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Westmoreland’s African American past

Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 11:11 am

A. T. Johnson Museum is doing what museums are designed to do.  It is engaging visitors, fostering deeper understandings and promoting the enjoyment and sharing of authentic cultural and natural heritage. The Museum continues to acquire, preserve, research, interpret and exhibit the tangible and intangible evidence of the impact of African American society in Westmoreland County.

Westmoreland County was separated from Northumberland County in 1653 some 34 years after the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1619. They were immediately enslaved and forced into servitude. Despite the conditions under which they were forced to endure, these persons of African descent have been contributing to making a better Westmoreland for 366 years. They cleared wooded areas. Harvested crops of which the benefits reaped were denied to them.  Reared children who did not belong or look like them.  Cared for properties where the front door was not open to them; cooked foods for families that dared them to partake of it; forged pathways and roads; and fought in conflicts and wars on domestic and international grounds, only to return to a home place that welcomed them with the same struggles, hardships, and injustices they left behind. They had to face the realization that the victories that had been won- were not for them.

A. T. Johnson Museum attempts to inform all who are willing to hear of not only the struggles but also the vision that our forefathers had of a better tomorrow.

In all of the 366 years 133,590 days there has not been the appropriate attention and appreciation for all of the struggles, of the pathways forged for us alone, of the sacrifices, the slaughtering of those early Westmorelanders of African descent – for them to become the beneficiaries of some levels of accomplishment.  Lest it be forgotten, it is only appropriate to memorialize their contributions, preserve their legacies and ensure that the paths that this county trods does not intertwine with the stoney roads where their Black ancestors trod.

A. T. Johnson Museum is unapologetically standing regal in its place in history. Waiting for YOU to stop by the “Living Black History Classroom” on Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. Share 20 minutes or so of time to document your story, and what footprint you will leave in history after these 400 years since Africans first put foot on these shores.

Submitted by Marian Veney Ashton,

Director A. T. Johnson Museum