Throughout the history of the United States, Black people have played crucial roles in several important facets of the country’s advancement. These contributions deserve to be recognised and celebrated by all. In addition, Black History Month is a great time to support Black businesses and visit important cultural landmarks and historical centres.
Through the former, we tend to learn about our present and future. The latter, however, helps us explore more of the past instead. Here are 8 historic landmarks in the US worth visiting during Black History Month:
1. National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, TN
The National Civil Rights Museum is built around the former motel, and since its renovation in 2014, the number of permanent exhibits has increased to more than 250 artefacts. There is also iconic graffiti, and the whole scenery is beautifully vintage. If you appreciate the late 60s aesthetic and grand architecture, this is a great stop. While Lorraine Motel is typically remembered as the assassination location of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, it is currently quite the immersive experience. (Black visitors even review that being on the premises feels ‘powerful’.) Before the MLK incident, the mortal was a famous stop spot for travelling Black people from way back — which is why Martin Luther King Jr even visited in 1968.
Check out their website to plan a visit.
2. American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO
18th and Vine is Kansas City’s Jazz District, a must-visit for jazz lovers of all ages. Here, you’ll find the American jazz museum, a destination with more than a hundred jazz recordings and an active jazz club. It also has a performing arts centre, films, photos and other rare forms of memorabilia in jazz history — even a beautiful sequined gown worn by Ella Fitzgerald.
Find tickets and more information on their website.
3. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located on the banks of the Ohio River, serving as a significant barrier between the southern states – which enslaved people – and the free northern territories. Its design mirrors the river; this is commonly referred to as an allusion to freedom. The centre, based on the history of the Underground Railroad, is a work of art in itself filled with works of art that analyse the struggles for freedom worldwide.
Plan your visit on their website.
4. Harriet Tubman Residence, Auburn, NYNY
Harriet Tubman is one of the most prominent underground railroad leaders, and her life in Auburn is noteworthy to black historians. Visitors can tour the park and the exterior of the buildings at her home. You can also visit the charity she founded and get a glimpse of her life in the town.
Find important information about touring the residence here.
5. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC
This museum is the only national museum dedicated to the documentation and exhibition of exclusively African American culture. The 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution ‘...will tell the American story through the lens of African American history and culture.’
Check out the website to plan a visit.
6. Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA
With three floors of sophistication, MoAD is a contemporary art museum that opened in 2005. Dedicated to celebrating African identity, part of the museum’s mission is to ‘ignite challenging conversations’ about black culture. The exhibitions focus on how Africans have found themselves all over the world, from how it started to how things are going now.
Visit their website for tickets and more information.
7. Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park, Atlanta, GA
This National Historical Park is arguably Atlanta’s top tourist destination. Open since 1980, a guided tour of this place is a chance to learn about MLK and how he grew up. The park consists of the home he was born in, the church where he preached, and the spot where he was buried — which is a memorial site. It's a common stop during most group tours of Atlanta, but if you want to plan a visit yourself, you can book tickets here.
8. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Site, Wilberforce, OH
The first African American U.S. Colonel was a prime member of the Buffalo Soldiers. These soldiers were African Americans in the ninth and tenth cavalry regiments, serving on the western frontier after the civil war. Charles Young lived in a brick house with his family, which is now part of the National Monument in Wilberforce. There are more than 50 acres of land to cover if you like the outdoors, but if you prefer something homey, head in the house and check out the commemorative artworks on display.
Plan a visit to the park here.