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Chapter 27 - Pocahontas Island

Below the streets of Old Towne Petersburg lay Pocahontas Island.

 

Before the Civil War, thousands of freed men and women called Pocahontas Island home.

 

Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a leading figure in the Back-to-Africa movement and the first president of Liberia in 1848, grew up here.

 

Despite the historical and cultural value of Pocahontas Island, in 1971 the white-majority Petersburg City Council tried to zone its residents out of existence. . . . Fewer than 100 residents held on, mostly elderly, living in meager homes on the island’s five streets.

 

The community’s centerpiece was the Pocahontas Chapel.

 

The Appomattox was about sixty yards across here, just down from its fall line and just above the roar of the I-95 traffic crossing it.

 

Fattah pointed upstream to the old railroad bridge abutments in the river.

Pocahontas Island Black History Museum