A Historic Community in the City of Virginia Beach, VA
BRIEF HISTORY OF "SEATACK"
"Seatack" found its name from the words "Sea Attack", based on British Warships firing canon-balls inland in the 1700s. "Seatack" is the oldest African American community in the United States. There were only 13 states in the United States when Seatack was settled. Seatack originally made up a large portion of the land of Old Princess Anne County, along the Atlantic coast and possibly along the Chesapeake Bay. Seatack was so large that old 1800 state records refer to it as "Seatack, Virginia" without any mention of Princess Ann County. Further research is being conducted by the Seatack Civic League to determine how large was the original Seatack community.
The African Americans who originally settled in Seatack in the late 1700's or beginning of the 1800's were free, not slaves. They owned their own farms, built their own homes. They were craftsmen, builders, farmers, fishermen, and hunters. Whatever they needed they built it with their own hands. During those early days of Seatack there was only three ways to eat. There was no Farm Fresh or Food Lion Stores to buy food. They had to hunt their food; grow their food; or go out in the Atlantic Ocean and fish for food.
Seatack First Life Savers in Virginia Beach- U. S. Life Saving Station Seatack, Virginia No. 2: Seatack men who were fishing in the Atlantic Ocean would pull people to safety after a shipwreck in the early 1800's. Black men of Seatack were life-savers before America ever had a U. S. Coast Guard. Around 1874, the first Keeper appointed by the U. S. Congress for U. S. Life Saving Station Seatack, Virginia No. 2, Mr. Edward Drinkwater, refused to allow any more black men of Seatack to serve as life savers under him. In 1979, the U. S. Congress placed the U. S. Life Saving Station Seatack, Virginia in the National Register of Historical Places. Eight months later, City of Virginia Beach officials had the name "Seatack" removed and replaced it with the name "Virginia Beach". This effectively served to keep the general public from knowing true "Seatack" historical contribution to American History. Ref. U. S. Coast Guard History Program.
In 1908, the citizens of Seatack formed the first school for Negro children at the Mother Church of Seatack, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 310 North Birdneck Road in Seatack, Virginia Beach. In the 1920's, the black parents of Seatack formed the Seatack Public School League of Princess Ann County. Seatack citizens later provided the land for the original Seatack Elementary School that opened in 1952. These first formal education efforts of Seatack citizens lead to demand for the first high school for Negro children in Princess Anne County that started in the 1930's.
On May 20, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 8757 that reactivated the U. S. Civil Defense. In Seatack, about 24 black men were appointed U. S. Civil Defense "Air Raid Wardens" to watch out for enemy air planes. At that time, Virginia Beach was a little township along the oceanfront. These black men from Seatack help protect the little Town of Virginia Beach during World War II, and made up a large part of the hard labor that helped Virginia Beach grow during its early development years.
Military Service: Black men of Seatack served in every war America has been involved in from the American Revolutionary War to the present date. Men and women of Seatack have given their best in defense of American freedom around the world, and at home in helping to build the City of Virginia Beach.
In 1948, the black men of Seatack who returned from World War II organized and built the first black owned and operated "Fire Department" ever to exist in the United States, know as the Seatack Volunteer Fire Department. It was located where the Seatack Community Recreation Center is today. The city moved the Seatack Fire station No 12 out of the heart of Seatack. Today Station 12 is located on South Birdneck Road by Seatack and Birdneck Elementary Schools near General Booth Boulevard.
In 1985, Mr. Joseph V. Grimstead, Sr., President of Seatack Community Properties, Inc. dedicated the land for the Seatack Community and Recreation Center to be built. The current facility opened on April 19, 1997. Ref. Virginian-Pilot Newspaper.
On October 15, 2011 the Seatack Civic League held the first annual 200th Birthday Celebration. It was the first major African American community event ever held in the City of Virginia Beach, and the first large event held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center by African Americans. Bishop Barnett K. Thoroughgood's National Funeral Service was held there on February 10, 2012 and set a new record of attendance for an African American event having over 4, 000.
On January 7, 2012 the City of Virginia Beach named the first city building after an African American man, Joseph V. Grimstead, Sr Seatack Community Recreation Center, on the site of the old Seatack Fire Station.
On June 25, 2012 Mayor William D. Sessoms along with senior residents of Seatack and Seatack Civic League officials held the Grand Opening of the Seatack Civic - College Funding Office at 141 South Birdneck Road at the Joseph V. Grimstead, Sr. Seatack Community Recreation Center. A continuation of our focus on our children education.
The Seatack Community Civic League (SCCL) is one of the oldest African American civic organization in the city, being over 100 years old. SCCL has been a member of the Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organization (VBCCO) since 1969. The current civic league administration was elected in 2010.