Tracing Suffolk’s African-American heritage

Published 10:50 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

Suffolk Division of Tourism is partnering with Suffolk Public Library and the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society to host community meetups Tuesday and Wednesday to gather information for the new Suffolk African-American Heritage Trail initiative.

The Tuesday session will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Morgan Memorial Library, 443 W. Washington St., and the Wednesday session will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. Both sessions free to attend and open to the public.

The first phase of this initiative is to conduct meetups or “listening sessions” to gather stories, photographs and other historical information from Suffolk residents. Participants are asked to bring stories and photos about area landmarks, people and historic events.

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The goal is to create a self-guided tour through Suffolk’s African-American heritage, “discovering the people and places that played such a valuable role in the establishment and evolution of the community,” according to Tourism Development Manager Theresa Earles.

“Sessions will be held in the lobbies of each library where we will chat with residents, record their information and categorize accordingly while tracking all submissions by geographical origin,” Earles wrote in an email.

Currently, existing knowledge of Suffolk’s African-American history is based primarily off of the “Celebration of History” book and other publications, Earles wrote.

“We want to find the more personal stories of neighborhoods, churches, schools, community centers and family connections – the heritage of Suffolk that expands beyond just traditional dates and times,” she wrote.

Go online to or call 514-4130 for more information.