Loudoun Freedom Center

Loudoun Freedom Center


Black History Month is a time for us to amplify the contributions of our ancestors and visit the places that have not been highlighted in the mainstream.

The African American Enslaved Burial Ground located in Ashburn, VA is the final resting place for those that toiled the grounds of the Belmont Plantation that was owned by the Lee Family.

As I walked thru this memorial I thanked them for their sacrifice and strength to overcome the many obstacles that they encountered.

MUNCH TIP: The burial ground is little tricky to get too. So make sure you pay attention when your driving or you will miss it.

cc: Visit Loudon County Loudoun Freedom Center
Congratulations to Loudoun Freedom Center & Microsoft as they announce a new partnership to provide education, certification and job training opportunities that will establish a pipeline of IT professionals from Northern Virginia’s underrepresented communities! 👏
Thank you NAACP Loudoun Branch, Pastor Michelle C. Thomas, and Loudoun Freedom Center for hosting a celebration for our community. It was an honor to join you!
Honored to spend this morning with NAACP Loudoun Branch , Loudoun Freedom Center, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, Delegate Suhas Subramanyam, Mark Herring, and Pastor Michelle Thomas. Wishing everyone a day of community and celebration.
I joined the Loudoun Freedom Center and NAACP Loudoun Branch today for a Juneteenth celebration.

At a time when hard-fought for liberties like the right to vote are under attack, we must stand up and continue the fight for true equity and justice.
Thank you to the Loudoun Freedom Center and NAACP Loudoun Branch for hosting a moving and empowering march this morning.
This Juneteenth marks 156 years since enslaved African Americans in Galveston, TX were informed of their freedom—2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.Today, we take a moment to reflect on our history and acknowledge the road ahead.

It was a pleasure to be with NAACP Loudoun Branch, Loudoun Freedom Center, and Pastor Michelle Thomas. I hope you have a day full of celebration, community, and action. Let’s go forward together, working toward a more equitable world.
From the Inalienable Rights to the Inalienable Challenge:
America’s Pursuit of the Fulfillment of Freedom: A Guidebook for Leadership”
By Dr. George P. Banks
This book is available at the following Amazon Book Link:

“With Effectiveness we defeat racism:”
A companion Guide to: From the Inalienable Rights
to the Inalienable Challenge
By: Dr. George P. Banks
This Guide is available at the following Amazon Book Link:
This Thursday, the Loudoun Freedom Center, Loudoun County government, Preservation Virginia and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources are partnering to host a webinar on preserving African American cemeteries. With a focus on efforts in Loudoun County, Pastor Michelle Thomas will be discussing her work rediscovering and preserving the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont and the formation of the Loudoun Freedom Center. Register online for this free event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eONXwiTxTImSqd2g1s6zrg
Help! I can't find this place! I saw 2 signs but no entrance. I'd like to visit today, even if I have to stay in my car. My phone GPS was no good, neither is the web directions. 😟
Help! I can't find the Belmont cemetery! I have been circling around Belmont to no success!

The organization’s mission is to eliminate injustice and engender hope, understanding and reconciliation through STEM research and historical preservation


In his 1956 autobiography, titled I Wonder as I Wander, Langston Hughes vividly recalled being invited by Mary Bethune to give a reading at Bethune-Cookman College in 1929.

After the event, Bethune hitched a ride with the young poet back to New York City. In the time of Jim Crow, where Black travelers were required to carry an Automobile Blue Book that listed the way stops in which African Americans were allowed to stop for meals, restrooms, or for sleeping accommodations, Hughes noted that Bethune avoided much of the indignity of segregated facilities along the long road to New York. He said, “Colored people along the eastern seaboard spread a feast and opened their homes wherever Mrs. Bethune passed their way.” In fact, he continued, “chickens, sensing that she was coming, went flying off frantically seeking a hiding place. They knew a heaping platter of southern fried chicken would be made in her honor.”

Such popularity followed Bethune through much of her 60 years of public service. During that time, she wore many hats including educator, community organizer, public policy advisor, public health advocate, advisor to the President of the United States, patriot, and of course mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. All in the service of her relentless pursuit of what she called “unalienable rights of the citizenship for Black Americans.”

Mary McLeod Bethune was born in 1875, number 15 of 17 children of former slaves, during the genesis of Jim Crow and the anti-Black violence that would ultimately plague the South for the duration of her life.

By the time of her birth, Patsy and Samuel McLeod owned a small farm near Mayesville, South Carolina. Deeply religious, they encouraged their curious daughter to attend a mission school where she thrived. The young Mary McLeod became so enthralled with learning that she won a scholarship to continue her studies at Scotia Seminary for Negro Girls in Concord, North Carolina, and spent one year at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. It was during her time at Scotia and Moody that she developed her philosophy of “female uplift” and her passion for educating girls for leadership in their communities.

In 1898, Mary McLeod married Albertus Bethune and had one son, Albert, in 1899. Her marriage to Albertus was a tumultuous nine years. The family moved from Savannah, Georgia to Palatka, Florida, where she worked in a small mission school. In 1904, the family moved again to Daytona, Florida, where she founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls.

A few short years later in 1907, her marriage ended when Albertus abandoned the family and returned to South Carolina. Although they never divorced, Bethune listed herself as a widow in the 1910 census. However, her estranged husband did not die until 1918.

In 1923, Bethune successfully negotiated the merger of her school in Daytona with the Cookman Institute in Jacksonville, Florida. Together, they created the coeducational four year Bethune-Cookman College.

By the time of the merger, she was already a highly respected leader in Black education and among Black women’s clubs. In addition to her school, Bethune worked with the Florida Federation of Colored Women’s clubs to found a home for delinquent Black girls in Ocala, Florida.

She served as president of the Southeastern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs (1920-25), the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools (1923-24), and she also served as president of the National Association of Colored Women (1924-1928.) Her work on local, regional, and national boards elevated her status as a leader of the Black community. By 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women all while continuing to serve as President of Bethune-Cookman College.

Her work with the college, national organizations, and her involvement in political advocacy led to an invitation from President Herbert Hoover to attend a White House conference in 1930. Bethune capitalized on the invitation and left the conference a leading advocate and voice for African Americans in the United States.

During the depths of the Great Depression and the hope of the New Deal, Bethune changed her political party from Republican to Democrat, and whole-heartedly committed herself to the betterment of life for African Americans. In 1931, Bethune was listed tenth on a list of the most outstanding living American women. She used her platform to push an agenda for racial and gender inclusion and championed conventional family life for racial uplift.

Bethune was introduced to the Roosevelts in 1927 and later supported their run for the Presidency. The close friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in gaining regular access to the President. In 1936, President Roosevelt tasked her to join the National Youth Administration and by 1939 she became the Director of Negro Affairs. As Director, Bethune was the highest paid African American in government at the time—with a $5,000 salary. Under her guidance as Director, NYA employed hundreds of thousands of young African American men and women and established a “Negro College and Graduate Fund” that supported over 4,000 students in higher education.

Mary McLeod Bethune, Director of NYA Negro Affairs, 1943. Image from Library of Congress, 2017843211.

Her work with the Roosevelt administration continued when she established and led the informal “Black Cabinet.” The term was coined by Bethune in 1936 and frequently used to describe President Roosevelt’s advisors on issues facing Black communities around the country. The Black Cabinet worked on lynching legislation, attempts to ban poll taxes in the South, welfare, and they worked with New Deal agencies to create jobs for unemployed African Americans.

The cabinet also helped draft the presidential executive orders that ended exclusion of African Americans in armed forces and defense industries during World War II. The influence of the Black Cabinet grew from the unprecedented access of Mary McLeod Bethune to the President and the first lady. The work of the cabinet ultimately laid the political foundation of what would become the modern civil rights movement.

During World War II, she was active in mobilizing support for the war effort among African Americans. She publicly argued for equal opportunity in defense-industry manufacturing and in the armed forces. In a 1941 speech, she eloquently embodied the sentiment of equality:

“Despite the attitude of some employers in refusing to hire Negros to perform needed, skilled services, and despite the denial of the same opportunities and courtesies to our youth in the armed forces of our country, we must not fail America and as Americans, we must not let America fail us.”

She led war bond drives, blood donation drives, and encouraged African American women to staff the canteens that dotted the country. Bethune also served as a special assistant to the Secretary of War for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. In the role as Special Assistant, she was responsible for helping establish a training school and recruiting Black women for army officer training.

Bethune was named honorary General of the Women’s Army for National Defense. After the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was converted to active duty status in July 1943, she also served as an advisor for the new Women’s Army Corps. As an advisor to the WAC and WAND, she successfully lobbied President Roosevelt to end segregation in veteran rehabilitation centers and frequently briefed the President on instances of violence against Black service members in the South.

Bethune remained a close advisor to the President until his death. She attended his second, third, and fourth inaugurations, and was delivering a speech in Dallas, Texas, when the news of Roosevelt’s death was announced on April 12, 1945. She immediately flew back to Washington and participated in a nation-wide radio broadcast celebrating President Roosevelt.

After the war, Bethune served as an associate consultant to the US delegation to help draft the United Nations charter. During the negotiations, she focused her efforts on the rights of people living in colonized countries around the world. She left the conference with a deep sense of disappointment, as she did not get the concessions of freedom, human rights, and self-determination that she so deeply desired.

In 1949, she was invited to Haiti to receive the highest Hattian civilian honor, the “Medal of Honor and Merit.” She also traveled to Liberia, as a representative of President Truman, where she received the “Commander of the Order of the Star of Africa,” Liberia’s highest medal. Over the course of her life, she received 11 honorary degrees from Black and white colleges—including Rollins College, where she was the first African American to receive such an honor in the entire South.

Her legacy continued after her death in May 1955. She was the first Black woman to have a national monument dedicated to her in the nation’s capital. Schools, public parks, and streets have been named in her honor. Her greatest legacy remains Bethune-Cookman University, one of the top 50 historically Black colleges and universities in the country.

Historian Audrey Thomas McCluskey summed it up best when she wrote: “Despite the numerous instances of racism shown toward her, and even unsubstantiated charges that she was a Communist sympathizer, Bethune maintained her belief in America.” She possessed unwavering patriotism, a strong sense of racial pride, and even walked with a cane that had once belonged to her friend, President Franklin Roosevelt. McCluskey continued, “She lived almost 80 years, a lifetime that reached from the post-Reconstruction era to the dawn of the modern civil rights movement.”

In her last will and testament from 1955, Dr. Bethune wrote:

“I leave you hope. The Negro’s growth will be great in the years to come. Yesterday our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they retained their dignity. Today, we direct our strength toward winning a more abundant and secure life. Tomorrow, a new Negro, unhindered by race taboos and shackles, will benefit from more than 330 years of ceaseless struggle. Theirs will be a better world. This I believe with all my heart.”

Mary McLeod Bethune

Sources and Recommended Reading:

McCluskey, Audrey Thomas and Elaine M. Smith. Mary McLeod Bethune: Building a Better World. Indiana University Press, 1999.

Long, Nancy Ann Zrinyi. Mary McLeod Bethune: Her Life and Legacy. Florida Historical Society Press, 2019.

Robertson, Dr. Ashley N. Mary McLeod Bethune in Florida: Bringing Social Justice to the Sunshine State. The History Press, 2015.

Enslaved to a Founding Father, She Sought Freedom in France 03/14/2022

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Enslaved to a Founding Father, She Sought Freedom in France Brought from America to Paris by John Jay, an enslaved woman named Abigail died there trying to win her liberty as the statesman negotiated the freedom of the new nation.

The Staten Island House Where Black History Lives 03/12/2022

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The Staten Island House Where Black History Lives A 90-year-old former schoolteacher’s collection includes Muhammad Ali’s boxing shoes and Tuskegee Airmen headgear — but it also features Ku Klux Klan toys.

Historical Trauma Among African Americans, Radical Healing, and Resilience Pt. 2 03/11/2022

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Historical Trauma Among African Americans, Radical Healing, and Resilience Pt. 2 The second podcast of this three-part series Historical Trauma Among African Americans, Radical Healing, and Resilience focuses on a trauma-informed approach and how white allies and others working in

Smithsonian unveils stunning collection of 120 statues honoring women in STEM 03/05/2022

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Black History Town Hall


Yesterday, Chief of Police Gregory C. Brown was awarded a 2022 Black History Month Excellence in Law Enforcement Award at the Saint Elizabeth University Police Studies Institute’s Black History Month: Excellence in Law Enforcement Virtual Awards Ceremony. Congratulations Chief!

Photos from Loudoun Art Tours's post 02/22/2022

Photos from Loudoun Art Tours's post

NOVA Parks to unveil signs about Jim Crow laws on W&OD Railway Trail 02/18/2022

NOVA Parks to unveil signs about Jim Crow laws on W&OD Railway Trail

Preserving, Protecting and Promoting Black History Matters. Hope To See You There!

NOVA Parks to unveil signs about Jim Crow laws on W&OD Railway Trail NOVA Parks will unveil on Saturday a new interpretive sign about how Jim Crow laws affected passengers taking the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) train line in the 1900s, according


Welcome To Black History Month.
On Feb. 7, 1926, Carter G. Woodson, initiated the first celebration of Negro History Week which led to Black History Month, to extend and deepen the study and scholarship on African American history, all year long. Black History is American History, Learn It, Live It, Make It 365 A Year! ❤️


“Up Next: Your Books, Your History”

First they came for black books and books about slavery And I did not protest or speak out
Because I was not “Black”

Then they came for the Transgender and LGBTQ books And I did not protest speak out
Because I was not a LGBTQ

Then they came for books about the Holocaust And I did not speak out Because I was not Jewish

Then they came for my books, And there was no one left to speak out for me….


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NoVA DCA 2022 Winter Cohort Update:
2 weeks of class completed and our inaugural cohort of 50 Microsoft Scholars is thriving and going strong! 11 weeks and 2 completed certs to go! Special Thanks to our amazing adjunct professors Adrian Thomas, Jibreel Martínez-Jaka and our Dream Team Administrative Staff & Counselors!

The poet Maya Angelou is the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter 01/12/2022

The poet Maya Angelou is the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.

The poet Maya Angelou is the first Black woman to be featured on a U.S. quarter The Maya Angelou design is the first quarter in the "American Women Quarters Program" — a four-year program that will feature prominent women in U.S. history.

Journalist Ida B. Wells is commemorated with a Barbie doll for fearless activism 01/12/2022

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Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Journalist Ida B. Wells is commemorated with a Barbie doll for fearless activism Wells was a writer and anti-lynching campaigner who edited and co-owned the Memphis Free Speech. Other role models the toy company has honored include Rosa Parks, Sally Ride and Maya Angelou.


A New Direction For the New Year: The Loudoun Freedom Center Names Mrs. Robin Burke As Interim Executive Director!

“We are thrilled to continue to move the Loudoun Freedom Center along a positive trajectory of community success, Founding President Pastor Michelle C. Thomas said. “Ron Campbell our previous executive director contributed significantly to the depth and breadth of the Loudoun Freedom Center and its offerings during his tenure. Now, with strong academic partners, energized volunteers and key staff in place, Mrs. Burke’s distinct skill sets will complement the team, and her vision and background in community outreach and fundraising will ensure that we move to another level of excellence under her leadership.”

Meet Our New Executive Director: Robin Reaves Burke is the owner of B3 Holdings, LLC. Prior to becoming a small business owner, she served as the Chief of Staff of Healthcare Technology for AT&T. Mrs. Burke is recognized as a senior level executive and innovative leader with technical sales and marketing experience, areas of focus include business development and operations, technical deployment & implementation, and sales engineering with a key interest in customer satisfaction. Mrs. Burke is a Bricks 4 Kidz and Bricks 4 Biz franchise owner. She attended Howard University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.

Mrs. Burke is an active community organizer and advocate for all people. Currently she serves in the following capacities as the Vice President of the NAACP Loudoun Branch, Governor Ralph Northam appointee to serve on the COVID-19 Long Term Care Task Force, Loudoun County Board Of Supervisors Re-naming Route 7 & Route 50 Task Force and Loudoun County Public Schools’ Equity Committee. Mrs. Burke is a member of The Freedom Technology Group, The Loudoun County Virginia Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and serves on the Executive Board of the Loudoun County Chapter of The Girl Friends, Inc. Robin Burke lives in Ashburn, Virginia with her husband Steven and their son Clinton.

Videos (show all)

NoVA Data Center Academy Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
NoVA Data Center Academy Ribbon Cutting Ceremony @ Press Conference


Historical Preservation
Slave Cemeteries &
African American Communities
STEM Education
Classes, Conferences, Symposiums for Adults and Youth
Group Counseling and Advocacy
Inner healing for issues related to social racial & gender injustice, community reconciliation
DNA Genome Project
Science connecting the past with the present
Visitors Center
Museum, Interactive Maps, Displays
Loudoun Freedom Chapel



Lansdowne, VA

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