This all-day, multi-stop event will show attendees how each area relates to one another.
On Nov. 18, the From Slavery To Freedom Bus Tour will take Northern Virginians on a journey through time beginning and ending at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, with stops at Mount Vernon’s Slave Cemetery, the Gum Springs Museum and the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial along the way. Led by local historians and museum curators, attendees will see how each otherwise isolated site influences the other, bridging gaps and clarifying timelines in NoVA’s history.
“This is one of the few times you get to hear from the people who created these exhibits or were involved in the restoration of these cemeteries,” Dan Lee, City of Alexandria Research Historian, said. “These are the people who care the most about these exhibits and they’re excited to share their knowledge and passion for these historic sites.”
The daylong event, which takes place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and includes a box lunch, kicks off with an exclusive viewing of Lives Bound Together, a new Mount Vernon exhibit that sheds light on the individuals enslaved at the estate. The exhibit will be on display through September 2019.
From there, tour-goers will head to Mount Vernon’s Slave Cemetery, where archaeologist Luke Pecoraro will lead an informational walk-through.
By bus, attendees will be taken to the Gum Springs Museum under the guidance of museum director Ron Chase, who happens to be a direct descendant of a Gum Springs community founder.
“You start with a slave cemetery that’s in the late 18th century and you go to Gum Springs, which is a community that really was started in the late 18th century, and then you go to Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery, which is from the 1860’s,” Lee explained. “Tracing history’s lines on a map is one thing, but to physically travel them is a unique experience.”
Next on the list of stops is the Alexandria Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial, the final resting place for the over 1,700 escaped slaves who crossed Confederate lines to fight on behalf of the Union during the Civil War. Audrey Davis, a representative from the Alexandria Black History Museum, will lead a discussion detailing the lives of the deceased, also making mention of how the county once allowed both a liquor store and gas station to be built on top of the gravesite.
While this is presently a one-time-only event, the City of Alexandria hopes to partner with Mount Vernon in the future for more historical bus tours.
Tickets cost $50.