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Exploring Black History

Citizens and leaders of the black community gathered on Martin Luther King Day to unveil the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington’s new brochure, “African American History in Arlington, Virginia.”

The brochure and accompanying map highlight 17 Arlington sites that central to black history, including the slave quarters and Freedman’s Village at Arlington House, the Banneker Boundary Stone, the Charles Drew Family Home and a group of churches in the county’s historically black neighborhoods.

At Monday’s ceremony, Talmadge Williams, president of the Arlington NAACP joked that no one has an excuse for missing those historical sites. “You ought to be going to church anyway,” he said.

Williams, who also serves as the chairman of the Black Heritage Museum, said assembling and distributing the brochure has been a monumental effort by county officials and community leaders.

Roger Murphy, Director of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, who is responsible for distributing the brochure across the country, said promoting black history will bring tourism dollars to the local economy while contributing to the character of those who learn black history.

Telling the story of black Arlingtonians is important in itself, said Peter Scott. “It’s showing the history of black people and what they did in helping Arlington and Northern Virginia,” he said.

Scott, whose Adelphi, Md.-based company Scott Designers, Inc. designed the Freedman’s Village model at Arlington Cemetery, said working with the Black Heritage Museum over the past two months has been a rewarding experience.

“This is part of the history that wasn’t told when we were in school,” he said.

(Over the course of February, in observance of Black History Month, the Arlington Connection will profile some of the historical sites featured in the Black Heritage Museum’s new brochure.)