Black History in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Black History in Roanoke, VA

Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a region with amazing Black history and culture.

It’s a unique blend of people, organizations, and communities who played a major role in the growth and development of Roanoke and the surrounding region, as well as people with local connections to the area who were influential around the world.

Prominent figures of Black history in Virginia’s Blue Ridge include people like Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute and one of the most influential African American leaders in history. There’s also Oliver White Hill, a civil rights attorney whose work was part of the Brown v. Board of Education case that overturned segregation in public schools. Hill grew up on the same block as Edward R. Dudley, who would become the first Black Ambassador in United States history.

You can find all kinds of amazing information about Black history in the region by visiting locations such as the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and Booker T. Washington National Monument, or by taking part in the Self Guided Walking Tour of Historic Gainsboro.

To help you plan your visit, we recommend using our 3-day itinerary of Black history & culture of Virginia's Blue Ridge >

Black History Month Events in Roanoke, VA - February 2023

  • Grandin Theatre Black History Month Series: Boomerang - February 1
  • Virginia Children's Theatre: Lift Every Voice - Jefferson Center - February 3-4
  • A Time to Protest: Leadership Lessons from My Father Who Survived the Segregated South for 99 Years - Booker T. Washington National Monument - February 4
  • Our Story: Black History Month Exhibit - Franklin County Public Library - February 4-28
  • Soul Sessions Roanoke: Our Voice, Our Moments - Grandin Theatre - February 8
  • Industrial Training, Racial Understanding, & Agricultural Education: A Public History of the Booker T. Washington Memorial Birthplace - Booker T. Washington National Monument - February 11
  • Grandin Theatre Black History Month Series: In the Heat of the Night - February 12
  • Grandin Theatre Black History Month Series: The Wiz - February 15
  • Celebrating Gainsboro - Roanoke Higher Education Center - February 15
  • Kegley Lecture Series: Roanoke's Hidden Black History by Roanoke Vice Mayor Trish White Boyd - O. Winston Link Museum - February 28

A look back at the Black history of our region also requires us to acknowledge difficult and uncomfortable truths.

The Black History of Roanoke & Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a history with similarities to so many communities around the country. It’s a history that includes local men and women who would achieve remarkable things and create lasting change that would impact generations, and they did so while living with the difficulties of segregation and racism.

Black history is an integral part of the overall history and heritage of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and we invite you to experience it during a visit to the region. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and legacy of the past.

Historical Places to Visit

Visit the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, one of the most influential African American leaders in history.

This museum in Downtown Roanoke showcases and celebrates the art, history, and contributions of African Americans.

Take a self-guided walking tour of Roanoke's Historic Gainsboro community, which was a vibrant center of Black culture and commerce.

Learn More About Local Black History

Learn the stories of the incredible Black men and women from Virginia's Blue Ridge who will be remembered in history.

A special exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation about African American railroad workers.

Learn interesting things you didn't know about Booker T. Washington, who was born in Franklin County in Virginia's Blue Ridge.

Other History Experiences in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Get to know more about the rich history of Virginia's Blue Ridge by visiting the local sites and museums.

Plan a history-filled getaway and check off every location on this list of historical places of interest.

Explore the charming City of Salem with a self-guided walking tour that showcases the history of the community.

More Resources for a Visit

We have lots of helpful information and resources to help you make the most of a visit to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Take advantage of the pages below to help you plan your getaway.

A 3-day itinerary of Black history & culture in Virginia's Blue Ridge, showcasing local black-owned businesses and places of interest.

A guide to Black-owned businesses throughout the region, including restaurants, shops, and services.

Book a room at one of many amazing lodging options for your next visit to Virginia's Blue Ridge.