During Black History Month, explore the thriving African-American history scene around Prince William County. Historic sites around the area offer diverse interpretive programs as well as a glimpse into Virginia's yesteryear.
At the Brentsville Historical Site (12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, Va.), about 40 miles southwest of D.C., you'll find an 1822-era courthouse and jail, a Union church and a one-room school house built in 1928.
Thirteen executions were recorded at the jail in the mid-1800s, and all but one were of African-Americans. One runaway slave was killed after he tried to burn his way out of jail; evidence of the fire is still visible on the beams.
The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset every day. The site also includes a mile long nature trail highlighting the area’s natural resources.
Head three miles north to tour the Lucasville School (10516 Godwin Drive, Manassas, Va.). The school was built in 1885 solely for African-American children; now the interactive site allows visitors to write on chalkboards and read from books that are more than a century old. The school is open for tours every weekend in February.
After your tour, take a walk in the five-acre archaeological park at the Industrial School/Jennie Dean Memorial (9601 Wellington Road, Manassas, Va.), which is located on the grounds of what was once the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth. The Industrial School was a source of higher education in NoVa for African-Americans and was founded by the former slave Jennie Dean.
At the Ben Lomond Historic Site (10321 Sudly Manor Dr., Manassas, Va.), get a realistic feel of the life of a slave and explore one of the last remaining public slave quarters in Northern Virginia. Sit on a reproduction of a slave's bed while you learn about life as a slave. Then visit the plantation house that served as a Civil War hospital, where graffiti from the soldiers is still visible on the walls of the home.