Corrections & Clarifications: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the Congdon Street Baptist Church in Rhode Island.
From the moment the first African slaves arrived in the United States, through Reconstruction, war, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, they’ve influenced American culture through the communities in which they lived, died, worked and worshipped.
Here are 50 places, some off the beaten path, where we can remember African-American history and contributions.
1.Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Officially established in March 2013, the monument memorializes Charles Young, who overcame racism and inequality to become a prominent military leader. Born into slavery, he would become the third African-American graduate of West Point and the highest ranking black officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922.
(513) 607-0315; www.nps.gov/chyo
2.Nicodemus National Historic Site
Named after an African-American slave who purchased his freedom, this site is where a predominately black community was established during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Buildings on the site include Township Hall, First Baptist Church and a schoolhouse, among others.
(785) 839-4233; www.nps.gov/nico
15 black history sites you don’t know
On July 17, 1944, 320 men, mostly African-American sailors, were instantly killed in a massive explosion. Two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theatre troops blew up, causing World War II’s worst homefront disaster.
(925) 228-8860; www.nps.gov/poch
4.Pullman Historic District
Pullman was an industrial town founded in May 1880 as the realization of George M. Pullman’s wish to create a model community for working-class people. The historic district includes the Pullman factory and the Hotel Florence, as well as the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which is dedicated to African-American labor history.
(773) 785-8901; www.pullmanil.org
5.Allensworth State Park
Tulare County, Calif.
Established in 1908 by Col. Allen Allensworth and four other settlers, this was a community dedicated to improving the economic and social status of blacks. It is the only town in California to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The park features many restored buildings, including Allensworth’s house, historic schoolhouse, Baptist church and library.
6.Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Located in the city’s Civil Rights District along with the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and the Carver Theater, this is an interpretive museum which depicts the challenges of the American civil rights movement. The permanent exhibitions are a self-directed tour through Birmingham’s place in civil rights history.
7.National Civil Rights Museum
The museum complex is built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968. Also part of the museum is the building from which his assassin, James Earl Ray, fired the shot. The museum was renovated in 2014, increasing the number of exhibits.
8.Fort Pillow State Park
Lauderdale County, Tenn.
This 1,642-acre state park preserves the site of the Battle of Fort Pillow, where 229 of the 262 black Union soldiers were massacred by Confederate troops. The park, a national historic landmark, is now home to an interpretive center and museum.
(615) 532-0001; tnstateparks.com/parks/about/fort-pillow
9. Beale Street Historic District
Beale Street runs from the Mississippi River to East Street and is one of the birthplaces of the blues. Landmarks include the Beale Street Tap Room, Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall and King’s Palace Cafe.
(901) 526-0117; www.bealestreet.com
10. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum
Kansas City, Mo.
The two museums share a building and as part of the 18th and Vine Historic District. The Negro League Baseball Museum was founded by a group of former Negro league players and honors both the players and the role of the league in the community. The American Jazz Museum features interactive exhibits and films in celebration of jazz and its history.
888-221-6526, nlbm.com; 816-474-8463;americanjazzmuseum.org
11. DuSable Museum of African American History
Dedicated to the study and preservation of African-American history, culture and art, this museum opened in 1957 and is known for innovative exhibits like Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services and Freedom, Resistance and the Journey Toward Equality.
12. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Home to the largest permanent exhibit on African-American culture, this museum was founded in 1965. The museum regularly creates new exhibits to showcase more than 30,000 artifacts and archival materials, but the centerpiece is a permanent exhibit, And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African-American History and Culture, containing 20 galleries.
13. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Opened in 2004 in downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River, the museum attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually. The museum’s mission is to inspire everyone to take part in the modern struggles for freedom by connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.
14. Boston African American National Historic Site
Located in the the Beacon Hill neighborhood, this site is home to the Black Heritage Trail and the 1806 African Meeting House, the oldest standing African-American church in the United States. The site aims to memorialize the African-American community of 19th-century Boston that led the city and the nation in the fight against racial injustice.
(617) 742-5415; http://www.nps.gov/boaf/index.htm
15. Museum of the African Diaspora
This museum is dedicated to tracing our common roots to the African continent and emphasizes the global influence of African culture and art. One of the current exhibitions features 26 works, primarily sculptures and installation work, by the acclaimed Los Angeles artist Alison Saar.
16. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture
The building, opened in 2005 in honor of entrepreneur and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, was designed by renowned African-American architect Philip G. Freelon and inspired by a slave ship. The museum prides itself on being the best resource for information about the lives and struggles of African-American Marylanders.
17. International Civil Rights Center & Museum
The building was formerly a Woolworth department store best known as the site of the Feb. 1, 1960 sit-in initiated by four black North Carolina A&T State University students who were refused lunch-counter service because of their race. The museum is currently hosting the Americans Who Tell the Truth Traveling Exhibit of 52 larger-than-life sized portraits of African-American heroes.
18. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
The site honors the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, and the view of the nation’s capital is not to be missed. The house, a colonial mansion where Douglass lived for the last 13 years of his life, can be seen on guided tours.
(202) 426-5961; http://www.nps.gov/frdo/index.htm
19. Lincoln Park
This park features the Mary McLeod Bethune memorial (the first monument to honor a black woman in a public park) and the Abraham Lincoln memorial. Frederick Douglass delivered a keynote address here before President Ulysses S. Grant, his cabinet and members of Congress, discussing both his approval and disapproval of the monument. Funds for the monument were collected solely from freed slaves, primarily African-American Union veterans.
(202) 673-2402; http://www.nps.gov/cahi/learn/historyculture/cahi_lincoln.htm
20. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Completed in August 2011, this solid granite sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrating King’s dedication to civil rights and racial equality, can be found in West Potomac Park near the National Mall.
21. John Coltrane House
This was the home of American jazz legend John Coltrane from 1952 to 1967, two years before his death. Coltrane was a tenor saxophonist and a composer who played an important role in the development of jazz. The John Coltrane House is also the name of a nonprofit seeking to restore the house and operate it as a museum.
22. Historic Charleston’s Religious and Community Buildings
The National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary describes 43 historic places in this extraordinary area, including the Old Slave Mart, Old Bethel Methodist, and Emanuel AME. The Old Slave Mart is the only known surviving building used as a slave auction gallery in South Carolina. Emanuel AME was built in 1891 and is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South.
23. Freedmen’s Town National Historic District
This community, located in Houston’s Fourth Ward, was one of the first and the largest post-Civil War African American communities in Texas. It was founded by former Texas slaves who left their plantations upon hearing of liberation.
24. African American Museum
The museum was founded in 1974, originally a part of the Special Collections at Bishop College, a historically black college that closed in 1988. Now operating independently, the museum houses collections of fine and folk art by some of the foremost African-American artists and offers many exhibits and educational events aimed at families.
(214) 565-9026; aamdallas.org
25. African American Historic Resources of Alexandria
Landmarks include the Moses Hepburn Rowhouses (property of a prominent black citizen and businessman who had been born into slavery), Dr. Albert Johnson House (home of one of the city’s first licensed black physicians) and the George L. Seaton House (home of the entrepreneur and civic and political leader). The district also houses the Alfred Street Baptist Church (1855), Beulah Baptist Church (1863) and Davis Chapel (1834), all of which are historic churches for the black community.
26. Boley Historic District
Begun as a camp for black railroad workers, this is the site of an all-black community established in 1903. It is now recognized as a historic district and continues to function as a lively rural community.
27. Dunbar Apartments
New York City
These apartments, located in Harlem, were constructed by John D. Rockefeller in 1926 to provide housing for African Americans. The first project of its kind, the apartments were home to W. E. B. Du Bois, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Paul Robeson, among others.
28. Kingsley Plantation
Kingsley Plantation was established in 1763, making it the oldest known plantation in Florida. Today, the plantation is a house museum, displaying exhibits and furnishings that depict life on the plantation in its earliest years.
(904) 641-7155; http://www.nps.gov/timu/historyculture/kp.htm
29. Fort Mose
St. Augustine, Fla.
Founded in 1738 by Spanish colonists, this is the site of the first free black settlement in the United States. It provided refuge for slaves fleeing from the British Colonies and was later one of the original stops of the Underground Railroad.
30. Berkley Square
Berkley Square consists of 148 Ranch-style homes designed by African American architect Paul R. Williams. Provoked by poor housing conditions for African Americans in Las Vegas, the houses were built between 1954 and 1955 in the area historically known as Vegas’ Westside and comprised the first minority built subdivision in Nevada.
31. Pilgrim Baptist Church
Saint Paul, Minn.
Founded in 1863, Pilgrim Baptist is the oldest African American church in Minnesota.
32. Malcolm X House Site
Civil rights leader Malcolm X was born in a house on this site. Though the house has been demolished, there is a visitor center and historical marker worth checking out.
33. Philips Chapel Church
Las Cruces, N.M.
This century-old church, now called Christian Methodist Episcopal, is the oldest African-American church in southern New Mexico. It was founded when a group of American Americans and Hispanics joined to build a small chapel in what is now the Mesquite Historic District.
34. Congdon Street Baptist Church
Providence, Rhode Island
Founded in 1819, Congdon Street Baptist Church is the oldest African-American church in Rhode Island. In 1971, it became listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its cultural and architectural significance.
(401) 421-4032; www.csbchurch.org
35. Langston Hughes House
New York City
This is the former home of James Langston Hughes (1902-1967), author, poet, and one of the foremost figures in the Harlem Renaissance.
36. Underground Railroad Heritage Trail
New York was a major destination for African Americans seeking freedom in the years leading up to the Civil War. This Heritage Trail follows the routes through western New York of thousands of enslaved people who made the journey to freedom. There are many interpretive centers, museums and historic sites along the trail.
37. Harriet Tubman Residence & Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged
The home of renowned Underground Railroad leader and the charity she founded for aged and indigent African Americans are both open to the public and illustrate Tubman’s life in Auburn between 1859 and 1913. Also worth visiting is the Thompson AME Zion Church on Parker Street, where she worshipped.
38. Hinchliffe Stadium
This stadium was the home field for the New York Black Yankees between 1933 and 1937, and again from 1939 to 1945. Hinchliffe is one of the few surviving stadiums for black athletes during the segregation era.
39. Carver National Monument
Located at the birthplace and childhood home of the famous black scientist George Washington Carver, the monument is the first unit of the National Park Service dedicated to an African American. The park emphasized Carver’s role as a scientist and educator and offers a number of opportunities for children.
40. W.E.B. DuBois National Historic Site
Great Barrington, Mass.
This is the site of the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite and W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Democracy and Social Justice and also offers a walking tour of downtown Great Barrington. The site celebrates the life and achievements of the prominent black sociologist, writer, and major civil rights activist.
41. Royall House and Slave Quarters
In the eighteenth century this was the home of the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts. Now it is the site of a museum containing archaeological artifacts and household items and offering tours and educational programs.
42. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument
Dorchester County, Md.
President Obama established this site as a national monument in March, 2013. It comprises several places of significance to Tubman’s life, including the James Cook home site (where Tubman was hired out as a child) and the Jacobs Jackson home site (one of the first safe houses on the Underground Railroad).
43. Harriet Beecher Stowe House
This was the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the place where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin between 1850 and 1852. The center is dedicated to providing educational experiences and a place to witness and discuss aspects of the author’s life and legacy.
44. Evergreen Plantation
With 37 buildings on the National Historic Register, including 22 slave cabins, Evergreen Plantation is the most intact plantation complex in the south and exemplifies major slave plantations of the Antebellum South. Parts of the movie Django Unchained were filmed at this plantation.
45. Martin Luther King Historic District
This historic site includes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s boyhood home, gravesite and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was baptized and both his father and he were pastors. The visitor center contains a museum chronicling the American Civil Rights Movement and the instrumental role King played.
46. Fort Lyon
Bent County, Colo.
Some of the most active and important troops of the western U.S. in the 19th century were companies of African American soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers. Several such companies were quartered here during the Indian Wars, fighting alongside the white soldiers. The historic site has served as an Army fort, a sanatorium, a neuropsychiatry facility, and a minimum security prison, but now acts as a rehabilitative transitional housing facility for homeless people with some form of substance abuse problem.
47. Little Rock Central High School
This National Historic Site is recognized as where the first major confrontation over the implementation of the Brown v. Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court ruling occurred, in 1957. Nine African-American students were determined to attending the formerly all-white Central High School and made history with their persistence.
(501) 374-1957; http://www.nps.gov/chsc
48. Camp Nelson
Jessamine County, Kentucky
Camp Nelson was a large Union depot during the Civil War. For a time, Camp Nelson was Kentucky’s largest recruitment and training center for black troops. Thousands of African Americans were emancipated from slavery in exchange for service in the Union army. Some of them brought their families to live at Camp Nelson.
(859) 881-5716; http://www.campnelson.org
49. WROX Museum
This museum is located in the building where WROX, a radio station hosted by the famous radio personality Early Wright and catering to an African-American audience, was broadcast. The station remains largely unaltered from the time of its operation.
50. Banneker SW-9 Intermediate Boundary Stone
One of the original forty boundary stones for Washington, D.C., this stone commemorates Benjamin Banneker. The free, self-educated African American was a farmer, astronomer, mathematician and almanac author. Banneker helped survey and plan Washington D.C.