PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Dutch CVB

As the site of many Civil War battlegrounds and the home to large portions of the Underground Railroad, the Mid-Atlantic region is saturated with intriguing and awe-inspiring stories of African-Americans from this turbulent period in America’s history. 

But the Mid-Atlantic’s African-American connections certainly don’t start, or stop, with the Civil War. A visit here puts clients in touch with the stories and experiences of notables like Kunte Kinte, Harriet Tubman and Eubie Blake, as well as the undertold stories of lesser-known African-Americans.

Here is a sampling of African-American related sites in the Mid-Atlantic region:

Delaware

Experience African-American history through the eyes of artists at the University of Delaware’s Mechanical Hall through an extraordinary 1,500-piece collection that includes celebrated artists like Romare Bearden. Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.VisitWilmingtonDE.com.

Kent County find Delaware State University, dedicated to educating African-Americans since the 19th century; and the town of Camden, where Harriet Tubman brought many fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. Kent County DE CVB, www.visitdover.com.

Maryland

Trace the rich and authentic journey of African-Americans in Annapolis and explore their national and international contributions on Watermark’s African-American Heritage Tour. Key sites include the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial and Thurgood Marshall Memorial. Visit Annapolis’s newly expanded Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland’s official repository for African-American history. Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, www.visitannapolis.org. 

Over 200 years old, The Emmart-Pierpont Safe House is an 18th-century farmhouse which served as a station on the Underground Railroad. An on-site display details the history of the Emmart family, their role in the UGRR, and the development of the local area. Baltimore County Conference & Visitors Bureau, www.visitbacomd.com. 

Antietam National Battlefield forever tied the Civil War to the issue of slavery, with the release of the Emancipation Proclamation. Other local sites include Underground Railroad stops, Doleman Black History Museum, and John Brown’s headquarters at The Kennedy Farm. Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.marylandmemories.org/african_american.html.

Pennsylvania

The new Adams County Underground Railroad Tours by Debra McCauslin acquaint clients with those who sought freedom and those who fought for freedom. Guided tours are provided in your client’s vehicle and are available for groups. Bus tours through the Gettysburg Tour Center are available each Saturday afternoon. Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.gettysburg.travel. 

Relive the Quest for Freedom story in Lancaster County at the Christiana Underground Railroad Center, which details the Christiana Resistance, one of the first of the Civil War. Visit the “Living the Experience” living history presentation in Lancaster, an interactive Underground Railroad story that will bring tears to your eyes. Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.padutchcountry.com/press_room.

Virginia

Hear stories of African-American courage and determination in Newport News. Trace the history of blacks in the U.S. military. Marvel at the work of nationally known folk artist Anderson Johnson. Tour the historic homes of two post-Civil War civic leaders and take a journey into their life and times. Newport News Tourism Development Office, www.newport-news.org/media. 

Discover African-American history in Prince William County/Manassas through the newly designated Underground Railroad Site at Leesylvania State Park, and artifacts and excavations at Manassas National Battlefield Park, the Jennie Dean Memorial, Liberia Plantation and Ben Lomond House. Prince William County/Manassas, Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.visitpwc.com. 

Born in the mid-19th century on a Virginia tobacco plantation, Booker T. Washington saw education as the true emancipator for himself and others. Accordingly, he rose from slavery to become a leading educator of African-Americans. Visit the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Roanoke to see where his life began. Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.visitroanokeva.com.

Delaware’s Proud Cultural Heritage

DelawareDelaware Economic Development Office

Delaware's first European settlement, Swanendael, was founded by the Dutch, in 1631 along Hoorn Kill (present-day Lewes-Rehoboth Canal). Clients can visit the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, which was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the community, and houses permanent and temporary exhibits that tell the story of the state’s Dutch heritage.

The Delaware Swedish Colonial Society, in Wilmington, promotes Swedish culture and history in the Delaware Valley. The Society sponsors the annual St. Lucia Celebration at Old Swedes Church every December and an annual ceremony and dinner to honour early Swedish and Finnish settlers to Delaware.

People from all of Delaware, and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region visit Wilminton, for La Festa Italiana – the St. Anthony of Padua Italian Festival, in June. The eight-day celebration takes place June 8 to 15 and offers an authentic Italian experience featuring authentic food and entertainment.
The 2008 La Festa Italiana, influenced by Napoli and Campania theme, will feature replicas of Mount Vesuvio and Pompeii, and the bay of Naples, by Giovanni Bucchi, a Chicago artist. Danni Provida, from Café Scalesa, will demonstrate how to make Mozzarella cheese; and the famous Vivacci group will entertain guests with traditional dances.

Automobiles often share the streets around Dover with the Amish horse-drawn buggies. But Amish and Mennonites also operate several quaint country stores, where locals go for the best homemade goods. Places like Byler's Amish Country Store sell many homemade grocery items, including jellies, candies, pies, soaps, and cheese. The Daniel Yoder Furniture Shop has furniture and children's toys handmade by local Amish craftsman. Shady Lane Selections sells beautiful, handmade quilts and supplies. Spence’s Bazaar is an open-air produce and flea market and a great place to find authentic Amish-made products. For folks who want a unique lunch experience, the Bazaar provides picnic tables so that you can enjoy made-to-order sandwiches while still watching the market's goings-on.

Skilled Native American artisans who travel to the Nanticoke Indian Pow-wow in Millsboro in September find a welcome opportunity to visit with friends and relatives, renew acquaintances, and trade or sell Native arts and crafts, including jewelry, pottery, moccasins, ribbon shirts, shawls, dream catchers, and paintings. It is also a time to preserve and share traditions, to sing to the Creator, and to dance to the heartbeat of the drum.

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