OCAAHS’ Juneteenth Celebration weaves the history of African Americans in Orange County through storytelling, song and dance, food, hands-on experiences, tours and historic demonstrations.
Resilience, Recovery, and Rebirth: Sustaining Hope in Trying Times
Resilience, Recovery, and Rebirth is a documentary about Fluvanna County’s African American history. Regular Juneteenth performers Odyssey of Soul teamed up with the Fluvanna County Arts Council and NAACP to a create a film that combines musical performances and interviews with community members and historians.
The Mere Distinction of Colour is a multimedia exhibition that offers visitors the opportunity to hear the stories of those enslaved at Montpelier told by their living descendants, and explores the legacy of slavery in our lives today. Take a virtual tour here.
Farmer Michael Carter Jr. uses his homestead in Orange County to grow African crops through the organic agriculture practice of Afroculture. Using his farm and food as a teaching tool, Carter leads programs that bring the discussion of race in America to the dinner table.
Rediscovering Little Petersburg is a documentary about a free African American community in Orange County. The film shares the history of the small self-sufficient, church centered community created by formerly enslaved people.
The Other Madisons is a documentary film based on the acclaimed book The Other Madisons: The Lost history of A President’s Black Family by Bettye Kearse. Created by award-winning filmmaker, Eduardo Montes-Bradley, this documentary celebrates the importance of oral history traditions.
The South Yard is a complex of reconstructed buildings that included the quarters of enslaved domestic servants. The South Yard features interpretive and furnished spaces that extend The Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit. Members of OCAAHS and the Montpelier Descendant Community worked with Montpelier staff to excavate, reconstruct, and interpret the South Yard.
For the annual OCAAHS membership meeting, board members Zann Nelson and Bruce Monroe created a video tour that shares the African American history of the Town of Orange.
Home to George Gilmore, who had been enslaved at Montpelier, his wife Polly, and generations of their family, today the Gilmore Cabin is fully restored to its 19th century appearance. Rebecca Gilmore Coleman, co-founder of OCAAHS and descendant of George Gilmore, was the leader in preserving the Gilmore Cabin and incorporating descendant involvement in how Montpelier interprets the past.
Written by historian and genealogist Zann Nelson, The History Investigator focuses on the history of the Virginia Piedmont. The articles bring to light many of the lesser known and most difficult components of the region’s past. You can find more of Zann writing in her weekly columns “Zann’s Place” and “Buried Truth.“
Learn the history of African American churches in Orange County and download a map to locate them.
Renowned historic craftsmen and culinary experts conduct demonstrations during Juneteenth. These demonstrations educate visitors about the highly skilled work of enslaved African Americans on plantations.
Women of the American Civil War Era
The Women of the American Civil War Era is a group dedicated to sharing the important stories and contributions of African American women during the Civil War through living history.
Working in collaboration with the Montpelier Enslaved Descendant Community and James Madison University, Montpelier is currently exploring ways to memorialize the Enslaved Cemetery.
Through powerful story telling and historic costuming Taryn Weaver transforms herself into Harriet Tubman. During the Juneteenth Celebration, she hosts Tea with Harriet and Me, where visitors are invited to sit and have a conversation with Harriet.
Formed in 1997, this proud group of African American men and women, have a mission to keep alive; the memory and contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers. The 9th and 10th Cavalry soldiers served in the United States Army on horseback. Formed in 1866, they fought in the Indian Wars on horseback until 1944. There were also Buffalo Soldiers in the 25th and 34th Infantry. The soldiers served even into the Vietnam War.
Reenactors of the 23rd United States Colored Troops Infantry Regiment are a regular feature of Juneteenth. They set up camps, where full uniforms, and share stories with visitors about what it was like to be a soldier during the Civil War.
The Home Farm Complex was the center of life at Montpelier during the early 19th century. Composed of numerous slave quarters, an overseers house, a blacksmith shop, barns, and many other yet-to-be discovered buildings, the Home Farm Complex is the center of Montpelier’s current archaeological investigations.
During the 2016 Juneteenth Celebration, members of the local African American community and descendants of the Montpelier enslaved community gathered to record family histories and share stories. You can read more about the enslaved people of Montpelier here.