What do you know about Alexandria, Virginia besides what you already think you know about the place? Do you have at least some knowledge of Alexandria Black History Museum, the Watson Reading Room, or its African American Heritage Park? It’s a strong possibility that many don’t have any knowledge of what the focus is within the Black community like the Alexandria Black History Museum, even though you’ll encounter from time to time non-Black individuals with a certain capacity to involve themselves outside of their own group(s) who truly are participants of places and issues outside of their own kind. Although more than likely it’ll be a part of the Black community’s vernacular, it’s not that you can’t find non-Black persons discussing such topics, or visiting African American specific places but it’s how often is the question at hand.
Heavy and deep involvement with spirituality, God, the church and politics, education, along with social issues have all played a very significant role in the lives of the African American community since the beginning; and with the church and politics being married to one another within the African American community these two areas are very much intertwined in all aspects of their lives. This strong marriage of church and politics has always been deeply a part of African Americans’ heritage since it has been a foundation to how Black people operate within their communities. Church to African Americans is where all things happened and were discussed simply because historically the church was where issues could be handled by the African American community, so their ties to the church continue to become as important as it was back then. In today’s modern world, the Church has not been replaced by other entities, but instead, other formats such as radio has joined in to play a strong role as well- with Black radio personalities becoming communicators of Black issues on a broad level.
Ignore the media and how they’ll twist certain situations into something else that doesn’t reflect reality simply because these people (along with other outsiders) don’t understand how the church, the Preacher, and African Americans work and are heavily related. You know how Black people realize and know outsiders don’t know any better? Just remember what happened when President Obama originally ran for President, and how he had to pretend to back away from the Black church and his minister because outsiders couldn’t take or didn’t understand the role of the Black American minister. Yes people, the Black minister is and can be that hardcore, with many acting or serving as the word for all things Black people in America deal with- just like they always have. The Preacher in the Black community represents much more than just spirituality and God; they don’t just focus or deal with Spirituality and God, but finances, social issues, racial issues, family issues, the economy and how that relates to the Black community, and basically all areas because they all affect the Black community. Word of the wise, don’t speak about what you don’t really know about, and everybody’s ideal of others will be clearer.
Speaking of making an issue clear, Black museums are all about clarity, and showcasing the truth about Black people as a whole. Your nearest Black museum, no matter of its size, will be a great outlet for all educational tools. Whether it’s the programs, tours, outreach kits, lesson plans, and of course the everyday visits that occur daily you can’t go wrong with participating on some level with any Black museum.
Like other Black museums, Alexandria Black History Museum has linked with elementary, middle and high schools to inform and teach the youth. Certain subjects include: A Look At Virginians During Reconstruction (elementary school), The Rise and Fall of Reconstruction in Virginia (elementary school), Reconstruction (middle school), and Civil War and Reconstruction (high school).
With a focus of historic places in Alexandria, Virginia the other lessons focus on two subjects, which are “A Loathsome Prison: Slave Trading in Antebellum Alexandria” and “America’s First Sit-Down Strike: The 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In.” These lesson plans were greatly inspired by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program.
If your interest leans more toward women studies, or African American women, then the museum has designed a program for fourth grade students that correspond to the State of Virginia’s Standards of Learning. “A Century of Just Women” is what the program is titled; and this particular kit focuses on the contributions of Northern Virginia’s African American women. Of course all ages are welcome to learn about this worthy subject, and if your child’s school isn’t participating then don’t worry because these educational kits may be rented. Rent a kit here!
To schedule a tour, or just to visit the Alexandria Black History Museum, visit here to start your journey.