Black History Month is a time of celebration and education, a month dedicated to the incredible legacy of African Americans in the United States. Each year since 1976, every US President has officially declared February 1 to March 1 as Black History Month. Today, even countries like the UK and Canada celebrate Black History Month, recognizing the African Diaspora’s contribution in their own countries. The theme of 2021 is Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity, which aims to highlight the stories of Black families across borders and time. We share a few important sites, including museums and historic sites, where black history was created and is now documented.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the world’s largest museum dedicated to the African American community. With over 40,000 objects in the collection and over 3,500 on display, the exhibitions educate visitors about the different facets of African American lives. Going back to 500 years ago, the ‘Slavery to Freedom’ exhibit depicts the journey of the enslaved from Transatlantic Slave Trade to freedom. The museum also highlights the contributions of African Americans in music, sports, and popular culture.
Location: 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC
National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is America’s first memorial to remember the history of enslaved Black people across the country. The futuristic-looking memorial is, in fact, a grim reminder of the atrocities of the past and educates visitors about the history of racial lynching, and other atrocities towards African Americans both past and present. The memorial has 800 six-foot steel monuments that each represent a county where a racial lynching took place, along with the names of the lynching victims.
Location: 417 Caroline Street, Montgomery, Alabama
Boston Black Heritage Trail
Walking down the 1.6 mile Black Heritage Trail visitors can glimpse back on the lives of the African American community of Beacon Hill who lived there since before, during and after the Civil War and members constantly struggled for equal rights. Many of the homes were also a part of the Underground Railroad and assisted hundreds to their path to freedom. Some of the highlights on the trail include the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial to the first Black Regiment to serve in the civil war, Abiel Smith School and Phillips School which became the focal points of equal school rights the African Meeting House.
Location: 14 Beacon St, Boston, Massachusetts
A visit to the Kingsley Plantation will transport you back to the 17th and 18th centuries when Europeans arrived in Florida to farm and trade. First, it was the British and then the Spanish, they came to seek new wealth, but unfortunately, it was on the backs of the hard work of the enslaved. Visitors can learn more about life on the plantation through the times of the Kingsley family, who lived there for 25 years, and beyond. The Plantation House, Slave Quarters, Barn, and Kitchen House are well-preserved and offer insight into the residents' living conditions – both free and enslaved.
Location: 11676 Palmetto Ave, Jacksonville, Florida
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy is monumental, and it can be difficult to imagine him as a mere mortal. Yet, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park is an ideal place to learn more about him, his childhood, dreams, and motivation to create an equal America. The historical park encompasses 35 acres of downtown Atlanta and several homes and institutions where Dr. King spent his life. Visitors can glimpse his childhood home at 501 Auburn Avenue and the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was a co-pastor and gave his earliest speeches.
Location: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, Georgia
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Sometimes it’s the physical reminders - objects and artifacts - that bridge the gap between learning and experiencing. The Charles Hr. Wright Museum aims to do just that through its museum exhibit which is over 22,000 square foot and has over 20 galleries that depict the African American journey. The exhibit includes replicas of the Middle Passage slave quarters and artifacts from various freedom movements. The museum aptly narrates the story of African Americans beginning in Africa, through the horrors of the Middle Passage and onwards to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Location: 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, Michigan
Beale Street Historic District
Beale Street has witnessed the amazing birth of the Blues and watched it evolve from being a Southern music genre to influencing other music from rock and roll to Jazz! The historic street was declared ‘The Home of the Blues’ by an act of Congress and is a National Historic Site. The street was established in 1841 and soon became a hub for Black-owned businesses spearheaded by Robert Church, a former slave. In the Beale Street establishments, major events around the Civil Rights movement were planned, including Church Park a 2,000- seater auditorium that featured speakers including Woodrow Wilson and Brooke T. Washington.
Location: Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
National Civil Rights Museum
April 4th, 1968, was a dark day in America, it was on this day, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Today, the motel and surrounding buildings have been converted to a museum complex dedicated to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. The museum opened in 1991 and has audio and video exhibits that narrate the period of slavery in America. It also highlights iconic moments in the Civil Rights movement including the Student Sit-ins in 1960 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. The Lorrain Motel exterior has been preserved just as it was on the fateful day as a grim reminder of the struggles of African Americans in the US.
Location: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, Tennessee
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The Underground Railroad is one of the most extraordinary examples of human cooperation and perseverance. It was a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped enslaved African-Americans to escape to freedom. The Freedom Center aims to document and exhibit this arduous journey through audio-visual media and artifacts like the original Slave Pen from the 1800s. The Freedom Center educates about slavery in the past and creates awareness about modern slavery in its form of human trafficking and bonded labor.
Location: 50 E. Freedom Way Cincinnati, Ohio
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Plugging in the address of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in your GPS will offer you a moment of striking realization. The address 1964 Independence Ave is a nod to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was possible due to the activism of Dr. King. The memorial near National Mall is a set of monuments dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. including a massive granite statue. The statue has the image of Dr. King stepping out of stone, an ode to his speech ‘Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope’. The memorial also has inscriptions of his quotes on the walls.
Location: 1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC
Have you visited any of these historic sites and destinations? If you want to plan a trip to explore these destinations and enjoy a memorable trip with your family, filled with learning and fun, reach out to our expert travel designers at Voyay!ge.