Exploring Vermont’s Black History This Year

February is Black History Month, a time to learn about and honor Black contributions to Vermont. Black Vermonters have had a profound impact on agriculture, owned businesses, held public office, fought alongside fellow citizens in major wars, and worked to make Vermont a better place. 

One of Vermont’s most beautiful properties, Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, is an exploration of Vermont’s role in the Civil War. In 1777, Vermont’s original constitution abolished slavery and provided full voting rights for Black men. Today, Hildene hosts a permanent outdoor exhibit on the lives of Black Pullman porters. Read about a trip to Hildene by weekly arts newspaper Seven Days.

What to learn more? Here are some ways to learn more about how Black Vermonters made the Green Mountain State the haven of freedom, culture, arts and innovation it is today.

1. I am… 2021 Virtual Arts Exhibit
In 2021, the Vermont Arts Council offered a virtual stage for a diverse group of Vermont artists to showcase their work. The exhibit has been archived and is available to view virtually. Read interviews with more than 30 artists about how their work reflects their experiences in racial, ethnic and gender differences.

2. Read at the Rokeby
Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum stewards some of Vermont’s Underground Railroad history, when Vermonters helped Black slaves from the south escape into freedom. Their exhibits include first-hand accounts of the stories of slavery and the Vermonters who helped them find freedom. This month, a virtual book group will discuss Elise Guyette’s “Discovering Black Vermont.” The Rokeby Museum also offers virtual exploration of its exhibit, “Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont.”

3. Plan a Trip Along the African American Heritage Trail
Vermont’s Black history is celebrated along the African American Heritage Trail, which links more than 30 beautiful and historically significant sites across the state and offers educational resources and a deep dive into Vermont’s Black history and culture. Research some of Vermont’s most important historic places as you plan for future travel.


Ferrisburgh’s Rokeby Museum is a stop along the African American Heritage Trail, and celebrates Vermont’s history on the Underground Railroad, helping enslaved people find their way to freedom.  Visitors can tour the home and farm of Quaker abolitionists Rowland and Rachel Robinson and the multimedia exhibit that introduces two fugitives from slavery who were sheltered at Rokeby in the 1830s.