10 Powerful African American Heritage Sites You Should Know About

America’s national parks weave together a mosaic of African American history. A large patchwork of National Park Service sites were founded because of their pivotal places in history. Other sites highlight the untold stories—the no-less-important, every-day-remarkable stories of African Americans in history.

 

African Burial Ground National Monument, NY

African Burial Ground National Monument, NY

A chilling discovery of an African burial ground in lower Manhattan found that over 15,000 African Americans were buried at this site. As a locus of tribute and memory, this monument fills the absence of the scars left by the heritage of slavery.

Nicodemus National Historic Site, KS

Nicodemus National Historic Site, KS

What was once known as the “promised land” of Kansas, a place of freedom, the Nicodemus National Historic Site is the last African American settlement during the Reconstruction period west of the Mississippi River; A representation of the African American involvement in the westward expansion.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, MD

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, MD

To commemorate the great abolitionist and the woman best known as “Moses of her people”, this National Monument recognizes Harriet Tubman’s bravery and contribution in leading almost 70 enslaved people to their freedom. The memorial and the surrounding lands tell the story of Tubman’s heroic life.

George Washington Carver National Monument, MO

George Washington Carver National Monument, MO

George Washington Carver National Monument is the birthplace and childhood home of the famed scientist, educator and humanitarian. Established in 1943, it is the first unit of the National Park Service dedicated to an African American.

The young child known as the “Plant Doctor” tended his secret garden while observing the day-to-day operations of a 19th century farm. Nature and nurture ultimately influenced George on his quest for education to becoming a renowned agricultural scientist, educator, and humanitarian.

Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, DC

Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, DC

Carter G. Woodson passed away in his “office-home” on April 3, 1950 at the age of 74. The nation recognized his achievements in 1976 when his home was declared a National Historic Landmark, in 2003 when an act of Congress named his home a National Historic Site, and in 2006 when the Carter G. Woodson Home became the 389th unit of the National Park System

Carter G. Woodson’s best-known contribution occurs every February. He initiated the celebration of the first “Negro History Week” in 1926, focusing on black history. Over the years, support grew, and in 1976, the celebration was extended to an entire month, now called “Black History Month.”

Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site, KS

Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site, KS

Plan a trip to Topeka, KS and learn about the leading fight that led to the desegregation of our education institutions. This historic site was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement that helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” education and other services were not, in fact, equal at all.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, AL

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, AL

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, commemorates the contributions of African-American airmen in World War II. Before 1940, African Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil rights organizations and the black press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. The Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, LA

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, LA

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is located in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, near the French Quarter. It was created in 1994 to celebrate the origins and evolution of jazz.

Most of the historical park property consists of 4 acres within Louis Armstrong Park leased by the National Park Service. There is a visitor center at 916 North Peters Street and a concert venue, several blocks away in the French Quarter. The Park provides a setting for sharing the cultural history of the people and places which helped to shape the development and progression of jazz in New Orleans.

Booker T Washington National Monument, VA

Booker T Washington National Monument, VA

The Booker T. Washington National Monument is a National Monument near Hardy, Franklin County, Virginia. It preserves portions of the 207-acre tobacco farm on which educator and leader Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856. It provides interpretation of Washington’s life and achievements, as well as interpretation of 1850s slavery and farming through the use of buildings, gardens, crafts and animals.

Pullman National Monument, IL

Pullman National Monument, IL

Pullman National Monument, also known as The Pullman District and Pullman Historic District, is located in Chicago, Illinois. It was the first model, planned industrial community in the United States. The district is significant for its historical origins in the Pullman Company, one of the most famous company towns in the United States, and scene of the violent 1894 Pullman strike.

President Barack Obama designated Pullman as a National Monument on February 19, 2015. It became the first unit of the National Park Service in Chicago.

 

Images: National Park Service