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  • Denetra Hampton

Chasing History: The Oldest Black Community In The United States

Updated: Jan 5

Pocahontas Island, located in Petersburg Va., is the oldest black community in the United States. It was a part of the underground railroad and I had a chance to visit with Richard Stewart, the curator and owner of the Pocahontas Island Black History Museum.

It also serves as the Pocahontas Black History Museum. A museum that Mr. Stewart serves as the curator and founder. As a result, he has collected items from slave shackles to celebrities who have stopped by to visit. A master of his craft, every word cut like the images of slavery themselves.


Richard Stewart comes from a long line of descents from Petersburg, Va., eight generations to be exact. He has dedicated his life to preserving the artifacts and history of African Americans who toiled the soil of Pocahontas Island. At 78 years old, his expertise and wisdom were tangible. I sat quietly, and sheepishly, as he shared the history of the house. A house whose origin was 1832, has he vividly shares that I was in an original house on original ground.


In this raw conversation with Richard Stewart, he speaks about how he met Larry Holmes, a boxing great of the culture. I chuckled at this clip, because I could feel the story of this legendary man, reeling me in.

Although not your typical modern architecture, the museum clearly wreaks of a soul on fire. Items were set up in an organized fashion from one room to the other and clearly marked with its' preservation intent.


The Underground Railroad

Home to some of the earliest slaves since 1732, this black community is the soul of Petersburg. An homage to the Underground Railroad, it keeps the legacy of the Jarratt House. A house over 200 years old that was used as part of the underground railroad. Circa 1820.


An astounding voyage through time. It is a must visit.





Please visit

Pocahontas Black History Museum

224 Witten St.

Petersburg, Va,


Appt Only.

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