Listen to Elegba Folklore Society’s Program Director Omilade Janine Bell as she speaks on the Trail of Enslaved Africans.
In the Beginning… Virginia, Along the Trail of Enslaved Africans & Other Notable Sites
Reserve For Your Group
Journey into Richmond’s history to visit the sites where few monuments exist. These newly marked sites tell the other half of the story; the story that lives between the pages of history books — in red, white and black. An interactive experience along the Trail of Enslaved Africans, attendees have the chance to ponder the impact of enslavement on the enslaved as shared in their own words and from their own view. Embarking by bus after a contextual visit to the Society’s cultural center, participants will walk in our ancestors’ footsteps from their arrival point at river’s edge into Shockoe Bottom, the area of Richmond that housed the holding pens, jails, blocks and burial ground. The interpreters will interweave the narratives of enslaved Africans with the historical record, characterizations of the day and music. Disembarking from your bus and along the walk, participants will have the chance to immerse themselves in past occurrences that impact our perspectives today.
Enhance the experience to explore the African presence in the Civil War. Interrelate dates, times and places with what you think you know. Get ready for the “Aha! moment.” Gain new perspectives about conflict, courage and commitment.
Extend the experience into Historic Jackson Ward, Richmond’s first professional African American residential and business district. Visit the Black History Museum, the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site or historic churches. Include a memorable tour of the campus of Virginia Union University. See the prestigious art gallery and the Governor L. Douglas Wilder memorabilia collection. Photograph the Arthur Ashe, Jr. monument, visit the civil rights monument at Capitol Square or take in related exhibitions at your choice of Richmond museums.
While we will tailor our guidance to satisfy the touring program you seek, as is, the basic tour, before the enhancements, requires three and one-half to four hours. Please encourage participants to wear comfortable shoes and dress. After departing Elegba Folklore Society’s Cultural Center, the sites along the trail occur in a wooded area along the river as well as in urban city settings. Please be sure to have bottled water.
We can also provide meals, lodging, water and tour packaging services that include help with transportation.
Our Soul Lives Here
The tour unfolds from the comfort of the bus and invites participants to visit sites of African American memory — homes, churches, schools, theaters and more. Meet those who lived and worked inside, getting a glimpse of the times; of biography and social life. Learn the stories of the black architects who created lasting testaments of our presence. Feel hoisted by all who made something out of nothing, and then who passed the baton to us. Our soul lives here — in the dirt that remembers our footsteps, in the work of our hands, in the lament of our hearts, in the accomplishment of our minds and in our belief. Carter G. Woodson said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
Our step-on guide hosts the experience and may be joined by additional step-on portrayers of living history.
“Mind boggling! I have learned more about slavery today than in my lifetime. We should all go through this experience to be in touch with some of what our ancestors went through.”
“I am blessed, truly blessed. This tour opened my eyes.”
“I would recommend this program not to just African Americans but to people of all races. Black history is everyone’s history.”
“Even though I am a citizen of Trinidad, it affected me a great deal.”
“Insightful and profound. The music, enactment and acting made this experience more intense.”
“I applaud your knowledge and the artistic way you share it. None of this information is in the history books.”
“Words cannot express what gift you have given to our group. Who would have known that the work would have changed so many and so profoundly?”
“My emotions ran the gamut — pain, anger, resentment, joy. The presenters are a gift of God.”