Events 2014

Special Events


Frank Walker

Black Stories

July 25 – October 11, 2014

Opening reception
Saturday, July 26 | 6 – 8 pm

Frank Walker will give gallery talk at 7 pm

About the exhibition >


September 17, 2014 | 6 pm


Lecture and book signing
Andrew Kahrl
Assistant Professor Department of History, Carter G. Woodson Institute

Castles Made of Sand:
The Rise and Demise of African American Beaches in the Mid-Atlantic South

In the 1950s the coasts and waterways of Virginia and Maryland were home to scores of African American beach resorts, amusement parks, country clubs, and summer vacation communities. Servicing the leisure and recreational needs of a segregated black public and spawning a host of businesses and enterprises, African American-owned coastal properties played an important, if often overlooked, role in shaping black culture and economic life under Jim Crow. And yet, by the 1970s, most of these resorts were gone and much of the land was being lost to land speculators and real estate developers. Award-winning historian Andrew W. Kahrl will reveal the hidden history of black beaches in the segregated South and tell the remarkable story of how African American families, businessmen and women, and investors acquired land along the Chesapeake and Atlantic and helped to create a vibrant black leisure economy during the first half of the twentieth century. He will recount their struggles to keep these communities intact and businesses afloat following desegregation. Finally, Kahrl will discuss how the meteoric rise of coastal real estate values made black landowners in these areas the victims of a variety of predatory and exploitative schemes that resulted in the loss of their land and the chance to share in the region’s prosperity. It is a story, he will argue, that offers important lessons for understanding the development and persistence of the racial wealth gap in America today.

After lecture Dr. Kahrl will sign copies of his book The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (2012)

This event is free and open to the public. Cost of book is $40, members receive 10% discount.

This lecture and book signing is made possible through the generous support of the Blue Moon Fund and Hampton Inn and Suites.


Teacher Open House

September 25| 6pm

Help us develop the tools that will support your teaching. Come and share refreshments and hear about the programs offered by the African American Heritage Center. Take a tour of the temporary exhibition Frank Walker | Black Stories with the artist. Learn how this exhibition and others can be used in your teaching.


This event is made possible through the generous support of Shirley French.


2nd Annual Volunteer-athon

September 26| 6-8 pm

We are kicking off our month-long volunteer recruitment period with a little get-together. Learn what we do and how you can help us accomplish our goal of diversifying the Charlottesville’s cultural landscape. Come and join the family.

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Vote! Why?

Because it's Your Right!

Tuesday October 7, 2014 | 6 pm
Film and Discussion

Join the City of Charlottesville Office of Human Rights, the NAACP and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center for a discussion on the new voter ID law and why it is important to exercise our right to vote.  Discussion will be followed by showing of the PBS video Freedom Summer.


October 15, 2014 | 6 pm


“The War of the Churches”: Pastors, Politics, and the Press in Charlottesville’s African American Community, 1890-92″
Scott French
Associate Professor History Department, University of Central Florida

Dr. French will shed new light on a tumultuous three-year period in the late 19th century history of Charlottesville’s African American churches. A bitter public dispute over ministerial credentials and claims to race leadership split the local Baptist congregations (Delevan First Colored & Mt. Zion First African), hastened the departures of their feuding pastors (Rev. R. Alonzo Scott and Rev. J. Francis Robinson), and inspired the establishment of a new, breakaway church (Ebenezer Baptist, led by Rev. Alexander Truatt). At the heart of these so-called “church wars,” which embroiled pastors and deacons from neighboring counties as well, lay sharply divergent ideologies of racial advancement and social/political activism in the Age of Booker T. Washington. Special attention will be paid to the way in which the feuding ministers used the black press and the church pulpit in tandem to advance their views and enhance their relative stature as race leaders within a broader, inter-regional social network. Robinson’s sharp editorial commentary, in particular, drew moralizing white commentators and angry white “regulators” into the fray and highlighted the perils of the itinerant black minister as community organizer in the Jim Crow South. Finally, by way of contrast, we will examine the religious training and career portfolios of Revs. Scott and Robinson, the two ministers at the center of the dispute, to better understand their divergent outlooks and why they were chosen to lead their respective congregations in Charlottesville.

This lecture is made possible through the generous support of the Blue Moon Fund.

The Coachman - Small File

The Coachman

A Lorenzo Dickerson Film

Saturday  October 18| 3pm
Discussion to follow film

The Coachman is a documentary short about the life (1887-1946) of a local African American domestic worker in Albemarle County, Virginia who worked for one of the area’s most distinguished estates. He came from slaves, held a position of prestige, enjoyed love and endured heartache and loss. He lived through Jim Crow, The Great Depression, Great Migration, WWI and WW II. Although he died with a less than glamorous social statues, he built a family of people willing to work hard and strive for greater heights.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments available for purchase at our concession stand.



Wine 101

with wine importer Simon n Cellars

A Night for the Finer Things in Life!
Art Wine Culture 
Tuesday October 21| 6 pm

Come to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center for its inaugural wine 101. What better way to learn about wine, than to drink it? The theme for this first foray into vino will be Chardonnay. Chardonnay could perhaps be one of the most divisive grapes in the wine world, and for good reason, as it is so diverse. This is your chance to decide what type of Chardonnay you like, whether it big and buttery, or elegant and ripe. Don’t be intimidated, this is a casual gateway into wine, it doesn’t matter if your an expert, or a complete novice, either way there’s great wine to be had. Konrad Turnbull from Simon N Cellars, a wine importer based out of Charlottesville, will be returning to pour and tour the wines, so there should be fun had all around. We look forward to seeing you!

Suggested donation members $5, non-members $8

Life Doesn't Frighten Me cover image

Wednesday | October 22 3:30-5:00 pm

Story time!

Wednesday | October 22, 3:30-5:00 pm

Story Time!

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Poem by Maya Angelou
Illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Come and experience lively storytelling, songs, movement and activities as we delve into books exploring and celebrating African American culture.  These stories will jump start and enliven family and community conversations about our local and national history.

Maya Angelou’s brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves. Angelou’s strong words are matched by the daring vision of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose childlike style reveals the powerful emotions and fanciful imaginings of childhood. Together, Angelou’s words and Basquiat’s paintings create a place where every child, indeed every person, may experience his or her own fearlessness

The session’s stories, songs, and activities suitable for 4-8 year old children and their parents/caretakers.

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Tuesday, October 28 | 6-7 pm


Reinterpreting Slavery at Local Sites: A Community Discussion
Gary Sandling, Vice President of Visitor Programs and Services, Monticello
Matt Reeves, Director of Archaeology, Montpelier
Ben Ford, Principal Investigator, Rivanna Archaeological Services

Reception following discussion

Slavery and early African American history are central to the history of our region, which attracts over 500,000 visitors per year for historic tourism.  Three major attractions–Monticello, Montpelier, and the University of Virginia–are in the process of reevaluating the way slavery is presented to the public and are endeavoring to tell a more accurate and personal history of slavery.  Please join us for a community discussion about the way slavery is presented at these sites. Gary Sandling, Matt Reeves, and Ben Ford will make brief presentations on how each site has researched and interpreted its slave history.  After the presentations, we encourage audience members to ask questions and give their ideas about how Monticello, Montpelier and UVA can better reflect community desires in their interpretation of antebellum African American history.


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Halloween Binge Films

Come in Costume!

1 (n) a period or bout, usually brief of excessive indulgence. 2 (v) to have a binge 3 (n) three films back-to-back

Friday, October 31| 6 pm-12 pm

In October, we present the 1st of our binge film sessions, this time focused on the horror film genre.  We examine the blaxplotation horror genre, defined as films involving mostly black actors portraying black stereotypes for cultural identity or humor. Our chosen films, Blacula, Ganja and Hess, and Bones span a period from 1972-2001, allowing us to see how this particular genre has evolved.

Suggested donation members: One film $3, All three $9
Suggested donation non-members: One film $5, All three $15

Blacula| 6 pm
William Crain, Director
1972 run time 92 minutes

An ancient African prince, turned into a vampire by Dracula himself, finds himself in modern Los Angeles.

Watch Blacula trailer

Ganja and Hess |8pm
Bill Gunn, Director
1973 run time 110 minutes

After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor’s assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.

Watch Ganja and Hess trailer

Bones|10 pm
Ernest Dickerson, Director
2001 run time 96 minutes

Over 20 years after his death by a gunshot, Jimmy Bones comes back as a ghost to wreak revenge on those who killed him and to clean up his neighborhood.

Watch Bones trailer

This event is made possible through the generous support of  Blue Moon Fund.

the learning tree film stillVFilmF logo

The Learning Tree

Gordon Parks, Director
1969 run time 107 minutes

Sunday  November 9 | 2pm

Based on his book of the same name, Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree follows Newt, a sharp, African-American teenager who meets racial prejudices with composure and pride, unlike his hot-headed best friend Marcus. Witnessing a murder in 1920s rural Kansas drastically alters Newt’s life, forcing him to choose between coming forward to clear the man being framed for the crime or remaining silent. His choice threatens to shake the community to its core. Facing this difficult choice raises racial, personal, and emotional issues, forcing Newt to prematurely leap into adulthood. As the first major studio feature film led by an African-American director, The Learning Tree represents an intimate, previously marginalized view on this important historical moment.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments available for purchase at our concession stand.

Presented in collaboration with the Virginia Film Festival supported by the Library of Congress and The Fralin Museum of Art.


Dark Girls

D. Channsin Berry (Director), Bill Duke (Director)
2011 running time 75 minutes

Film and conversation
Saturday November 15, 2014
| 5:30 pm
Conversation with Heritage Center summer interns led by Eboni Bugg, Community Programs Director, The Women’s initiative

Dark Girls is a fascinating and controversial documentary film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe. Women share their personal stories, touching on deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes of society, while allowing generations to heal as they learn to love themselves for who they are.

This event is free and open to the public. It is brought to you through the generous support of Blue Moon Fund.


November 20, 2014 | 6 pm


Lecture and book signing
God’s Acre: Protecting African American Cemeteries

Lynn Rainville
Director Tusclum Institute, Sweet Briar College

Hidden Histories: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia
About the Book >

In Hidden History, Lynn Rainville travels through the forgotten African American cemeteries of central Virginia to recover information crucial to the stories of the black families who lived and worked there for over two hundred years. The subjects of Rainville’s research are not statesmen or plantation elites; they are hidden residents, people who are typically underrepresented in historical research but whose stories are essential for a complete understanding of our national past.

Rainville studied above-ground funerary remains in over 150 historic African American cemeteries to provide an overview of mortuary and funerary practices from the late eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth. Combining historical, anthropological, and archaeological perspectives, she analyzes documents—such as wills, obituaries, and letters—as well as gravestones and graveside offerings. Rainville’s findings shed light on family genealogies, the rise and fall of segregation, and attitudes toward religion and death. As many of these cemeteries are either endangered or already destroyed, the book includes a discussion on the challenges of preservation and how the reader may visit, and help preserve, these valuable cultural assets.

Lynn Rainville earned her Ph.D. in Near Eastern anthropology and archaeology in 2001. For the past 13 years she has taught and worked at Sweet Briar College and dedicated most of her time to studying historic African American cemeteries and enslaved communities on antebellum plantations, including 200-years of African-American history at Sweet Briar. In 2008 she was appointed a research professor in the humanities at Sweet Briar College where she is the founding director of the Tusculum Institute dedicated to local history and historic preservation.

This lecture and book signing is made possible through the generous support of the Blue Moon Fund.

the black candle film poster

The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration

Saturday  December 27 | 3pm

The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration

M. K. Asante, Jr., Director
2008, run time 71 minutes

Join us as we screen the first feature film on Kwanzaa.

Discussion to follow film.

Kwanzaa was created in the mid-1960s by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chair and professor of African Studies at California State University. The term Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. This is a time when people of African ancestry celebrate their heritage. The colors of Kwanzaa are red, black and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle.

The seven principles (Nguzo Saba) are values of African culture, which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African Americans. The principles of Kwanzaa are:

• Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

• Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

• Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.

• Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

• Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

• Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

• Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

This event is free and open to the public.