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Black History Month: African American Heritage Sites of DC, Maryland, and Virginia

This February celebrate African American History in Washington DC and surrounding areas

By John LimboPublished 2 years ago 7 min read

February is known to the United States of America as Black History Month. It is a special time of the year when the country celebrates the culture, history, and important contributions of the African American community to the country.

What better way to commemorate our Black history than visiting these African American historical sites in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Colonial National History Park, Jamestown VA

Jamestown was established as the first permanent English settlement in the Americas in 1607. In August 1619, the first enslaved Africans in North America arrived in the British colony from present-day Angola. Currently, the Colonial National Park is located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. The part includes several sites related to the Colony of Virginia, from the site of the first landing of the English to the site of the battle of Yorktown where the British were finally defeated in the American Revolutionary War. The park encompasses the Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile scenic parkway linking Yorktown, Historic Jamestown, and Colonial Williamsburg.

Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, Washington DC

This three-story Italianate brick rowhouse in 1518 Ninth St. NW became the home of Carter G. Woodson for the last 28 years of his life. Born to enslaved parents and was self-educated until the age of 20 when he got the chance to attend formal schooling, Woodson rose to prominence when he became the second African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. He then used his influence to advance the lives of people of color by pioneering the documentation of the lives and contributions of African-Americans to US history. He also founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life with his home as the first office. A year later he began to publish the Journal of Negro History, now known as the Journal of African American History. Because of these, Carter G. Woodson became known as the 'father of African-American history.' The site now preserves his residence and the original headquarters of the organization he founded.

Mary McLeod Bethune’s Council House National Historic Site, Washington DC

The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, located in the Logan Circle neighborhood, preserves the home of Bethune, an African-American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, and civil rights activist. She founded the National Council for Negro Women, an organization that aims to advance the quality of life of African-American women and their families. The house in Washington DC became the council's first headquarters. The NCNW occupied the first and second floors, while Bethune lived on the third floor. The house still preserves the remaining of Bethune's personal belongings after a fire destroyed some of her original furnishings. Aside from Bethune's life, the house and the archives celebrate the lives of women who have made significant contributions to the African-American community.

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Washington DC

Perched on a hilltop in Anacostia, this historic estate offers a panoramic view of the US Capitol and the Washington DC skyline. The grand Victorian home is where Frederick Douglass, an African American slave-turned-orator, lived from 1877 until he died in 1895. Park rangers take visitors on a guided tour around the house to learn the life and struggles of one of the most prominent African Americans of the 19th-century. Personal items such as his writing-table, eyeglasses, canes, his piano, and kitchen table are all on display. Though the items, visitors learn his life story from his childhood, his freedom from enslavement, his campaign for the abolition of slavery, up to his death at the same house.

Pullman National Monument, Chicago IL

The Pullman National Monument is a historic district in Chicago, Illinois which is recognized as the first model planned industrial community in the United States. It traces its roots from the Pullman Car Company which manufactures railroad cars from the mid-to-late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. During its time, it was the largest employer of African Americans in the country. The historic district includes the Pullman Company administrative building and factory complex and the Hotel Florence. Also inside the district is the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, named after the organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters labor union and a civil rights activist.

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Alabama

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument was established in 2017 by President Barack Obama in commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It encompasses half of the Birmingham Civil Rights District. It includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is the first colored Baptist Church organized in Alabama, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, an interpretative museum and research center that depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Also nearby is the Fourth Avenue Business District, Kevin Ingram Park, and Carver Theater.

Booker T. Washington National Monument, Virginia

The Booker T. Washington National Monument is located in a part of the 207-acre tobacco farm where the slave-turned-educator-and-leader was born. Booker T. Washington ‘lifted the veil of ignorance’ of his people when he became the guiding force in the founding of the Tuskegee Institute. The national park celebrates his life and commemorates his struggle, as well as depicts the 1850s slavery and farming through buildings, gardens, crafts, and animals. It also provides programs and events that focus on Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy.


Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Alabama

This national park preserves many of the original structures that were part of the Tuskegee Institute built by Booker T. Washington aimed to give higher education to African Americans. Booker T. Washington literally built the institute brick by brick. The park includes the George Washington Carver Museum, The Oaks, and the Tuskegee University historic campus. The Carver Museum celebrates the life, work, and inventions of the great African American scientist and educator. The Oaks was the home of the institute’s founder Booker T. Washington. The historic campus within the current Tuskegee University consists of the original brick buildings built by the students of the institute.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Alabama

This national park located in Moton Field, Alabama celebrates the contribution of African Americans to the history of aviation, particularly as army airmen during the Second World War. Moton Field was originally the training base for the first African American fighter pilots to be in service. The site operates to Hangars as museums depicting the life and training of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 1940s complete with a World War II-era training aircraft and a full-sized replica of a Red-Tail P-51 Mustang. Outdoor activities including historic buildings and exhibits are also available that tells the story of life in the 1940s and the history of the airmen.

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore MD

Founded by Baltimore-couple Dr's Elmer and Joanne Martin, aiming to commemorate the great people of color who made excellent contributions to society, this museum is similar to the world-renowned Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. As Baltimore was among the ports where the first slave ships from Africa docked, the museum appropriately displays a replica of a slave ship together with other important artifacts on African-American heritage. However, the real highlight of any trip is to see the museum's more than 150 life-sized wax statues of excellent people of color. The exhibits likewise provide the visitors a glimpse at the contribution of African-Americans in different fields from war and politics to civil liberties movements around the world to science and technology and the arts and literature.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Baltimore MD

Founded in honor of Baltimore's great African American lawyer, Reginald F Lewis, the museum is Maryland's top destination for Black American heritage. This museum offers numerous exhibits on African-American history, musical productions, workshops for kids, lectures, and comprehensive resources on genealogy. If you get hungry from looking around, no need to worry. The museum has an in-house cafe that uses excellent food the will certainly feed your soul.

George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri

The George Washington Carver National Monument in Newton County, Missouri is the first national park dedicated to an African American and non-president. It was established under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943. The park preserves the original home of George Washington Carver, a recognized African American educator and agricultural scientist. The site was originally a farm where the young Carver nurtured his interest in nature and agriculture. The visitor center recreates one of the laboratory classrooms of the Tuskegee Institute where Carver taught.

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