Learning about history becomes way more interesting when you step into the actual places where important events happened. But if you want to really understand Black history, visiting the homes and sites where it all took place is a great idea.

Traces of Black history everywhere.

There are many old homes, sites, and museums that hold the stories of Black history. When you visit these places, you get to walk through the same halls and rooms that were once home to Black activists, writers, musicians, politicians, and historians. It’s like stepping back in time and connecting with a big part of American history. You can find traces of influential Black musicians, politicians, writers, and Civil Rights leaders in almost every state.

The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for preserving numerous African American heritage sites. Their mission, as stated on their website, is to safeguard and interpret locations that teach us about our nation’s history and culture. They want to make sure that future generations glean valuable lessons from the past. The several African American heritage sites under the stewardship of the National Park Service pay homage to the contributions African Americans made to the nation.

Preserved homes, sites, museums, and more.

Among the sites preserved by the NPS are the Harriet Tubman National Historic Site in New York, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in the District of Columbia, and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Mississippi, a recent addition to the National Park Service System.

Beyond the NPS network, historic sites are nestled within neighborhoods, each with its own unique narrative. Examples include Muhammad Ali’s home in Louisville, KY, and the Villa Lewaro, the Madame CJ Walker Estate in Irvington, NY.

The Civil Rights Trail includes over 100 locations across 15 states. It tells the story of Black people fighting for equal rights. You can visit places like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., or the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where an important confrontation happened during the marches.

If you’re interested in exploring and celebrating Black history, check out the list below for some places you can visit.

  • Motown Museum, Detroit, MI

    The Motown Museum, housed in a small brick house, is where some of the most iconic music in U.S. history was created. Inside, you’ll explore the recording studio, check out costumes and photos, and learn the fascinating story of the legendary Black record label. The main gallery exhibit changes regularly, featuring deep dives into beloved Motown acts and albums.

  • African Meeting House, Boston, MA

    Built in 1806, the African Meeting House is one of the oldest surviving Black church structures in the U.S. It was constructed by the free African American community in Beacon Hill, serving as a church, school, and cultural center. Frederick Douglass recruited soldiers for the Civil War’s first Black regiment here in 1863, and in 1832, William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society. It was recognized as a National Historic Site in 1974.

  • Marian Anderson Historical Residence and Museum, Philadelphia, PA

    Marian Anderson, a celebrated classically trained contralto and civil rights figure, shattered racial barriers with her exceptional voice. Initially denied entry to a Philadelphia music school due to her race, she overcame this setback by studying in Europe. Returning to the U.S., she graced Carnegie Hall and, in 1936, became the first African American to perform at the White House. When barred from Constitution Hall, First Lady Roosevelt resigned in protest, leading to Anderson’s iconic performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Her residence, a red brick house, served as her primary home when not on tour.

  • Nina Simone Childhood Home, Tryron, NC

    Nina Simone’s birthplace is a modest three-room house surrounded by North Carolina poplar trees. In this humble setting, Simone honed her exceptional musical talent and developed her outspoken stance against oppression. After piano lessons and attending an all-girls boarding school, she moved to New York, where she wrote and performed socially conscious tunes like “Four Women,” “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” and “Mississippi Goddam.” Actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, her music was banned in several Southern states. Simone’s childhood home was purchased by four African American artists in 2017, preserving her legacy in African American culture and history.

  • Zora Neale Hurston House, Ft Pierce, FL

    Zora Neale Hurston’s final home is a flat-roofed bungalow surrounded by flowers. She was a highly successful African American woman writer in the first half of the 20th century, known for four novels, two folklore books, an autobiography, and numerous plays. Her most famous work, Their Eyes Were Watching God, showcased the beauty of Black dialect, becoming her signature literary style. Besides being an accomplished writer, Hurston also worked as an anthropologist, documenting the richness of Black culture from the American South to Haiti, Jamaica, and Honduras.

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