We Have a Claim on this Estate

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Date: October 9, 2014
Contact: Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, 202-619-7400

WASHINGTON— Join the National Park Service (NPS) at Arlington House - The Robert E. Lee Memorial for a day and evening of special programs commemorating the important African American history at the former plantation. Programming runs from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 11, and features African dance, gospel music by the Mount Zion Church choir, a public unveiling of a rare, previously unknown Civil War-era photo of enslaved housekeeper Selina Gray, and a discussion led by renowned historian Hari Jones followed by a screening of scenes from 12 Years a Slave.

As the National Park Service approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016, and in the midst of the 150th commemoration of the Civil War, we are more committed than ever to uncovering and sharing stories of all Americans. We invite visitors to explore the site and reflect on the lives of those who worked as enslaved property of the Custis and Lee families, and who helped shape the course of American history. 

Schedule of Events: 

2 p.m. Public unveiling of a previously unknown Civil War-era stereo view photograph of Selina Gray, head enslaved housekeeper to General Robert E. Lee and his family at their Arlington estate. The priceless piece is an invaluable addition to the park’s museum collection, as identifiable period images of enslaved people are extremely rare, and Selina Gray is integral to telling the story of this place in American history. The extraordinary find was made by an NPS volunteer on eBay. The seller, based in England, had the photo in a box of “unwanted” photographs purchased at a “boot fair” in Kent, England. 

2 to 5 p.m. 
  • Art, quilting, crafts
  • Storytelling
  • “A Garden Sustains” food grown on the Arlington plantation
  • Children’s activities including ragdoll making and junior ranger activities
  • Ranger-led history programs 
5:15 p.m. Demonstration and history of banjo music, Greg Adams 

6 p.m. “ African American Foodways,” Tambra Raye Stevenson 

6:30 p.m. Performance by Culture Kingdom Kids, african dancers 

7 p.m. “African American Women in the Civil War,” Dennis Doster/Alexandria Black History Museum 

7:20 p.m. “The Syphax Family,” Craig Syphax/Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, descent of Maria and Charles Syphax 

7:45 p.m. Performance by members of Mount Zion Church choir 

8:30 p.m. “‘12 Years a Slave,’ in History,” Hari Jones, noted historian and assistant director and curator of the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum 

The program is free and appropriate for all ages. Arlington House- The Robert E. Lee Memorial is accessed via Arlington National Cemetery. Public transportation is available via Metro’s Blue Line, but the Arlington station closes at 7 p.m. Parking is available with an RSVP to arlingtonhouseevents@nps.gov due by 5 p.m. Friday, October 10. 


Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
700 George Washington Memorial Parkway
c/o Turkey Run Park

McLean , VA 22101


(703) 235-1530

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