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8 places to see Black history in Raleigh

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.

February is Black History Month, and we’re sharing a self-guided tour to Raleigh landmarks of notable Black residents and history-making institutions.

Estey Hall at Shaw University

๐Ÿ“ 118 E South St., Raleigh.

Estey Hall, Shaw University, c. 1873. From the General Negative Collection, North Carolina State Archives.

Estey Hall was the first building constructed in the U.S. for the education of Black women, at Shaw University, built in the 1870s. [more history]

Shaw is also the oldest HBCU in the South, opened in 1865. The university maintains impressive archives and helped establish other historically Black colleges and universities, including North Carolina A&T State University. [Our State magazine feature]

Notable alumni include activist Ella Baker and Dr. Manassa T. Pope (more on both, below) singer Shirley Caesar and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

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Pope House Museum

๐Ÿ“511 S. Wilmington Street, Raleigh.

Downtown Raleigh holds the only African-American house museum in the state. Dr. Manassa T. Pope was a prominent physician, politician (he ran for mayor) and Shaw University graduate. He and his family lived in the house beginning in 1901. Read more about the family here.

Beginning Saturday, there will be a new exhibit in the museum, “A Family Story: Images of the Pope House Museum.” Tours are available at 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays only by appointment. Call 919-996-2220. [website]

Ella Baker murals

Ella Josephine Baker is an unsung hero of the civil rights and racial justice movement in the 1960s and beyond. While she worked with well-known names such as Martin Luther King, Jr., her legacy includes registering voters and leading young activists to push for change through nonviolent direct action. Sheโ€™s a Shaw University graduate (and the 1927 valedictorian). This mural, by William Paul Thomas, is at Trophy Brewing on Morgan Street.

๐Ÿ“ Behind Trophy Tap and Pizza, 827 W. Morgan Street (pictured)
๐Ÿ“ Alongside Shaw University, on South Blount Street.

Ella Baker, a Shaw graduate and civil rights leader, founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (better known as SNCC), here in Raleigh at Shaw University in 1960.

“The group helped organize sit-ins, the freedom rides, the 1963 March on Washington, and the Mississippi Freedom Summer,” according to her bio on the Shaw website.

The late Congressman John Lewis was chairman of the SNCC from 1963-1966 and had this to say about the activist: “She was so progressive, so radical, so militant, and demanded action. If it werenโ€™t for Ella Baker, many of the young people that got involved with the movement wouldnโ€™t have been involved.”

Anna Julia Cooper historic marker

๐Ÿ“ Historic Marker: Edenton Street at East Street, Raleigh.[details]
๐Ÿ“ Gravesite: Raleigh City Cemetery, 17 S. East Street, Raleigh.

Anna Julia Cooper was a Black feminist activist, author, scholar and educator who was born in Raleigh and graduated from what is now Saint Augustine’s University.

Her book “A Voice from the South” was an early work of Black feminism published in 1892. “Her analysis of racism, sexism and subjugation of black women would echo into the black feminist movements of the 20th century,” the state department of natural and cultural resources site says.

The United States passport also bears her words: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a classโ€”it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

She was born enslaved in 1858. She became the fourth African American woman to receive her PhD. She lived to be 105 and was buried at Raleigh City Cemetery.

MORE BLACK HISTORY TOURS: Learn about Southeast Raleigh in our tour from New Neighbor Ambassador Troy Johnson

Saint Agnes Hospital

๐Ÿ“ 1315 Oakwood Ave., Saint Augustine’s University, Raleigh

๐Ÿ“ธ: @leslieshoots

Saint Agnes Hospital provided care to Black patients and trained Black nurses for 65 years. Known for its quality standards, it drew patients from across the Southeast.

Saint Agnes Hospital, which operated from 1896 -1961, served anyone who showed up at their door, regardless of economic situation or race, would be served. Learn more about the public art project to commemorate Saint Agnes.

While you can’t go inside, the exterior of the building is visible from outside the gates.

MORE SOUTHEAST RALEIGH HISTORY: Get the New Neighbor guides for more history, delivered to your inbox!

Oberlin Village

๐Ÿ“ Oberlin Road between Mayview Road and Bedford Avenue

One of two remaining villages established by Black people during Reconstruction (read more at WRAL), Oberlin Village is near the Village District (recently renamed from Cameron Village, dropping the name of the plantation owner) on Oberlin Road.

This self-guided tour from the Raleigh Historic Development Commission takes you by some of the landmarks of Oberlin Village: Wilson Temple United Methodist Church, Plummer T. Hall House, Willis Graves House, James S. Morgan House, John T. and Mary Turner House, Oberlin Cemetery and Latta House and University Site (which will be developed into a park).

What notable Black history monuments are on your list? Email editor@raleighconvergence.com.

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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