African American Experience of Northeast North Carolina Celebrates Juneteenth Launch

Six-County Collaboration Inspires Exploration and Appreciation of Dozens Of Sites


(June 18, 2021) – The African American Experience of Northeast North Carolina (AAENENC)
will officially launch this Juneteenth (Saturday, June 19, 2021) encouraging a deeper
understanding and recognition for the contributions of the Black community in one of America’s
most history-rich corridors. The new self-guided discovery starts online at and connects dozens of visitable points of interest and African
American influence across a six-county region that includes the islands of The Outer Banks,
legendary Dismal Swamp and some of the state’s earliest riverfront communities of Elizabeth
City, Hertford and Edenton.
The AAENENC is a collaborative effort that has been developed, funded and facilitated by the
tourism departments from the six participating counties of Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank,
Camden, Currituck and Dare and is driven with valuable insights from an advisory committee
comprised of regional civic leaders, community members, educators and historians.  Tameron
Kugler, Director of Currituck Travel and Tourism, sees an opportunity to help build more
inclusive communities through a greater public appreciation of these African American
touchstones while creating economic benefit. “We are so excited to share this new adventure
and expect to add more sites and more counties to our trail every year.  We will also be working
on collecting and preserving written and oral histories that we will be able to share on the
AAENENC website.”
Visitors to the tour can experience the lesser-known histories of popular tourism destinations
that are now being given a new platform to enjoy both in-person and online. From the ornate
craftsmanship of the historic Black neighborhood of East Gale Street in Edenton to the Colored
Union Soldiers Monument in Hertford, one of the few such statues in the nation, to the Dismal
Swamp Canal, hand dug by enslaved labor over 12 back breaking years in the late 1700s, the
impact of the African American legacy in this part of the state is evidenced at every turn. The
Pasquotank River flows through Elizabeth City and once was a gateway to freedom for
enslaved peoples as part of what we now know as the National Underground Railroad Network
to Freedom, as was nearby Roanoke Island in Dare County as home to one of the first
Freedman’s Colonies in the South during the American Civil War. The Benjamin Bowser
Gravesite in Currituck County pays fitting tribute to one of the leaders of the all-Black Pea
Island Lifesaving Station crew, the only such pre- U.S. Coast Guard base in the nation.
To help bring the to life, the six-county partnership sought the
assistance of North Carolina-based BRANDilly Creative Group, a Black-owned business with a
portfolio of startups and grassroots branding clients. President and CEO Kemah E. P.
Washington, Ed.D. and his team transformed all the histories and themes of the different time
periods into a user-friendly planning tool to help travelers experience the trail both virtually and
in-person. “Working with the NC Black Heritage Tour has been an absolute pleasure. It’s been
a best of both worlds scenario for us. Not only did we have a chance to flex our creative
muscles, but as a Black-owned agency, we were a part of an initiative centered on
telling our story. Innovation. Determination. Perseverance. The resiliency of our ancestors — as
featured in the project — continue to play out in the lives of African-Americans in our state and

Juneteenth celebrations at some of the African American Experience of Northeast North
Carolina tour sites include an 11 a.m. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Camden County
Heritage Museum and Historic Jail; a 12 p.m. special vocal performance program at the Historic
Jarvisburg Colored School in Currituck County by Dr. Walter Swan, Associate Professor of
Visual and Performing Arts at Elizabeth City State University; and a 5 p.m. Sounds of Freedom
performance with Tshombe Selby at the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum in Manteo. To share
your experiences along the trail and stay up to date with current events, the public is invited to
join the discovery of the AAENENC on Instagram @NCBlackHeritageTour and
Media contact: Martin Armes Communications 919.608.7260

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