Making the American Dream Work

A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell, Virginia

Dr. Lauranett Lee, author of "Making the American Dream Work: A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell, Virginia" signs a copy of her book at the Juneteenth kickoff exhibit and reception Friday evening at the Appomattox Regional Library System headquarters.

Dr. Lauranett Lee, author of “Making the American Dream Work: A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell.”

A compact collection of historic sites and personal stories illuminate life for African Americans in the city of Hopewell.  Its location, at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers, twenty-four miles southeast of Richmond, enabled its predecessor, City Point to become a thriving trade center.  Hopewell’s history spans 400 years and includes Algonquian-speaking Indians, Europeans and Africans.  Despite wars, disasters, the influx of enslaved people, military personnel and immigrants, City Point and later the city of Hopewell has endured and in fact embodies the pursuit of the American Dream.  This study illustrates how a disfranchised and discriminated group of people have continually pushed themselves and others to actualize and enjoy all that the American Dream has come to symbolize. In 2004 the Hopewell city council commissioned the African American oral history project.   During the spring and summer of 2005, the author, Lauranett Lee, Ph.D., interviewed twelve citizens ranging from former students and teachers, school administrators and ministers, as well as parents and community volunteers who shared their stories.  In addition, eight state and nationally recognized historic landmarks highlight Hopewell’s cultural history.  They are:  Kippax Plantation Archeological Site, Appomattox Manor, Weston Manor, City Point National Cemetery, City Point Historic District, Downtown Hopewell Historic District, Beacon Theatre, and Hopewell Municipal Building.  Two maps, one of the precinct wards and another of the historic sites, as well as an index enable readers to easily locate boundaries, markers and subject matter.  In addition to images of the interviewees, twenty-eight photographs enliven the text.   The end notes and bibliography provide information for further study.

In the city of Hopewell, Making the American Dream Work can be purchased at the following outlets:

Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc., Weston Manor Gift Shop
400 Weston Lane
(804) 458-4682
Monday through Saturday from 10-4:30 and Sunday 1-4:30

The Hopewell Visitor Center
4100 Oaklawn Boulevard
(804) 541-2461 or 1 (800) 863-8687
Monday-Sunday from 9-5 am

John Randolph Medical Center Gift Shop
411 West Randolph Road
(804) 541-7720
Monday-Saturday from 9-4:30 and Sun 12:30- 4:30

Various online booksellers also carry Making the American Dream Work:  A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell, Virginia