400+ years of Black history in Hampton, VA

Honor Black History Month at Sites & Events in Hampton

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and acknowledge their significant contributions to U.S. history. In Hampton, African Americans have been integral in shaping the city for over 400 years, influencing everything from culture and community development to education and research. This month, take the opportunity to explore Black History by visiting key landmarks and immersing yourself in the rich history and culture through various Black History Month events in Hampton.

2024 Black History Month Events in Hampton, VA

Black Hito

Can’t make your trip in February? Consider planning your next vacation to Hampton around the Mosaic Festival in April, Contraband Commemoration in May, Juneteenth, African American Heritage Festival in June, or the Commemoration of the First African Landing Day event in August.

Black History Sites & Landmarks to Visit in Hampton, Virginia

Most of these black heritage sites & museums are open year-round, however you should research or call ahead to ensure available hours.

Aberdeen Gardens Museum and Historic Markers

Visit one of the only remaining Black resettlement communities from the New Deal in the 1930’s. Informational signs are located behind the building. Call ahead to tour the inside of this museum.

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.

Recommended: Cell phone tour for Aberdeen Gardens

Emancipation Oak

black mother and son read history sign at 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 spans over 100 feet in diameter, and continues to be a source of inspiration and freedom for all.

First Africans in Virginia Marker

This marker denotes the arrival of the first documented enslaved Africans in Virginia at Point Comfort (modern day Fort Monroe) in Aug. 1619.

This historic marker is also listed in the Fort Monroe walking tour map and the self-guided cell phone tour.

Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center

The history surrounding Old Point Comfort helped to change the course of the history of this nation. View the indoor exhibits that tell the story of the first landing of Africans in English North America and the “Contraband Decision” at Fort Monroe, also known as “Freedom Fortress.”

Here you can also request a copy of the Fort Monroe walking tour map or purchase tickets for the Casemate Museum.

Hampton History Museum

Learn about the contributions of African Americans in Hampton. Galleries include the first African arrival in 1619 and the Hidden Figures exhibit showcasing the city’s involvement with the U.S. space program.

The museum features at least one new or changing exhibit a year in addition to the main galleries: Kecoughtan display & gallery, 17th Century display, Port Hampton, Hampton Town display, Hampton Archaeologists & archaeological display, Antebellum gallery, the Burning of Hampton, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Crabtown Gallery, Cheyne’s Fine Art of Portraiture, NASA Display, and Modern History.

Hampton University Museum

two young black men study African art exhibit at Hampton University Museum

Founded in 1868 on the campus of Hampton University, the Hampton University Museum is the oldest African-American museum in the United States.

Pick up a walking tour brochure at Hampton University Museum, the oldest African-American museum in the nation, to tour the historic Hampton University campus, home to several national historic landmarks. The museum  has one of the most exceptional collections of African, Native-American and African-American art in the United States and is the oldest African-American museum in the country. The museum is also renowned for its world-class collection of contemporary art by African-American artists.

Little England Chapel

Built in 1879, this is Virginia’s only known African American missionary chapel. Exhibits interpret the religious lives of post-Civil War African Americans in Virginia and include handwritten Sunday school lessons, photographs, a 12-minute video, and 19th-century religious books.

Call ahead to tour this State and National Historic Landmark.

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. He was the son of Anthony and Isabella who were among the first “twenty and odd” Africans to arrive at Point Comfort aboard the White Lion in 1619.  

More Resources for Black History travelers to Hampton:

The Hampton Black History Sites Pass (mentioned above) is like a passport where you ‘check-in’ to different locations. While there’s usually a contest or giveaway for Black History Month in February, the pass is still accessible all year long.

In between visiting historic sites or Hampton attractions, plan to dine or shop at a black-owned business:

Shop Savor Support Black-Owned Businesses in Hampton, VA

Additionally, bring your headphones and take one of our free, self-guided cell phone tours. For those interested in black history, we recommend these cell phone tours:

  • 400 Years Forward: Join us on the 400 Years Forward Tour, as we explore Hampton, Virginia’s Black history and culture from 1619 to today. Visit 11 locations in Hampton while listening to stories from the descendants and keepers of this history.
  • Aberdeen Gardens: In this tour you will learn a lot about this small neighborhood that has made such a big impact. Get ready for a history lesson on this historic neighborhood and get a first hand glance at how the homes were set up during the 1950s.
  • Fort Monroe: The largest stone fortification ever built in the United States and known as “Freedom Fortress” to the thousands of enslaved Africans who escaped and found refuge at this Union-held fort during the Civil War.

And don’t forget to grab a free copy of Family Tree: A guide to African American heritage sites in Hampton, VA. Request a copy by mail, pick up in-person at our visitor center, or flip-through online now:

Family Tree Brochure: A guide to African American heritage sites in Hampton.