10 Inspiring Places Where You Can Honor Black History in the US
If you look hard enough, you can find the legacy of Black Americans in most places around the United States. But while the country was largely built on the blood, sweat, and tears of Black people, their legacy is usually whitewashed, and key facts and figures are often overlooked.
In recent years, there has finally been a movement to recognize this history by erecting new monuments and focusing on the stories of Black Americans at historic sites—and older sites are also finally getting their due. Here are 10 places to go to honor Black Americans during Black History Month.
Beale Street Historic District
Spanning a 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometer) stretch from the Mississippi River to East Street, Beale Street is known as the Birthplace of the Blues. It’s been an important place for African Americans since shortly after the end of the Civil War, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Legendary musicians such as W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Memphis Minnie, and Muddy Waters all performed on this famous strip at some point in their careers, shaping blues, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and R&B into the forms we know today.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Located on the banks of the Ohio River (which acted as a natural barrier between slave-owning states and free territories), the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center focuses on both the experiences that enslaved people endured during the pursuit of freedom on the Underground Railroad, and the issue of modern-day slavery. Permanent and traveling exhibits use storytelling, film, and artwork to highlight the horrors of enslavement and human trafficking, from chattel to modern slavery—and what it means to be free.
Tom Bullock Mural
More than 100 years after he published his trailblazing cocktail book The Ideal Bartender, pioneering author and bartender Tom Bullock finally has a fitting memorial in the city of Louisville. The son of a former enslaved person, Bullock was known for the creative drinks he concocted during the Prohibition Era. He was also the first Black American to publish a cocktail book in the US. The mural, created by Kacy Jackson, appears on the front windows of the restaurant Sway, which sits on the famous Urban Bourbon Trail in downtown Louisville.
Roots 101 African-American Museum
Started as a passion project by Lamont Collins in 2019, the Roots 101 African American History Museum explores the African American story through art, music, artifacts, and education. This five-level museum is full of works that depict different eras of African American history and culture, ranging from sculptures from the Kingdom of Benin to a Big Momma’s House exhibit. Be sure to check out We Fought for Our Freedom: Kentucky’s African American Civil War Soldiers, a brilliant exhibition about 10 formerly enslaved men who fought with the Union Army’s 108th United States Colored Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.
Until a particular episode of the recent HBO show The Watchmen aired in 2021, most Americans had never heard of “Black Wall Street,” the historic neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was home to over 600 Black-owned businesses in the 1920s. This thriving neighborhood, Greenwood District, was razed to the ground during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, and it was subsequently omitted from history books.
Greenwood Rising, which opened in August of 2021, honors the legacy of Black Wall Street and all that was lost there. The history center brings the town’s story to life through projections that display the destruction and violence—and through stories from survivors, who recount the horror of that night to make sure that it may never be forgotten again.
The Hunterfly Road Houses/Weeksville Heritage Center
Founded in Brooklyn by James Weeks in the 1830s, Weeksville was one of the largest free Black communities to exist before the Civil War. Sadly, all that remains of the community is the Hunterfly Road Houses: five small buildings that have been marked as a historic landmark. Visitors can take guided tours of this historic house and visit the nearby Weeksville Heritage Center, which hosts an array of exhibits, lectures, and community events focusing on social justice issues and the plight of Black Americans.
Named after famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the Tubman Museum in Macon, GA is dedicated to celebrating Black Americans’ rich history and culture. Visitors can explore a variety of exhibitions on Black artists, folk art, and the decorative arts—and learn the untold stories of Black inventors such as Garrett Morgan, Lonnie Johnson, Sarah Boone, and Alice H. Parker. There’s also an illustrated nine-panel mural that explores the feats of African Americans throughout history.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Formally known as Place des Nègres, Congo Square was a sacred place for Black Americans living in New Orleans in the 19th century. Every Sunday, both enslaved and free people of color would gather here to sell goods, worship, sing, dance, and play drums. These Sunday gatherings played a substantial role in the development of jazz, second line, and Mardi Gras traditions and also nurtured the evolution and commercialization of Voodoo. The area is still culturally significant today; Black social aid and pleasure clubs, such as Zulu and the Mardi Gras Indians, still parade in this area during Mardi Gras.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is an 85,000-square-foot space spanning five floors with roughly 3,000 objects and 17 interactive stations. Each exhibit highlights some part of the Black experience in America, from the transatlantic slave trade to the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Artifacts include from a plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen, a Bible carried by the freedom fighter Nat Turner, the casket of Emmett Till, and a shawl worn by Harriet Tubman.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kansas City, Missouri
This 10,000-square-foot space is devoted to preserving the history of these trailblazing Black players who were denied a spot in the Major Leagues due to Jim Crow laws. Visitors can learn about Black baseball players like Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, and Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige—and see a vast collection of memorabilia. Make sure to check out Beauty of the Game, a display that celebrates the women of the Negro Leagues.