Rich with Black History, Visit Richmond for a Weekend Well-spent
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Black history exists around nearly every corner in our capital, Richmond. It’s said that as many as 1 in 4 Black Americans can trace their roots back to this city due to its place as a hub during American slavery. However, birthed out of a painful history is a vibrant culture that honors history through museums, art, and cultural experiences.
Day 1 - Spend a Day in Jackson Ward
Jackson Ward, a neighborhood once dubbed “Black Wall Street” was home to free blacks and enslaved individuals, along with European immigrants and Jewish residents before the Civil War. By the early 20th century, it had become one of the premier centers of African American business, social, and residential life in the United States. Black-owned businesses such as the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, the Southern Aid Insurance Company, the Richmond Planet newspaper, and Miller's Hotel (later Eggleston Hotel) thrived during legalized racial segregation. In the 1950s the new interstate highway bisected Jackson Ward. The area became a National Historical Landmark in 1978.
Visit Maggie Walker House and Historical Marker
Maggie Walker, an African American entrepreneur and civil rights activist, promoted economic empowerment for the Black community. Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903, becoming the first Black woman in the U.S. to establish and serve as president of a bank. She helped organize a major boycott of Richmond’s segregated streetcars in 1904 and served on the national boards of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women.
Grab a midday bite at Urban Hang Suite Social Cafe
Owned by entrepreneur Kelli Lemon, Urban Hang Suite is a loving tribute to many of Richmond’s inspirational and entrepreneurial women. Grab a sandwich or some of their seafood salad and a drink and chat with some of the locals—they call it a social cafe for a reason.
Visit the John Mitchell, Jr., "Fighting Editor" Historical Marker
In 1883, he launched a daring journalism career, becoming editor and publisher of the black-owned Richmond Planet once located near here. Known as the "Fighting Editor," Mitchell crusaded against lynching, served on the Richmond City Council (1888–1896) and founded the Mechanics Savings Bank in 1902. In 1904, he led a boycott of Richmond’s segregated streetcars.
Good weather? Consider a Mending Walls Bike Tour
Richmond has one of the largest collections of public art in the country and taking a tour of “Mending Walls,” a public art project spearheaded by artist, Hamilton Glass, is a great way to see many of the murals that color the city landscape. Glass launched Mending Walls to “Bring about healing through public art while adding something meaningful to the conversation of Black Lives Matter.”
How about dinner at Southern Kitchen followed by drinks at the Deuce?
Bring your appetite and indulge in some soul food at Jackson Ward’s vibrant Southern Kitchen. You may recognize owner Shane Thomas from her television appearances, notably on the Food Network’s “Chopped.” Cross the street and grab a drink at her second Jackson Ward eatery—named for the street on which it lives— The Deuce.
Spend the Night Here and Get Some Rest
Consider a stay at one of Richmond’s historic hotels such as the Linden Row Inn. While not part of Black History, Edgar Allan Poe spent some of his childhood in Richmond, living where the Inn stands today. It’s been said that the enchanted garden from his famous poem “To Helen” is about the gardens on this property!
Day 2 - A Good Day for a Drive
Start your day in Shockoe Bottom and see the Slave Auction Site Historical Marker and Reconciliation Statue
Richmond holds the dubious “honor” of being one of the key ports in the American Slave Trade and Shockoe Bottom was the site of one of the most active auction sites. Stand at the corner of East Main St and 15th St and imagine the scene as it was in the 1800’s and then continue across 15th street to reach Reconciliation Triangle.
Head Back to Jackson Ward and Stop by the Black History Museum and Cultural Center
The museum is in the Leigh Street Armory, a building with a rich history of its own. After falling into disrepair in the 1980’s, the building was saved and restored. The Black History Museum, which has operated in Jackson Ward since 1991, took ownership of the building and debuted in their new location in 2016.
Take a Trip to the Northside to See the former Chandler Junior High School
The school, now housing Richmond Community High School, was a first in Richmond—it was integrated by 12-year-old Carol Swann and 13-year-old Gloria Mead on September 6, 1960.
Grab a sweet treat at Ruby Scoops
While you’re in Northside, head down Brookland Park Boulevard to grab some ice cream at Rabia Kamara’s Ruby Scoops. Ice cream superfans will recognize Rabia as the winner of the Food Network’s “Ben & Jerry’s Clash of the Cones.” The natural, handcrafted treats will satisfy a variety of palates—their traditional and vegan options rotate on a regular basis.
Day 3 - Take Your Time to Unwind
Brunch at Lillie Pearl
Lillie Pearl is quickly building a legendary reputation in Richmond, for good reason. Led by Husband-and-wife restaurateurs, Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey, the New American spot blends Chef Mike’s Southern roots with a beautiful blend of West African culinary references.
The church, colloquially known as “The Mount,” is still in operation today. The Rev. John Jasper, born a slave in Fluvanna County on July 4, 1812, organized the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church congregation in Richmond on September 2,1867 in a former Confederate stable on Brown's Island. A nationally celebrated preacher, Jasper was best known for his 1878 sermon "De Sun Do Move," which he later delivered by invitation more than 250 times.