Communities come together in February to honor and celebrate Black History Month, and to learn about the vibrant heritage of African Americans. In Martinsville-Henry County, this annual commemoration includes several permanent exhibits and special events dedicated to preserving and sharing African American culture.
The Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) is a centerpiece. Nestled in Uptown Martinsville, FAHI serves as a living testament to the resilience and triumphs of generations past, via its displays and exhibits that entice visitors to journey through time.
The Baldwin Block Canvases, displayed outside the Baldwin Building (New College Institute), depict a streetscape view of buildings and places significant to the history of this location on Fayette Street and the culture, including the Baldwin Pharmacy, Jobbers Pants Co., and Saint Mary’s Hospital, among others.
The Bassett Historical Center currently houses more than 35,000 genealogy books, manuscripts, genealogy family files, local history files, family photograph files, and periodicals, including Henry County’s Cohabitation List and the book Afro-American Marriages of Henry County, Virginia, by Harris and Millner. (Call ahead – by appointment only.)
The June German Ball Mural depicts a fictional scene from one of Martinsville’s famed June German Balls, which were popular within the African American community in the early part of the 20th century. These balls were held annually, in the heat of June, and featured celebrated entertainers from the Jazz age like Jimmie Lunceford & His Dance Orchestra, who performed at the event in 1938.
There are several historical markers throughout the area that highlight Black History, including the Chatmoss Historic Marker; Dry Bridge School Historic Marker; Fayette Street Historic Marker, and the recent Martinsville Seven Historic Marker.