Great Hopes - An African-American Journey

Greater Williamsburg and the surrounding areas offer rich insight into African-American history, from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the 19th century and present times.

Day One

Guided Tour of Historic Jamestowne focusing on the arrival of Africans to Virginia in 1619 and the Royal African Company responsible for supplying slaves to Jamestown
1:00 – 2:45 pm

A National Park Service site, Historic Jamestowne offers a wealth of activities for exploring the first permanent English settlement in North America.  Founded in May 1607, some 13 years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, Jamestown served as the capital of Virginia throughout the 17th century and saw the establishment of the language, customs, laws and government practiced in our nation today.

Guided tour of Jamestown Settlement focusing on the Africans from the Kongo/Angola region of West Central Africa, their cultural origins, their interactions with the English in Virginia and the 17th-century Virginia culture they helped to create.
3:00 – 5:00 pm

At Jamestown Settlement, comprehensive gallery exhibits describe world events and social and economic conditions that led to the English colonization of America and the formation of the Virginia Company that sponsored Jamestown with a goal of earning its investors a profit.  Learn about the land and lifestyle of Algonquian-speaking tribes in coastal Virginia under the powerful leader Powhatan and about the culture of the first documented Africans in Virginia.  Outdoor living-history areas bring the 17th century to life – the re-created Powhatan Indian village, re-created James Fort, Riverfront Discovery Area, and full-size replicas of the three ships, Susan Constant, Discovery and Godspeed, that transported the original Jamestown colonists to Virginia in 1607.

Check into your Williamsburg Accommodations
5:30 pm

Choose from limited to full-service properties with exterior or interior corridors, indoor or outdoor pools, with deluxe continental breakfast or full breakfast buffet, priced from budget and moderate to deluxe. Click here for information on group accommodations.

Dinner and Optional Shopping
7:00 pm

Shopping available at Merchants Square, New Town, Williamsburg Premium Outlets, Williamsburg Outlet Mall or Yankee Candle

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations
9:00 pm

Day Two

Tour Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the political, social and cultural capital of Britain’s largest, wealthiest and most populous colony. Colonial Williamsburg encompasses more than 500 buildings and 90 acres of magnificent gardens.

In 1979, Colonial Williamsburg became a pioneer in the presentation of 18th-century African-American history.  Thirty years later, the story of Williamsburg’s free and enslaved African-American residents remains an integral part of programming throughout the Historic Area.  During your visit, you’ll have an opportunity to interact with free and enslaved Virginians as they debate and discuss the events leading up to American independence during Revolutionary City, a live street theater presentation. At Great Hopes Plantation, a typical rural farm where through a variety of hands on opportunities, will learn how most Virginia lived more than 200 years ago.

Lunch in a Colonial Tavern
1:00 pm

Taverns were not only an integral part of colonial life in America, but were also a necessity.  The modes of travel and transportation of the day mandated the location of a tavern every few miles on the main thoroughfares.  Each of the operating taverns located in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is inspired by a different style of colonial-era cooking.

Continue Guided Tour of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area
2:15 -5:00 pm

Return to your Accommodations to relax before dinner
5:15 pm

6:30 pm

You can choose from a wide selection of Williamsburg area restaurants to match anyone’s palatial tastes or budgets!  For group dining information, click here

“African-American Music” at Great Hopes Plantation
8:30 pm

Appreciate and understand the music, songs, and dances of the 18th-century African-American community which borrowed from the many cultures of Africa and Europe.  In the 18th-century African-American community, there were opportunities for everyone to participate, whether it was singing, dancing or playing an  instrument.  Keep the rhythms, sing the songs and dance the dances adapted from the West African people during colonial America. (Ticket Required)

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations
9:30 pm

Day Three

Breakfast at your Williamsburg Accommodations
7:30 am

Depart for Newport News
8:30 am

Visit the Virginia War Museum
9:00 – 10:00 am

American military history unfolds at the Virginia War Museum. Outstanding collections of personal artifacts, weapons, vehicles, uniforms, posters and much more, trace the development of the U.S. military from colonial times through the present. The Marches Toward Freedom gallery explores the roles of African-Americans in the military since 1775.  Future generations of his family would continue his tradition of military service, and many would remain in the Hampton Roads area.  Photographs and personal artifacts from members of the famous Tuskegee Airmen are also featured in the gallery.

Visit the James A. Fields House
10:30 – 11:00 am

James A. Fields (1844-1903) was a born a slave in Hanover County, VA.  In 1862, he and his brother escaped slavery and found refuge at Fort Monroe in Hampton.  His restored home is historically significant for its long association with the development of the social and civic life of the African-American community in Newport News.  In 1908, four doctors pooled their savings and asked the Fields family for use of the top floor to start a hospital.  From these modest beginnings, Whitaker Memorial Hospital was born. Other than the city jail’s infirmary, this institution represented the only outlet for hospitalization of blacks and provided two years of generous service to the black community.

Visit the Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center
11:15 am – 12:15 pm

The Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center is the restored 1899 residence of the African-American attorney J. Thomas Newsome and his wife Mary Winfield Newsome. Mr. Newsome was a respected attorney, journalist, churchman and civic leader, and prospered as part of the postwar Civil War south’s new urban African-American middle class. His elegant Queen Anne residence served as the hub of the local black community from which he led the fight for social justice within Virginia.

Lunch on own at the Peninsula Town Center
12:45 – 2:00 pm

Visit Fort Monroe and the Casemate Museum
2:15 – 3:15 pm

The largest stone fort ever built in the United States, Fort Monroe is headquarters for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Within the historic fort’s stone walls is the Casemate Museum, which chronicles the history of the fort and the Coast Artillery Corps. During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was a Union-held bastion in the center of a Confederate state and helped shelter thousands of slave refugees, earning it the nickname Freedom’s Fortress.

Visit Hampton University Museum and Campus including a stop at the Emancipation Oak
3:30 – 5:00 pm

Founded in 1868, the museum is the oldest African-American museum in the United States and one of the oldest museums in the state of Virginia. The collection features more than 9,000 objects, including African-American fine arts; traditional and African, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island, and Asian art; and objects relating to the history of Hampton University.

Emancipation Oak is a historic tree located on the campus of Hampton University.  In September 1861, the peaceful shade of the young oak served as the first classroom for newly freed African American men and women eager for an education.  In 1863, the Virginia Peninsula’s black community gathered under the oak to hear the first Southern reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, leading to its nickname as the Emancipation Oak.

Depart for Williamsburg
5:00 pm

6:30 pm

“Papa Said, Mama Said” at Colonial Williamsburg
8:30 pm

Experience a moving program in which 18th-century free and enslaved blacks reflect on lessons learned through stories told by the elders. This is an interactive program that explores the significance of oral African tradition,  Guests participate in the experience featuring recollections of stories that teach moral lessons that have been passed down from generation to generation. (Ticket required.)

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations
9:30 pm

Day Four

Breakfast at your Williamsburg Accommodations
7:00 am

Check out of your Accommodations and load luggage.

Depart for Shirley Plantation
8:00 am

Visit Shirley Plantation
9:00 – 10:15 am

Shirley tells the story of the Hill-Carter family, eyewitnesses to 11 generations of American history.  To this day, the 11th generation continues to own, operate, and work this grand southern plantation. Shirley Plantation is Virginia’s first plantation (1613) and one of the first economic engines of the New World.  Enslaved labor played a very important role at Shirley Plantation, and slaves were essential to the plantation system.  They tended the fields, harvested the crops, maintained the house, cooked the meals, and provided the majority of skilled labor including carpentry, masonry and blacksmithing.  Today, Shirley continues to be a working plantation, a private family home, a growing business, a National Historic Landmark and a direct link between the past and the present.

Depart for Richmond
10:30 am

Visit the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia and the Maggie Walker National Historical Site (lunch on your own)
11:15 am – 3:00 pm

Founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson Sr., the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia collects and exhibits artifacts and objects that serve to illustrate the history of Black peoples, with an emphasis on Virginians. Located in the heart of historic Jackson Ward, the museum has a collection of nearly 5,000 artifacts and documents, art and photography.

The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site commemorates the life of a progressive and talented African American woman. Despite many adversities, she achieved success in the world of business and finance as the first woman in the United States to charter and serve as president of a bank. The site includes her residence of 30 years and a visitor center detailing her life and the Jackson Ward community in which she lived and worked. The house is restored to its 1930’s appearance with original Walker family pieces.

Riding tour of the Arthur Ashe, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Richmond Slavery Reconciliation Statue and Virginia Civil Rights Memorial
3:00 – 3:20 pm

Depart for Return Home
3:30 pm

For more information, contact Vivian Bunting, Consumer Sales Manager, Tourism.