Africa to Carolina exhibit comes to Washington

Published 8:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2024

By Clark Curtis

For the Washington Daily News

The Africa to Carolina Exhibit will be on display at the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum through the month of February, during Black History Month. The exhibit is part of an ongoing initiative started in 2017 by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission . “We at the Heritage Commission along with Leesa Jones, the director of the Underground Railroad Museum, find it critically important to talk about African American history 365 days out of the year, and the traveling exhibit is one way of doing it,” said Adrienne Nirdé, director of the NC African American Heritage Commission. “The traveling exhibit, along with permanent displays in other coastal North Carolina towns, serve as a constant  reminder that African American history is American history, something that isn’t typically taught in our schools. Just because it is complex or difficult to hear does not make it any less important or significant. The traveling exhibit serves as another opportunity to engage and teach people information that may be entirely new to them. The more eyes and awareness we can bring to this, the better it is for us as North Carolinians to understand where we came from, and to learn the history of our ancestors and our neighbors.”

Jones is “super excited” about the opportunity to collaborate with the NC African American Heritage Commission and to host the traveling exhibit throughout the month of February. “The exhibit and the work of the commission is a goldmine for researchers and historians who are tracking African Americans who were brought to North Carolina on Slave ships,” said Jones. “Through its research, we now know of the many different ports in the state where the enslaved were brought into the places we call home. This also includes the town of Bath, where in 1754, 16 enslaved individuals were brought. And through the work of the commission, we are hoping to find out if some of the Slave ships also came directly to the Port of Washington. The exhibit really gives us an opportunity to share all of this information on a broader scale with the public.”

Jones added that the exhibit will make Washington even more of  a destination  place that people and historians will gravitate to. “‘Washington is like a history magnet,” said Jones. “People come from all over the world to visit the Underground Railroad Museum. The exhibit will afford visitors yet another opportunity to learn more about our history and in some cases the history of some of their own ancestors.”

“We are a very small team working across the state and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without folks such as Leesa,” added Nirdé. “We cheer her for all of her work!”

For more information about the Africa To Carolina exhibit and the days and hours it will be open please contact the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum at 609-444-8974.