Efforts being made to preserve Almagro Black history in Danville

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:57 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Danville community members held a press conference Monday at the old Winslow Hospital to ask the city and state for help on preserving the Black history of the Almagro community.

Almagro was one of the first and only all-Black communities in America, dating to 1883.

The town had its own hospital, town hall and police department.

The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Danville and Vicinity is asking for recognition of the history within the Almagro neighborhood.

“I was born in this hospital and my family is at Oak Hill Cemetery, which is a historic cemetery. I also have family that was married into this area. So, I am very interested and concerned that this neighborhood should be preserved as a historic neighborhood, not only in Danville, but in the state of Virginia,” said Reverend Charlie Harris, Ministerial Alliance of Danville and Vicinity member.

They plan to have a meeting in the near future with the city and state for more historical markers, investment in education, parks, and health, and a restoration plan for Almagro.

“Once this history is lost and once the seniors pass off the scene, the oral history will be lost. Someone else may take up the pen and write the history from another perspective and we do not want that to happen to this community,” said Reverend William Keen, president of the Ministerial Alliance of Danville and Vicinity.

They also do not want future generations to forget about the past.

“I would challenge many of you who are here today and who hear my voice to go to Gibson School and ask the students about the history of this community and see how much of this history they are knowledgeable about,” added Reverend Keen. “That’s what we are concerned about is that the history is not lost.”

The Ministerial Alliance feels Almagro is not getting the attention it deserves.

“We need to be recognized because right now, all our neighborhoods have been neglected and not been cared for as the influential neighborhoods that have been kept up,” explained Reverend Keen. “Now that we’re getting a big casino in town, we have been neglected and left out of Danville, Virginia as a whole.”

The alliance hopes the old Winslow Hospital can one day become a volunteer healthcare facility to provide assistance for those in need.

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