On May 24th, 2023 at 7pm at the historic Chapel of the Centurion at Fort Monroe, the Contraband Historical Society will bring together local “Contraband” descendants with a
3rd-great-grandson of Major General Benjamin Butler. The Society annually commemorates this date in 1861, when local enslaved men Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend
fled to Fort Monroe and requested asylum. Their actions inspired Butler to make a bold decision that day, to grant them sanctuary. As a result, Fort Monroe and Hampton became a haven for
thousands of runaways in their fight for self-emancipation during the Civil War.
“Some people don’t realize the history that’s here. Descendants of these contraband slaves created a moral, spiritual and economically viable community for blacks, and the houses that many people now live in once belonged to the contraband.”
Gerri L. Hollins, Contraband Historical Society
The May 24th program, which is free to the public, also includes:
● Attorney and genealogist Bessida White, who recently discovered her own
● Living history reenactor Richard Scott, who appears as General Butler
● Historian Dr. William Wiggins who appears as Congressional Medal of Honor recipient
Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood
● Apostle Harriet Askew singing “Go Down, Moses”
● Dance program by Tyshawna Webb and the Built to Worship Dance Group.
Can’t join us in person? Please join us virtually. Register here to join us on virtually on May 24.