African American Heritage Tours and History

Before the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, New Bern’s African American families led educational, business, and religious communities.  

This region has a rich history of never-enslaved people who were joined by others fleeing or freed from slavery.  Together they educated their children, cultivated their lands, and built their communities into the time of reconstruction.  

From that period, through continued segregation and discrimination, two world wars, the Great Depression, and into the later twentieth century, New Bern’s African Americans struggled, endured, and prospered.

Today, the stories of New Bern’s African Americans speak of a shared heritage with all who have settled in Eastern North Carolina.

man holding American flag at black history celebration

Self Guided Tours

African American Heritage Trail Guide

African American Heritage Tour

Guided Tours

Discover Tryon Palace: Life on the Lesser Stairs

The Crockett-Miller Slave Quarters Tour

Education for The Future

Following Emancipation, the Freedmen’s Bureau united with White charities and Northern missionary societies to be the first to tackle the problem of widespread Black illiteracy; due to North Carolina’s educational policies, however, they were impeded in their efforts. Black New Bernians responded by creating new institutions led by Black administrators and Black educators. These schools reflected the common experience and shared values of the African American community. Click here for more information. 

Five Points District

The intersection of Neuse, Broad, Roundtree, and Queen streets — known locally as Five Points — is recognized as New Bern’s historic Western gateway. From barbers to grocers, realtors to beauticians, and landlords to retailers, the commercial area of Five Points witnessed significant growth after WWII and again after the establishment of the Craven Terrace public housing project. Click here for more information. 

Queen Street

At the turn of the twentieth century, Queen Street was recognized as an unspoken dividing line between the town’s Black and White communities. The corridor from Five Points to the Neuse River was filled with homes, tenement houses, grocery stores, churches, shops, the Dixie Theatre, and New Bern’s first Black-owned hotel, the Rhone Hotel – almost all catering to the Black community. Click here for more information. 

Resources

Click our partner logos below for more information.

tryon palace logo
African American Heritage &Culture Center
new bern historical society new bern historical society logo

Blogs

Click the logos below to read what others have written about our African American History.

tryon palace logo
African American Heritage &Culture Center