Outer Banks Freedmen’s Colony 152nd Anniversary Commemorated
One hundred and fifty-two years ago, thousands of African-American slaves risked punishment, family separation, and even their lives to reach the freedom waiting for them on Roanoke Island. The story of the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island has a rich heritage—colony descendants still reside on the island today.
On Thursday, May 14, 2015 the National Park Service will present special programs at 12:30, 2:00, and 3:30 p.m. to commemorate the establishment of the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony. These programs titled, “One Island, Many Stories!” will focus on the historical context leading up to the creation of the Freedmen’s Colony, life in the Colony from 1863-1867, and the lasting legacy of those who lived there.
Formally established on May 14, 1863, the Freedmen’s Colony became home to 3,500 former slaves—men, women, and children. It was the first community of its kind in North Carolina. At its height, the colony provided its residents with land to farm, schools to obtain an education, places to worship, and jobs to learn skills and earn a living.
The Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island was a very important first step on a journey for equality and freedom that still continues. It is for that reason that those Freedmen and their descendants, who remained here after closure of the colony in 1867, have called the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony the “First Light of Freedom.”