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.
Self Guided Tours
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.
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.
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