See Alexandria National Cemetery - Parks in Alexandria, VA

Sign up for Kate's newsletter and receive a free travel photos e‑book.Subscribe

USA

Historic Park Memorializes African Americans

By  | 

This is re-posting of Alexandria African American Heritage Park, for Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. This is my honor to write about Black history. For sure, without Black America’s contributions, contraband, refugees and Free slaves, we wouldn’t be the great country we are. Perhaps, today, we wouldn’t be the USA without them!

Therefore when you are on your journey, find the hidden gems in Alexandria and beyond. I went to find The National Cemetery of Alexandria Virginia. But, next to the cemetery, I found The Alexandria African American, Heritage Park.

Consider my surprise to find this jewel. What excites me about my discovery is I found something very special that celebrates black history. The African American Park and the African American Community Memorial Arch is unique. The Park is unique because it marks the historic black villages built around Alexandria’s railroad station. Areas around the railway station were the neighborhoods of colonial African-Americans.The were slaves who settled here after slavery. This section of Alexandria was the poorest area.

The Park is unique because it marks the historic black villages built around Alexandria’s railroad station. Areas around the railway station were the neighborhoods of colonial African-Americans.The were slaves who settled here after slavery. This section of Alexandria was the poorest area.

The memorial arch reminds me to celebrate the African American Communities of Alexandria who built Alexandria.

African American Heritage Park

On this steamy hot day in Alexandria, I was virtually alone in the park. The only except was a woman walking her dog. I stepped onto an old bridge. The day is warmer than usual. The dark lanes are peacefully inviting. So, I took a break to rest on the bench. After relaxing for a while and I listened to the sounds in the park and a swampy area. The African American Park is awesome. The park is built for meditation, remembering, reading and thinking. It is so quiet. Peaceful, in the middle of a city, it is precious.

The National Cemetery of Alexandria

From the park, I saw the National Cemetry of Alexandria. The National Cemetery of Alexandria and the African American Park are six blocks West of U.S Hwy 1 at the end of Wilkes Street in the City of Alexandria, VA. Look for the signs that point to the park. There is a sign at the intersection of Washington Street, and part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and Gibbon Streets. A note of some interest is the Director of Quantico National Cemetery manages the small civil war cemetery.

Something noteworthy is the Director of Quantico National Cemetery manages the small civil war cemetery.

African American Heritage Park

My Walk – Alexandria African American Heritage Park

I found this gem. On one of my last days, I was on my way to Whole Foods. I discovered The African American Park. My accidental discovery was due to an arch sparkling in the sun. The bronze arch caught my eye. I thought it was huge. The only way I spotted it was because the sun was at noon and made it glisten.

Bronze Arch

Surprisingly, the bronze arch is not generally noticeable. Additionally. it’s not reachable from the street. So, I walked down through the path to find the glistening bronze object. At first, I couldn’t tell how far away it was from the road. After all. I am into changing my plans. Therefore I ventured down the trail. My first impression was ‘wow how can any place be so green?  Everything, – I mean everything was bright green. The bridge, grass, and water all were bright Seahawk green.

Everything, I mean everything was bright green. The bridge, grass, and water all were bright Seahawk green.

African American Heritage Park

African American Heritage Park

Marsh or Swamp

Next, I spied a marsh or swamp. I don’t know what to call it because depending on where you are from it might be called either a marsh or a swamp. Surprisingly, I heard crickets or some bug. Next, I stopped at a wetland to try to find the source of the noise.

African American Heritage Park

After a while, my walk continued along the path hunting for the bronze arch.

African American Heritage Park

When I reached the arch, I realized it was very small. I found that the marker is historically significant. However, this is a pretty small monument considering what it is memorializing. The statue memorializes the six African American communities of Alexandria. What an incredible discovery.

African American Heritage Park

Making a Discovery

Making an unexpected discovery like this is one of my favorite parts of traveling.

This finding is unique because I knew nothing about African-American slaves. I never knew they were called refugees. And just think, these refugees got free health care for seven years, as did the poor white and military. We didn’t even have a Veteran’s Administration at this time. But we did offer US health care. Shortly after the Civil War, universal health insurance started. But no sooner than health care began, it was over. Finally, and unfortunately, it lasted only seven years.

Pay Respect

When and if you are in Alexandria, please consider paying your respects to this community. African-American slaves the Civil war refugees, built Alexandria. The African-American that they made strong is the first community, that was all theirs. It’s a very simple park, easy to find, and a quiet place to remember those who came before us.

More to See

The African American Park to me feels like a lovely spot for a picnic in  Alexandria. The park is a place to read. The park is perfect for dog walking, solo woman travelers and traveler’s 50 plus at any stage of their life who want to find a peaceful place.

The neighborhood is close to the Masonic Temple site. If you have the time, consider heading to Masonic Temple. Read – more about Alexandria at Mercy Street Alexandria Virginia – Best Free Walking Tour

African American Heritage Park

Consider taking this tour too. Mercy Street Alexandria Virginia – Best Free Walking Tour

Grab some time when you come here. I believe these people earned our respect. You might even feel some of the souls from the past. Here is something interesting to note, about slaves. Free Slaves and Slaves that escaped slavery were called Contraband. Difficult to believe people can be call Contraband. Guns and weapons are contraband. People aren’t contraband. Now we have refugees. I hope we look back. Maybe we will see how refugees helped us grow. In conclusion, it feels strange how much history repeats itself

Wrap Up

In conclusion, it feels weird how much history repeats itself. It seems that refugees are people displaced by war and civil unrest. We don’t have the right term to call people who are asking for help. I think the problem is we dont have a word that reflects the need of these people and what they have been through, maybe somedays we will learn from our past.

Please show your respect to the community that built Alexandria. Perhaps, you will get more out of it than you can imagine. Simplicity, ultimate and unique makes #simpletravel, #ultimatetravel. I hope you will celebrate with me regardless if you are a citizen, refugee, man or women, person of color or white this is a place for all of us.

Please share your thoughts.

Let me know if these little finds mean a lot to you.

Copyright © 2020 Capetown-Rio, Inc. USA. All rights reserved. Republishing is allowed only with written permission. All photography rights on this page belong to Capetown-Rio, Inc. and the author. Do you have a question, business proposal, or speaking opportunity? Please contact me here.

Kate started traveling for work. Now with grown children, who are travelers, she travels for pleasure looking for great travel experiences. Currently, her home is in Bellevue, WA, and lives with her cat Angelina Jolie. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado, an MBA and Master of Arts, Management. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures, traveling the world, creating a painting and sour or spicy foods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.