Self-guided map and app unites stories of African American heroes, historic places and events
The "Road to Freedom" program, created through a partnership between the American Battlefield Trust and Civil War Trails, Inc., offers free physical and digital manifestations — a map guide available in visitor centers and distribution sites across the state and a web app with downloadable versions for Android and iOS devices.
The trail highlights 88 spots across Virginia, a key Civil War battleground state and an important passageway in the Underground Railroad. Sites stretch from Alexandria, just outside Washington, D.C., to Abingdon, near the Tennessee border, and tell stories of soldiers, slaves, educators, politicians and others, marking the places where they staged rebellions, fought for freedom, educated their children, were born and were buried.
An ongoing research partnership with the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation will result in adding further context to existing entries by allowing Black voices to delve into the artistic, architectural and cultural significance of included sites. The addition of new sites and curated "collections" will further enhance the experience.
"Since 1994, the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation has worked toward the preservation, maintenance, and awareness of endangered or little-known historical sites, especially in the mid-Atlantic," said president and founder E. Renée Ingram. "We are excited to join this dynamic project and look forward to showcasing the history and legacy of important places across Virginia."
The African American Heritage Preservation Foundation has created a free mobile app "African American Sites," that is available through The App Store and Google Play. The African American Sites app features more than 1,700 African American Sites located throughout the United States that include Heritage Trails, Military Sites, Museums, National Historic Landmarks, Endangered Historic Places and other historic places that focus on the rich contributions of African Americans to our nation's history. We were able to cull information from various websites and search engines to consolidate these wonderful African American Historic Sites into one application. In June 2021, a new version of the app was released!
The African American Heritage Preservation Foundation worked with Virginia House Delegate C. Matt Fariss to implement the provisions of a House Bill that would recognize at least 36 historical African American graves at The Stanton Family Cemetery in Buckingham County and that The Stanton Family Cemetery be added to the list of Historical African American cemeteries cared for pursuant to § 10.1-2211.2 of the Code of Virginia. The Stanton Family Cemetery was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has developed a Virginia Historical African American Cemetery and Graves Fund Manual that is an invaluable resource that other states can replicate for its historical African American cemeteries and grave sites. Given the results of the Ground Penetration Radar (GPR) survey, the Foundation will submit an amendment to the Virginia General Assembly for the 2021 Legislative Session.
The African American Heritage Preservation Foundation is continuing its contributions to the African American National Biography (AANB) Database edited by Professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. This landmark undertaking resulted in an eight-volume print edition containing over 4,000 individual biographies, indices, and supplementary matter. An expanded edition of the AANB continues online, with more than 1,500 entries added since 2008. The African American Heritage Preservation Foundation provided biographies on Roscoe Conkling Bruce and Dr. Frank Settle Hargrave. More than 750 of these can be found in a Revised Print Edition of the AANB, published by Oxford University Press in 2013.