Updated: Nov 3, 2021
DISCLAIMER: In an effort to shed light on a lens that I travel everywhere with, I decided that it was important for me to explicitly talk about My Black American Traveler Experience. I want to stress that everyone has their own experiences and biases traveling to any country. Therefore, my experience may not be your own. In specifying the Black American identity, I acknowledge that while there are some commonalities in experiences as Black people, there is also a privilege that comes with being an American. I am supplementing my thoughts and experience with a context on demographics as I think that it is important in order to paint the whole picture!
Is Alexandria, VA diverse?
What is the racial makeup of Alexandria Virginia?
Table of Contents
What I Expected
I am not sure what I expected -- I know a few Instagrammers of color who either live or visit there frequently. The photos that I had seen of Alexandria made me think it would be fairly white. I personally do not know anyone who has traveled there. Basically, I had no idea what to expect in terms of people. However, I just knew that there was good food, cute neighborhoods, and a rich history . As a result, I went to Alexandria hoping for the best in terms of my Black American experience. Right before traveling to Alexandria, I saw a Travel Noire article which mentioned that Alexandria is ranked fourth in regards to the best cities for Black women.
It was Diverse AF and I loved it!!!
A. Treatment & Safety
As a Black person, I felt like I was home -- very few cities can match New York City’s level of diversity. Considering how small Alexandria is, I was surprised by the various people of color I came across on my trip, especially along King Street. For example, at the park square, the live band performing was representative of a diverse group -- white, Black, Latino. The crowds watching were also super mixed. During happy hour, I saw Black women wearing hijabs living their best lives celebrating a birthday and I was here for it! Hospitality is top notch. For example, most places would engage us in longer conversations than I would ever have in a NYC restaurant.
In terms of language, it was easy to get around because everyone spoke English.
C. Vibe & Culture
It’s a nice vibe. I will admit that I was more focused on experiencing history rather than the Black culture, so I cannot comment too much. However, the glimpse I got was a good one! I want to go back to experience more of the nightlife.
I felt visible. I did not feel out of place. I know I feel seen when I stop paying attention to how many Black people or people of color I see in a city. Whether it was walking the sidewalks, eating at a restaurant, or visiting a museum, I constantly saw a diversity of people from various racial and ethnic groups -- not just Black or White.
Black Stats in Alexandria, VA:
Non-Hispanic Blacks make up about 22% of the population, which is the largest non-White population followed by Hispanics at 17%. Meanwhile, 62% are white and nearly 6% are Asian
Alexandria is the most diverse city in Virginia.
Alexandria is on the list for Top 25 Most Diverse Cities List, even ranking above Washington, DC
The city of Alexandria has a foreign-born population of 42,441, which represents 28 percent of the city's population.
There is a “Little Ethiopia” in Alexandria that has spread from DC and extends west towards the Skyline area of Fairfax County. For example, there is a large apartment complex called Southern Towers, that is 40% Ethiopian.
Overall: My experiences overall in Alexandria, especially Black Alexandria, made me fall in love with the city as a whole!
What is Alexandria’s connection to the "Black Experience?"
When did African Americans come to Alexandria?
What is Alexandria's Black history?
✊🏾 A self-taught mathematician who mapped out the nation’s capital.
✊🏾 Abolitionist sisters who partnered with Frederick Douglass
✊🏾 The first Black player in the NBA.
What do these have in common? They are all African American changemakers who have shaped the history of Alexandria, VA and the United States.
Alexandria, being a southern town with northern values near the nation’s capital, makes it a prime location to shape Black history. It was a refuge for Blacks escaping slavery since the city was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War.
Alexandria’s African American history includes a vibrant free black population dating back to the 18th century, one of the largest slave trading operations, and America's first Sit-Down Strike in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.
WOW! Who knew!?!
During my time in Alexandria, I sought some of this Black history out, as should you!
How can I spend a day in Black Alexandria?
Here is a day-long itinerary that can help you experience Alexandria Black Travel by experiencing #blackownedbusinesses:
WAYS TO EXPERIENCE BLACK ALEXANDRIA
Grab breakfast at Cafe Du Soleil: This is a laid-back, Black-Owned spot serving French-inspired breakfast/brunch items I LOVED their Chai Latte. I also really enjoyed their Croque Madame and sweet crepes.
Swing by Shiloh Baptist Church: Slaves, along with captured Confederate soldiers, were housed in an old slave pen where 𝙎𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙤𝙝 𝘽𝙖𝙥𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝘾𝙝𝙪𝙧𝙘𝙝 (SEEN HERE) was founded on March 29, 1863. It started when 50 former slaves gathered in a U.S. government hall to worship and praise God.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon: You can experience and learn about Mount Vernon completely through the lens of slavery. For example there is a Slave Memorial that pays homage to those who were enslaved on this estate. There is also an “Enslaved People of Mount Vernon” tour and a museum exhibit where you will learn facts such as that George Washington became a slave owner at the early age of eleven and was an active slave owner for 56 years while remaining conflicted.
Take a Black Heritage Tour: Manumission Tour Company offers several Black Heritage tours that highlight Alexandria’s extensive African American History. You have an opportunity to walk the streets of historic Old Town Alexandria and hear the little-known stories of Africans and African-Americans, both enslaved and freemen, at a time when Alexandria, Virginia was one of early American's main centers for the international and domestic slave trade.
Grab delectable mussels at Augie’s Mussel House & Beer Garden, which is partially Black-owned. They are in a centrally located spot on King Street.