Red Hill’s new director of community engagement hopes to educate a wider audience | Local News

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Takisha Fowlkes is a self-proclaimed history buff. There’s no hesitation in her voice when she says it.

And there aren’t many better places for a history buff in Central Virginia than Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in Brookneal, about a 50-minute drive south of downtown Lynchburg. Red Hill is known as the final resting place and burial place of the famous founding father.

“It’s history right here in our backyard,” Fowlkes said of the property. “And to be a part of something with so much history, it’s such a great opportunity.”

Fowlkes was hired last month as director of community engagement at Red Hill on October 11. In the future, she hopes to bring her knowledge of history, as well as her self-proclaimed “accessible and bubbly” attitude, to the position of educating as many people as possible about the property.

Although Fowlkes is originally from Virginia and holds a degree from Southside Virginia Community College in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications from Liberty University, she had never heard of Red Hill until she saw the job offer for the position.

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But through the process of finding the property, interviewing for the job, and being on the pitch, she “fell in love” with the story on the pitch.

“A lot of people don’t know it’s here,” she said. “Patrick Henry is one of the mainstays of Virginia. You learn these things in grade school, but back then I wasn’t as interested in history as I am now. But you appreciate it more now.

Henry is best known as one of America’s Founding Fathers, as well as the first Governor of the Commonwealth. His oratorical skills were among his strongest, being known for the famous quote “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Melissa Carwile, operations manager at Red Hill, said the team was “very excited” to welcome Fowlkes to the staff last month.

“Takisha is very outgoing and full of energy and we believe she will be a definite asset to Red Hill by engaging the community and attracting new audiences through her engagement and new programming,” said Carwile.

“Takisha has quickly become a treasured part of our Red Hill family.”

After a month of work, Fowlkes and the rest of the staff are working on a more targeted approach to publicize all the good things happening in the first governor’s final residence.

“The main thing is that we try to involve people in the community just to let them know we are here. We reached out to see if we could find any descendants of the slaves who lived on the property, as well as the educate about Patrick Henry and what he’s done here,” Fowlkes said.

Thanks to an event held over the summer, the Quarter Place Dedication Ceremony, they were able to identify 40 of the slave graves on the property, a milestone in the work of identifying descendants of these people.

Such events allow the community to learn more about the property’s history, but they also host more casual events, including the recent Barbecue, Bluegrass & Brew Festival, which was Fowlkes’ first event in its new role that had a turnout. of more than 1,000 people.

Red Hill will also be hosting a Christmas Open House on Dec. 5, where there will be apple cider, stew and a “chance to get into the holiday spirit with the community,” Fowlkes said.

Fowlkes hopes the community events will help people learn more about the property and inspire them to get out to learn more about the historic nature.

“That’s how we can get them interested in exploring the grounds and seeing what we have to offer. We want them to know Patrick Henry as the great speaker he was and not just specifically as a slave owner.

Although Red Hill staff primarily cover day-to-day operations, Fowlkes said they are always looking for more volunteers to help continue the mission on the property by helping out at events like the Barbecue, Bluegrass & Brew. Festival.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. We have an amazing team and we’re always looking for amazing people,” Fowlkes said.

For more information about Patrick Henry’s Red Hill, go online to: redhill.org.

“Takisha [Fowlkes] is very outgoing and full of energy and we believe she will be a definite asset to Red Hill by engaging the community and attracting new audiences through her engagement and new programming.”

Melissa CarwileRed Hill Operations Manager

Melissa Carwile
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