From November 6 -10, 2013 I attended the 31st annual National Association of Black Storytellers Festival & Convention in Hampton, Virginia. On Wednesday (11/6) before the festival officially began, there was a tour that highlighted some of the Black history sites in Hampton. We had a libation ceremony at the site that is considered to be where the first Africans came into America.
We moved on to the Hampton Museum & Visitors Center and saw a special exhibit, entitled "Toward Freedom: Hampton and the Contraband Exhibit". The most powerful statement the curator made was that he put together the exhibit to show the human side of enslaved people because too often the enslaved are grouped together as "slaves" with no indication that they are individuals with names, families, and lives (Mike Cobb, curator). It was very emotional looking upon the faces of the nameless men, women, and children and hearing the "contraband" story. Escaped enslaved individuals and families made their way to the Hampton area and in some strange, acceptable way they were declared "contraband" -- not enslaved but not quite free and allowed to stay in the area. The exhibit includes photographs, artifacts, documents and audio-visual presentations. Our time there was much too short for me.
At the last stop before dinner we learned that Hampton Institute had an "Indian Program" in the late 19th century with the purpose to "civilize and educate" American Indians. There were over 1,000 students in the program that came from various Indian nations in the Midwest (not quite sure if they came voluntarily). The program ended in the 1920s. Below are markers of those who died while at Hampton Institute.
At each of these sites I wanted to tarry and commune with the ancestors. Very spiritual . . .