for emancipated and fugitive slaves. The site became well known, and Bud Freedman's Village survived long after the Civil War, thriving for 37 years and sowing the seeds for Arlington's African American community. Not far away, several churches that found their roots at Freedman’s Village still stand, including Lomax AME Zion Church, Mount Zion Baptist Church and Mount Olive Baptist Church, among others.
For another unique story of African-American heritage in Arlington, don’t miss the Charles R. Drew Home in the Penrose neighborhood. Dr. Drew, a promising young African-American physician, conducted groundbreaking research that led to the creation of the modern blood bank. The Harry Gray House in Pentagon City, designed and built in 1881 by a man born into slavery, is known as the first example of a red brick home built in Arlington.
Download our African American History brochure.
Posted by Cara O'Donnell on January 17, 2013 | Permalink