Not many people know that Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist leader, has a connection to the Prince William area. In 1894, Douglass gave a speech in the area. For those who go to the Lucasville School on Feb. 10, they will have the opportunity to hear that speech and learn more about the life of Douglass.
The Lucasville School is a 19th- century, reconstructed, one-room schoolhouse that is normally open by appointment only, but it will be open every Saturday and Sunday in February in honor of Black History Month.
The Feb. 10 event is a celebration of the life and work of Frederick Douglass on the week of Douglass' 200th birthday. The speech is a passage from the "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," a firsthand perspective of what Douglass endured in his early life as a slave. Each family attending the event will receive a free copy of the book, courtesy of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative.
The event is free. Donations will be accepted.
The Ben Lomond Historic Site will also celebrate Black History Month with programs on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24. On Feb. 23, visitors can actually spend the night in the slave quarters on site. Historians and interpreters will be there to help people learn about the life of those who were living and working at Ben Lomond. The overnight stay is $75 per person and includes a light breakfast on Saturday morning. Reservations are required. Call 703-367-7872.
On Feb. 24, the program is "Everyday Full of Work: The African-American Experience at Ben Lomond." Visitors to the event will be able to tour the historic home and original slave quarters to learn about the enslaved population living at Ben Lomond in the years before the Civil War. Spaces not ordinarily open to the public will be open for exploration and visitors will be able to participate in hands-on activities to learn about some of the chores that enslaved men, women, and children, were compelled to complete, as well as the lives of the enslaved community. Tours are $5 per person. Children under six get in free.
Visit the Prince William County Historic Preservation webpage to see all the upcoming events at the county's historic properties.
The Prince William County Library System also has several events going on for Black History Month
Here are a few of the highlights, and a link to all of the events:
- Saturday, Feb.17 – Trickster Tales, presented by Barefoot Puppets at Chinn Park Regional Library at 11 a.m., is a high-energy, laugh-out-loud show that brings some of the Anansi the Spider traditional stories from West Africa to life. The event is first-come, first-served, for ages two and up until capacity is reached.
- Saturday, Feb. 24 – Sisters of the Zeta Phi Beta chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Sorority will share stories from black history and books by African-American authors at Potomac Community Library at 1 p.m. The event is open for all ages.
- Saturday, Feb. 24 – Freedom Quilt Craft at Potomac Community Library at 2 p.m. for kindergarteners through fifth graders. Learn about quilt squares that were used to guide people on the Underground Railroad. Participants will make a couple of squares with paper quilting, to take home, along with ideas to add to their own quilt craft.
Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge will also celebrate Black History Month throughout February. The Underground Railroad Network to Freedom at Leesylvania State Park will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in February. The property that became Leesylvania State Park had a part to play with the flight of two runaway slaves, as well as a slave who escaped captivity in 1848. In September 1861, during the Civil War, escaped slaves gave important information to Union soldiers about Confederate activity at Freestone Point. Drop by the visitor center to learn more about the park's rich and diverse history.