The “History of African American Communities in Princess Anne County Virginia Beach” video is based on a research paper by Ms. Edna Hawkins Hendrix (historian/author) and Dr. Joanne H. Lucas (educational consultant) funded by the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission. The video includes photos selected from the Edna Hendrix Collection and styled by Dr. Lucas to highlight the African-American communities in Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach (Beechwood, Burton Station, Doyletown, Gracetown, Great Neck, Lake Smith, Little Neck, L & J Gardens, New Light, Newsome Farm, Queen City, and Reedtown).
At the start of Reconstruction in 1865, most former slaves and free blacks lived on contraband farms. They were in need of education, shelter, food, clothing, tools, and jobs. From 1865 to 1872, the federal government utilized the Freedmen’s Bureau to provide this assistance. Unfortunately, “the bureau was prevented from fully carrying out its programs due to a shortage of funds and personnel, along with the politics of race and Reconstruction” (Freedmen’s Bureau, 2017). In 1877, federal troops withdrew from the South, Reconstruction ended, and blacks were on their own to manage their lives. Many former slaves and free Blacks worked as tenant farmers or sharecroppers to render wages. This offered some the opportunity to purchase land and begin the development of African-American communities in Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach, Virginia.