One of the first Black communities in Arlington was Freedman’s Village, established on May 5, 1863, to house, educate and train formerly enslaved Black people. The U.S. Congress freed all the enslaved in the District of Columbia on April 16, 1862. The formerly enslaved had overrun DC and on May 5, 1863, they established Freedman’s Village to house, educate, and train the formerly enslaved citizens to establish their lives. The first Black community in Arlington was the Green Valley neighborhood that was initially settled in 1844 by a free black man, Levi Jones.
The history of the Arlington House, the residence on Arlington Estate can be found on the National Parks site, detailing how the property came to be owned by the U.S. Federal government.
The Arlington National Cemetery site has great information about Freedman’s Village from an article in the Connections Newspaper in 2004.
The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington has a great exhibit on Freedman’s Village at their location at 2611 Columbia Pike in Arlington.
The pressure on the Black people living at Freedman’s Village by the 1890’s was from the Federal government, especially the USDA that wanted to expand their agriculture presence on Arlington Estate, the U.S. Army who wanted the land to expand the Cemetery, and the local Arlington leaders who wanted the Black people out of Arlington because they were gaining political power.
Over the decade more Black people saw the writing on the wall and left Freedman’s Village for other Black neighborhoods in Arlington or the District of Columbia. By 1900, the Village was officially closed, with few of the owners of the residences or businesses fairly compensated for their property.
In addition to the Arlington Cemetery and National Parks sites linked above, there is a publicly available research thesis with detailed information about Black Arlington, Built By the People Themselves – African American Community Development in Arlington, Virginia, From the Civil War through Civil Rights, authored by Lindsey Bestebreurtje. Please visit these sites to learn more about Freedman’s Village.
COMING IN 2022
The HallsHill.com blog will be Shining a Black Light on Virginia History. Each Sunday a new TikTok video will be published focusing on an aspect of Virginia history, primarily Arlington initially, but eventually highlighting other important perspectives of our shared history. The weekly blog will provide more information and links to delve further into the facts. I hope you join me on this exploration. Peace and blessings to you all.
This Week’s TIKTOK:
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