10 U.S. Locations Where Your Family Can Explore Black History

Black History Month is February

By Helen Bryant, publisher of Macaroni Kid Louisville Central and Louisville Southwest and Kara Murphy, publisher of Macaroni Kid Erie, Pa. February 2, 2021

February is Black History Month. One way to honor the meaning of the month with your family is to visit historic sites, memorials, and museums throughout the country that inspire, celebrate, and educate about African-American culture and history.

Here are 10 significant sites in the United States your family can visit during Black History Month in February -- or any time of year.

Photo credit: Equal Justice Initiative/Human Pictures
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama opened in 2018.

Southern United States

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tuskegee, Ala.

The Tuskegee Airmen were heroes of World War II and the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. At the time, they were subject to Jim Crow laws and the military was racially segregated. Their story reflects the struggle of African Americans to achieve equal rights.

MLK Jr. World Peace Rose Garden

Atlanta, Ga.

The Martin Luther King Jr. World Peace Rose Garden borders the Peace Plaza, in front of the Visitor Center. It has 185 roses in a variety of colors and fragrances. It was established in 1992 as part of a worldwide effort to help youth recognize the importance and value of peace. The graves of Dr. and Mrs. King can be seen directly across the street if you stand at the Peace Plaza, facing the rose garden. 

National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Montgomery, Ala.

This memorial, which opened in 2018, gives a sobering, immersive look at the history of racial terror in the United States. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice features an emotionally powerful installation of more than 800 steel pieces, each representing a county in the U.S. where racial lynching took place. Just a short distance away is the Legacy Museum, located on a site where enslaved people were once traded.

Photo Credit: National Park Service/Anthony DeYoung
The African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Eastern United States

African Burial Ground

New York, NY

Building construction in 1991 unearthed intact human skeletal remains 30 feet below street level. When archaeologists explored further, they found the "Negroes Buriel Ground," a six-acre burial ground containing an estimated 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York and who died between the 1630s and 1795. It is the nation’s earliest and largest African burial ground rediscovered in the United States and became a national historical landmark in 1993.

African American Civil War Memorial

Washington, D.C.

This memorial honors the more than 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy during the Civil War. Their service helped to end the war and free over four million slaves. While in D.C., also don't miss the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, a monument worthy of the great works of the Civil Rights leader. Photo Credit: NPS/Anthony DeYoung

Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial 

Boston, MA 

The first documented African American regiment formed in the north was the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry after a clause in Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation gave African American volunteer regiments a chance to fight. African American men came to enlist from every region of the north, and from as far away as the Caribbean. The regiment, which became famous after an attack on Fort Wagner, S.C., included Sergeant William H. Carney, who was severely injured in the battle, but saved the regiment’s flag. He later became the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The monument is named for Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment leader.

Photo by Kara Murphy
Hitsville U.S.A. looks just like it did during the height of its recording days.

Midwestern United States

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center 

Cincinnati, Ohio

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center tells the heroic stories of people who were central to the Underground Railroad. But it also takes visitors through contemporary times by delving into continuing modern day issues such as human trafficking. 

Motown Museum

Detroit, Mich.

There are many sights to see in Detroit when it comes to black history, but one can't-miss is Hitsville U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum. Visitors feel like they've stepped back in time inside and get a chance to stand in Studio A where some of the nation's greatest artists once recorded. While you're in Detroit, make time for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, home to more than 35,000 artifacts.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum 

Kansas City, Mo.

In the early 1900s, black Americans weren’t allowed to play on Major League Baseball teams. But that didn’t stop athletes from playing and forming their own teams. Today, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, preserves the fascinating history of black baseball players from the late 1800s to the 1960s.

Photo credit: Museum of the African Diaspora
Kids are encouraged to create at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

Western United States

Museum of the African Diaspora

San Francisco, Calif.

Diaspora means the dispersion of any people from their original homeland. San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, often referred to as MoAD, is a Smithsonian affiliate contemporary art museum whose goal is to celebrate black cultures, ignite challenging conversations, and inspire learning -- all through the global lens of the African diaspora.

Helen Bryant is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Louisville Central and Louisville Southwest and Kara Murphy is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Erie, Pa.