After more than a year of planning and practice, the Friends' Black History Committe (BHC) launched it's Heritage Bus Tour, on the bright Saturday morning of November 14, 2015. At 8:30 AM, the 22 enthusiastic "tourists," together with Project coordinator Alicia Cohen and BHC presenters, gathered at the Library to board the tour mini bus. Starting out in Leesburg, Loudoun native Mary Randolph pointed out several historical sites including the fully accredited yet long-segregated Douglass High School.
Next visit, the Quaker Village of Waterford, home to both free and enslaved African Americans in its past. At A visit to the Second Street School, dedicated to the education of local black children, we heard from alumni Almeta Johnson, Vera Lewis and John Middleton, a special arrangement by Louis Jett. Final stop in the village, the Union Cemetery, led by local historian Bronwen Souders. We viewed the burial sites of several U.S. Colored Infantry Soldiers identified by their headstones or American flags.
Traveling through Purcellville, Louis Jett, a resident, provided a brief narrative on important sites: Carver School, Emancipation Grounds, and the "color line." Continuing on to St. Louis, Phyllis Cook-Taylor discussed the work of black men in the horse industry, and Banneker Elementary School, another important educational institution. In Middleburg, we were delighted to relax and enjoy lunch as guests at the beautiful Salamander Resort. After our break, Ms. Cook-Taylor continued her presentation with additional sites in Middleburg at "Bureau Corner," pointing out the churches and community center she attended as a child.
At Oatlands Plantation, Lori Kimball, programming director, led us through the mansion, discussing the history of the former owners and the work of their enslaved families. At our final community, Gleedsville, church historian Leslie Wright and Lauren Wilczynski shared the the history of this African American built community and the Mt. Olive Methodist Church (now Unitarian-Universalist Church). From the participants' written feedback, the heritage tour exceeded expectations!
This first tour was supported in part by a grant from the Loudoun Credit Union and a second tour is set for Saturday, June 25th, 2016