After their manumission in 1801, many former Mount Vernon slaves settled in free black communities nearby.
In the following decades, they purchased land, planted crops, started businesses, formed churches, founded schools, created civic organizations, and helped freed and runaway slaves. Many of their descendants continue to live in the area today.
Even as they celebrated freedom, formerly enslaved people faced great challenges. Many had been separated from family members who remained enslaved. African Americans also encountered racism and discrimination in Virginia, as laws restricted the rights of free blacks in the state.
Bowls were passed down in the family of Loretta Carter Hanes (pictured below), a descendant of Sukey Bay and her daughter Rose Carter—both enslaved field workers at Mount Vernon’s River Farm who were emancipated by George Washington’s will. The family has long used blue-and-white tableware, a tradition they trace to their ancestors at Mount Vernon. Many fragments of blue-and-white ceramics have been unearthed in archaeological excavations of 18th-century Mount Vernon slave quarters.