Virginia Weighs Future of Historic Fort After Army Leaves

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Fort Monroe, a Union oasis where fugitive slaves flocked during the Civil War, will return to Virginia’s control in 2011 when the Army pulls out, and historians are trying to protect the future of the so-called Freedom Fortress.

Many slave descendants trace the arrival of slavery in the United States in 1619 to Old Point Comfort, the hatchet-shaped peninsula where Fort Monroe sits, and where slavery would be ushered into its final stages nearly 250 years later.

“When you look at how immigrants went to Ellis Island, our people couldn’t do this,” said Gerri L. Hollins, who counts a fugitive slave among her ancestors. “This is our Ellis Island.”

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