ACPS Honors Black Resistance, Community and Opportunity During Black History Month
Celebrated in February, Black History Month is dedicated to honoring the many contributions of African Americans to our community, culture and history. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
As we mark Black History Month, it is a time to honor the many contributions and legacies of African Americans from activists and civil rights pioneers to leaders in culture, industry, science and more. This year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how African Americans resisted oppression. Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) reflects on honoring places of Black resistance in our own community.
Sites to Visit in Our Community
The Alexandria Black History Museum has identified the following notable sites:
- The Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe Street). Currently closed for renovations, the public can take a virtual tour and access more resources online. The adjacent Watson Reading Room is available to visit by appointment.
- The Alexandria African American Heritage Park (500 Holland Lane). Open dawn to dusk, the Alexandria African American Heritage Park includes a one-acre African American cemetery constructed during the 19th century as well as several sculptures.
- The Freedom House Museum (1315 Duke Street). Free for Alexandria residents and open Thursday-Monday, the museum pays respects to the thousands of Black people trafficked out of its building on Duke Street from 1828 to 1861.
- The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial (1001 South Washington Street). Open dawn to dusk, the cemetery is the final resting place of approximately 1,800 people who found freedom by settling in Alexandria. In 2014, a memorial opened to honor their memory.
- The African American Heritage Trail. The African American Heritage Trail spans three miles from Montgomery Street to Jones Point Park and highlights the contributions of Black Alexandrians to the city. The North Trail Route includes 11 stops and the South Trail Route, which opens Feb. 4, 2023, consists of 19 stops.
Additional locations have been compiled by the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. Follow ACPS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we highlight a few of the many locations significant to Black history throughout the month. Join in by using #ACPSBlackHistory on social media.
Highlighted Activities for Our High School Students
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has launched, along with the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project (ACRP), a racial justice essay contest. ACPS high school students are invited to take part by studying a topic related to the history of racial injustice and discussing its legacy. The contest deadline is March 17, 2023, and more details are available online. Last fall, members of the ACPS community took part in a pilgrimage to EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum in Alabama as ACRP delivered soil collected from an Alexandria site to symbolize the lives of two known Alexandria lynching victims, Joseph McCoy and Benjamin Thomas.
With the theme of “Black Resistance, Remembrance and 21st Century Revolution,” Alexandria City High School (ACHS) is presenting its Black History Month Blackbox Theatre Lecture Series throughout February. These are interactive discussions among guest speakers, students and teachers that feature various topics and include the Student Remembrance Project Pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama, documentary.
"Through the Black Student Union, this awesome group of students and advisors provides a space for ACHS students and guest lecturers to have socially conscious conversations that are honest, fact-based and eye-opening,” English and theatre teacher Leslie A. Jones said, “which in turn, transforms anyone and everyone who participates in this life-changing experience.”
As we celebrate Black History Month, ACPS continues to advance its commitment to equity and empowerment for all students which is at the center of our 2025 Strategic Plan. On Feb. 3, 2023, ACPS launches its third annual Equity for All Climate Survey to help the school division ensure its attainment of providing an equitable learning environment in our diverse and ever-changing world.
- Alexandria City High School
- black history