PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY ) – Get to know local Black History with the ‘heroes and history’ walking tour. The tours are every Saturday at 11 a.m.

During Black History Month, Historic Emanuel A.M.E on North Street will open its doors to tour the sanctuary.

Participants can learn about the congregation and see features of the Underground Railroad.

Karen Washburn organizes the tours, as Mary Veale and the Colonials. A troupe of talented performers takes you on a journey through the history of Portsmouth.

Steven Alexander, a comedian and impressionist, plays Jeffery Thomas Wilson, a slave who went on the become Portsmouth’s first black newspaper columnist with the ‘colored notes.’

Wilson also has a sign in the Emanual A.M.E, where he served as the Sunday School Superintendent for 50 years. On the first floor of the church, you can see his Sunday school notes.

“This church right here, it was built by slaves and free people,” explained Alexander.

Another member of the historic church was Eliza Baines, a slave who worked as a spy to help those heading north. Her character is played by longtime Portsmouth native Yvette Simmons.

“As I continue to think about my people, faith. The church has always carried us,” said Simmons. “We have such a rich history it was not always about the enslaved because there were free blacks and the things that we were able to accomplish by working together. If we could do that, I think Portsmouth and the world would be a better place.”

To book a tour visit, Mary Veale and the Colonials | Portsmouth Tourism.