ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – Rich African American history is embedded in the roots of Franklin County.
Every year in August, hundreds gather for live music at the farmer’s market in Rocky Mount to celebrate Warren Street’s heritage.
The tradition started 21 years ago by Darlene Swain, the great great granddaughter of Steven Warren.
He was a former slave who moved to the street which became a hub for Black families and businesses.
“He owned that whole hill,” Swain said. “And the store Brooks and Company right up there in the front. They all owned the businesses all the way down the street.”
Swain said the American history books nix out Black history and their contributions.
So she decided to write it herself and became the co-founder of Warren Street Society.
“Our kids need to know it because when they integrated schools, and I’m not throwing off on nobody, but they did not teach the Black children their culture and their history,” she said.
About 15 miles away another landmark stands the home of Booker T Washington.
The iconic figure was born into slavery and reshaped education for the Black community.
“We are still experiencing the legacy of his work,” Booker T Washington Monument Supervisor Park Ranger Timothy Sims said. “The impact of history during the time of which he lived affects a lot of the educational and social issues that a lot of experience today firsthand.”
In July, park rangers are giving dozens of children the taste of Washington’s childhood, from managing the farm to getting a glimpse of the small cabin he once lived in.
“I think you don’t have to look very far to find that but there are opportunities available to learn more about the African American history in Franklin County,” Sims said.
The monument is open to the public year-round.
The Warren Street Festival will take place at the farmer’s market in Rocky Mount August 20 -21.