A small but extremely impactful museum in Alexandria holds the stories of over one million slaves that came through the Franklin & Armfield slave office, which was one of the most lucrative slave trading companies in the country, Audrey Davis told Great Day Washington.
“If you were a slave, coffled, walking down the duke street corridor in the 1800s you knew you where you were going. And you knew you were probably going to be separated from your family,” Davis said.
The Freedom House Museum is where this all took place. It's now a museum and building has been run by the Northern Virginia Urban League for the past ten years.
“It’s really important to remember all the progress we’ve made since then but not forget the time when it was a slave pen,” said Tracey Walker of the Northern Virginia Urban League. “Sometimes when I’ve had a taxing day I just come by and touch the building’s wall and I’m inspired and reinvigorated.”
1315 Duke street was a site of misery and sorrow but now it’s reclaimed itself as a site of dignity and justice for African Americans.
Only 15 people are allowed down in the museum at a time and as you come down the stairway you’ll see the names of the enslaved and how much they were sold for.
Once you’re in the basement there are actual bars remaining to keep slaves from escaping. There is also an interactive component for children and adults alike. You can touch, feel, and see the volume of cotton that was expected to be picked, by one slave, in one day. (It was equal to 133 pairs of jeans worth of cotton.)
Recently, the dissidents of the Armfield and Franklin families wanted to apologize for the actions of their ancestors. The families donated their silver spoons as an apology, they wanted show their support of the museum.
Visitors can take advantage of special tours of the museum during Black History Month, on Saturdays from 1pm – 5pm. Be sure to purchase your tickets online beforehand.
You can also you can donate to the Northern Virginia Urban League, here.