Inalienable Rights: Free and Enslaved Blacks Crafting a Life in the Shenandoah Valley

Belle Grove will honor its African American history with special programming on Saturday, November 10, 10am-6pm. Admission is free of charge. Throughout the day we will present the history and experiences of African Americans at this site and in the Shenandoah Valley through living history demonstrations of hearth cooking and blacksmithing, talks, and National Park Service ranger programs.

The Hite family at Belle Grove owned and enslaved 276 men, women, and children from 1783 to 1851. Their lives and legacy must not be forgotten. Research is underway to learn about the contributions of the enslaved to the success of the Belle Grove. Please join this ongoing process of discovery and conversation.

The event will include Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, The Slave Dwelling Project, and the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project, and other local groups. The Slave Dwelling Project’s mission is to identify and assist property owners with documenting and preserving extant slave dwellings and they bring people together to talk about these important spaces of American history. While Belle Grove’s slave quarters have long ago been removed, the Slave Dwelling Project will discuss the lower level of the Manor House, one place where the enslaved worked and may have slept. There will also be an opportunity to learn about the archaeological evidence that has been found where Belle Grove’s slave quarters once stood.

10:00 am      Belle Grove opens

10:30 – 11:00      Presentation “Not Everyone Was Enslaved: The Freeborn of the Shenandoah Valley,” Robin Lyttle, Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project

11:15 – 11:45       Hearth Cooking Demonstration, Jerome Bias and Terry James, The Slave Dwelling Project

12:00 – 12:30    Interpretive Program "Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse into the Life of the Enslaved Cook Judah," Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

1:00 – 2:00     Presentation "The Slave Dwelling Project," Joe McGill, Founder of The Slave Dwelling Project

2:30 – 3:00     Presentation "Archaeological Investigation of the Slave Quarter Site at Belle Grove," Matthew Greer, Archaeologist, Syracuse University

3:15 – 3:45     Hearth Cooking Demonstration, Jerome Bias and Terry James, The Slave Dwelling Project

4:00 – 4:30     Interpretive Program "Kneading in Silence: A Glimpse into the Life of the Enslaved Cook Judah," Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

5:00     Upper Level of Belle Grove Manor House Closes

5:00 – 6:00      Interpretive Program "Free at Last: The Complicated Road to Freedom for Emmanuel Jackson," Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park