The cultural impact that African Americans have in the history of the United States is undeniable. Just take a look at their contributions featured within the newest Smithsonian museum. You’ll be amazed at what they have accomplished. Also, the hardships and eventual successes they’ve had to endure and celebrate are forever minted within the protected walls of these places. It is worthwhile to see not only during the celebration of Black History Month, but also for the remaining months of the year. February might already be over, but the year is barely just beginning. Here are some of the top African American related attractions to visit throughout the year.
Top African American Related Attractions
National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN
Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps the most famous African American civil rights activist in the history of our country. When he was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, the whole world felt the loss of an inspired leader. As a result, the city built and opened the National Civil Rights Museum, definitely one of the top African American related attractions to visit. It stands directly across the Lorraine Motel where the perpetrator James Earl Ray fired that deadly bullet.
Look through exhibits that chronologically visualize the events and happenings during the tempestuous era of the Civil Rights Movement. Revel at the stories grit, courage and resilience and reflect upon that fateful spring day in April as you peak through the window towards the motel. The museum recently underwent a massive renovation that increased the number of its exhibits almost two-fold.
National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington, D.C.
The latest of the Smithsonian Museums to open in the nation’s capital is dedicated to the long history and culture of African Americans in the United States. Aptly named as the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The museum tells the story of how African Americans came to the United States as slaves. As well as the trials and tribulations they’ve endured and continue to do so today with chilling effect. The museum opened last year in a ceremony attended by former President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 as the nation’s first African American president.
Birmingham Civil Rights District, Birmingham, AL
No other city in the United States is perhaps more synonymous to the Civil Rights Movement than Birmingham, Alabama. Considered the de facto headquarters of the movement and one of the top African American related attractions to visit, the Birmingham Civil Rights District (designated earlier this year as a national monument) features a number of historic sites. These sites include the 16th Street Baptist Church; the predominantly black church bombed by white supremacists that led to the death of four innocent children; the Carver Theatre, once a popular cinema house for African American movie goers; and the Kelly Ingram Park, the scene of many protests.
Fauborg Treme, New Orleans, LA
New Orleans, Louisiana is home to jazz. This musical genre that was the result of a confluence of African cultural and musical traditions. The neighborhood of Fauborg Treme (or simple Treme) is where all of it began. Naturally, a place that started what is considered to be one of the most successful areas of influence for African Americans will find its way on this list of top African American related attractions to visit.
Anyone who’s traveling and staying in New Orleans will realize that the Treme, from the vast Louis Armstrong Park to the reverberating walls of St. Augustine Church, embodies the vibrant and playfulness of jazz tunes.
DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, IL
Even before the NMAAHC opened in Washington, D.C., Chicago was already ahead of the curve when it came to highlighting African American history, in large part due to the impressive DuSable Museum of African American History.
This museum, which will celebrate its 60th year this year, is known for its innovative exhibits such as Red, White, Blue & Black; as well as impressive collection of artifacts and active involvement in the community through their art, education and history programs. It is also the first museum in the country built in honor of African American history and culture.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River, the waterway that was for many, a symbol of freedom during the heights of the Civil War, is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. This museum lands on this list of top African American related attractions to visit because it’s a museum that not only highlights the heroism of the many men and women who risked life and limb to obtain freedom, but also one that encourages and teaches the modern day world about the importance of human rights. Visitors might recognize the name Solomon Northrup (he has a permanent exhibit in the museum) whose story was immortalized in the movie, 12 Years a Slave.