9 Places to Learn about Black History in the United States
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is one of the best, and most important, museums I've ever visited. It is also one of the most challenging. There is a lot of disturbing content in this museum. You will emerge a better person from having experienced it.
Kansas City, Missouri
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is packed full of interesting artifacts from men such as Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, and Roy Campanella, talented athletes who were prevented from playing Major League Baseball during the era of segregation. You don't have to be a baseball fan to thoroughly enjoy this outstanding museum.
Anyone who has ever attended school in the US should visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. It is housed in a once-segregated school, restored to its 1954 appearance. Inside, you feel the injustice of legal segregation and the struggles of those who worked so hard to end it.
The Legacy Museum is the most powerful museum I have ever visited. (The US Holocaust Memorial Museum is a close second.) It is difficult, it is challenging, and it is so, so important.
Our family LOVED this museum. Each gallery, representing different eras in African American music, was packed with interesting things to read, see, and do. Of the many excellent music museums we've visited, this is my favorite.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is an outstanding place to visit on its own, but plan plenty of time to visit Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church as well. They're located across the street. Together, they tell so many important stories about the fight for civil rights.
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is housed in the actual Woolworth's building where the first lunch counter sit-in took place. That lunch counter is still intact, complete with the original dishes, menus, and everything else. We learned so much during our visit.
The Smith-Robertson Museum houses all sorts of exhibits about the history, struggles, and achievements of Black people in America. The building was constructed in 1894 as Jackson's first public school for Black students. The school's most famous graduate is author Richard Wright.
The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is packed with artifacts and stories about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans military pilots. Their success was instrumental in desegregating the military. There is so much to see here and so many inspirational stories.
There are so many more places to learn about Black history, including three we were supposed to visit during our 12-hour trip to nowhere:
- National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Little Rock Central High School National Historic Park (Little Rock, Arkansas)
We have technically been to Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park (Atlanta, Georgia), but only the outside. It was closed due to COVID when we visited. Seeing the inside is high on my bucket list.
Some of the other sites on my bucket list include:
- National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
- Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park (Church Creek, Maryland)
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)
- American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, Missouri)
- Whitney Plantation (Wallace, Louisiana)
- Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, Michigan)
Do you have any other recommendations for great places to learn about Black history in the US? Tell me in the comments!