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Black Heritage Travel: Mid-Atlantic United States
"Been There!" = Personal notes about places I've visited.

 Delaware Maryland Virginia  Washington D.C.  Home Additional Resources

Delaware

Delaware's Historic Markers Program - State of Delaware Public Archives

Many sites of African American historical interest are included...in fact, they seem to have their own designation as the "Freedom Trail." However, I'm still trying to locate a listing or guide which singles these out and places them geographically. Meanwhile, if you go to the link and search for "African American" it will return 21 hits/markers, which you can then "group by location."

Visit Delaware - Official Site of the Delaware Tourism Office

Events calendar, lodging, dining, shopping and more.

Dover - Delaware State University

In 1891, the state of Delaware passed "An Act to establish and Maintain a College for the Education of Colored Students in Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts" as stipulated in the Second Morrill Act of Congress in 1890. In 1947 the state changed the school's name to Delaware State College followed with a change to University status in 1993. Since its founding, Delaware State University had developed into a 400-acre complex. Loockerman Hall (donated by a former slave holder) is an 18th century manor house and the first building used at historic Delaware State University in 1891. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The link above takes you to campus tour information, including local lodging. The university also offers a graduate program in Historic Preservation.

Dover - John Dickinson Plantation

Upon his father's death in 1790, John Dickinson inherited his father's land and slaves. Inspired by Quaker teachings, he conditionally freed his slaves in 1777 and in 1785 - two years before signing the US Constitution - he freed them unconditionally. Many remained on the plantation, living and working as hired hands. Today the site is living history museum owned by the State of Delaware, offering tours and programs interpretting the life, arts and politics of Dickinson's era. The website offers detailed historical and biograpical information called "Homework Help."

Dover - Star Hill Museum/AME Church 357 Voshell Mill-Star Hill Rd, Dover, 19901 (302) 697-9903 (302) 697-1576

Exhibits about slave life and African-American history contained in original 1842 Star of the Sea Church, once an Underground Railroad station where slaves were hidden. Star Hill African Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1863. Open by appointment.

Dover - State House Museum

Restored to its 1792 appearance, this museum highlights information about Delaware's development during the early years of the Republic. Tours include Governing A Changing Society (adults/students grades 4-12; 30 minutes) which interprets the political, economic, and social atmosphere affecting Kent County's African American population during the 1700s.

New Castle - The New Castle Court House Museum

The museum hosts an exhibit entitled "Flight to Freedom" and offers well-documented tours highlighting Underground Railroad activities including information about slave catchers, bounty hunters, abolitionists, Federal and State laws, trials and speeches. The Federal District Court Trials of Thomas Garrett and John Hunn, well-known regional abolitionists and stationmasters occurred at this site in 1848.

Wilmington - Afro-American Historical Society of Delaware 512 E. Fourth St. Wilmington, 19801 (302) 571-1699

Focusing on the presentation of African-American heritage with special emphasis on Delaware. Sponsors educational programs, conducts tours and lectures, and operates nearby gallery (by appt.) and gift shop.

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Washington D.C.

African American Heritage Trail Cultural Tourism DC

Make this your first stop! This is an online database and free guide to information about over 200 important African American history sites in D.C. The sites are divided according to 19 neighborhoods. You can pick up the guide free at the various locations listed, or order one ($5 included shipping and handling) from the website.

The Cultural Tourism DC site also has information about guided tours which are available for private bookings. They include Different Voices, Different Views - A Cultural Tourism DC Bus Tour of Historic Anacostia and Duke Ellington's DC.

In addition to a brief history of African Americans in DC, this rich website has visitor and travel planning information such as lodging, dining, shopping, and more.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial - The memorial was planned to be dedicated August 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of the groundbreaking March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. However, due to the threat of Hurricane Irene, though the memorial was opened in August, the formal dedication was moved to Sunday October 16, 2011.

BuildTheDream.org

This is the official web site of the team that brought the memorial from dream to reality. Learn more about the history of the memorial, programs, events and other resources. You can also still make a donation.

MLK Jr. National Memorial - National Park Service - Directions, visitor information and more.

Before Harlem, There Was U Street - Washington Walks
Also download: Greater U Street Historic District Brochure (from the District of Columbia Office of Planning)

"Take a walk along U Street - Washington's "Black Broadway" - where Duke Ellington grew up and was inspired, where musical greats such as Cab Calloway and Dizzy Gillespie played local clubs into the wee hours of the morning, and where movie palaces mingled with pool halls, restaurants and barber shops. Here in the shadow of Howard University, African Americans created a strong community that produced leaders for the city and the nation. You'll see the Lincoln Theatre, a 1922 movie palace, restored to its gilded glory; the Thurgood Marshall Center, a grand historic building that once housed the first full-service African American YMCA; and The African American Civil War Memorial, the only national monument to Black Civil War soldiers. (Sponsored by Washington Walks and Cultural Tourism DC)" Approximately 2 hours.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

OPENED SEPTEMER 24, 2016!!! Visit their content-rich website, plan your trip, or just celebrate by watching opening ceremonies online. I hope to visit in Fall 2017, and when I do I'll write a full report, so check back!

African American Civil War Memorial Museum

"In January 1999, the Civil War Memorial Museum opened to the public. Using photographs, documents and state of the art audio visual equipment, the museum helps visitors understand the African American's heroic and largely unknown struggle for freedom. The museum is located two blocks west of the African American Civil War Memorial in the historic Shaw neighborhood. To assist visitors, researchers, and descendants of USCT, the Museum also offers important educational and research tools."

Anacostia Museum & Center for African American History & Culture - Smithsonian

The Museum explores American history, society, and creative expression from an African American perspective. In addition to visitor information, exhibition and event schedules, explore the On-Line Academy to learn more about collecting and preserving artifacts. They also connect to other related Smithsonian resource websites.

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site - National Park Service

The Bethune Council House was Mary McLeod Bethune's last official Washington, DC residence and the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women. The site features the three story Victorian town house and a carriage house in which the National Archives for Black Women's History is located.

Walk in visitors are welcome. Groups of 10 or more must make an appointment. Tours are available for both individuals and groups of all ages. Visitors to the Bethune Council House will see original furnishings and historic photographs depicting the Council House during the 1940's when it was Mary McLeod Bethune's Washington, DC residence and the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women. The website has everything you need to plan your visit, plus biographical information, educational resources, a newsletter you can download, and much more.


Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

"From 1877 to 1895, this was the home of Frederick Douglass, the Nation's leading 19th-century African American spokesman. Visitors to the site will learn more about his efforts to abolish slavery and his struggle for Human Rights, Equal Rights and Civil Rights for all oppressed people."

(As of March 2006) "all of the artifacts within the Frederick Douglass home are in storage due to ongoing repair work. Park rangers continue to lead tours of the empty Douglass home. While this is certainly a different type of tour, rangers are still relating the important stories about Frederick Douglass. " The website provides historical background, activities, travel and visitor information. It also links to an online exhibit of items from Mr. Douglass's life.

Howard University Gallery of Art - Howard University

The African American art collection, established in 1928 includes works by Henry O. Tanner, Edmonia Lewis, Archibald Motley, Romare Bearden, and many others. The gallery offers rotating exhibitions of national and international artists, augmented with selections from the permanent collection. You'll find information about present and past exhibits at the website.

Lincoln Memorial

The familiar backdrop of the March on Washington, and the site of Marian Anderson's concert when the DAR denied her access to Constitution Hall. Park Rangers present several interpretive talks at the memorial upon request.

National Museum of African Art

Learn about the collection and exhibitions, educational programs, visitor information and more. Also virtual tours of the galleries.

National Museum of American History - Smithsonian

Opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology, the museum offers exhibits and programs highlighting African American history and culture. Two permanent exhibits are Field to Factory, documenting northern migration between 1915 and 1940, and Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington . An exhibition currently in development is called Hip Hop Won't Stop. This rich website has visitor information and a wealth of educational resources.

Alexandria VA - Black History Museum

"In 1939, a sit-down strike was staged by five young African- American men in the city's segregated Queen Street Library. The young men were arrested for their act of civil disobedience but the City responded to the African-American citizens demands for more access to educational opportunities. As a result, the City built the Robert Robinson Library in 1940. This segregated library for African-Americans was used until desegregation in the early 1960s. After desegregation, the building was used for various community service programs. Today, the Robert Robinson Library forms an integral part of the Alexandria Black History Museum." This rich site provides visitor information and many online resources.

Alexandria VA- African American Heritage Park

This park surrounds a preserved19th century African American cemetery. Of 21 burials on this site, six identified headstones remain and are in their original location. The park also includes sculptures celebrating African American contributions to the development of the city.

Alexandria VA - Gum Springs Museum & Cultural Center

This black community in Fairfax County was founded by patriarchal freedman West Ford, a former slave of George Washington's family, who acquired the property in 1833. Gum Springs became a place for "runaways" and recently freed slaves to live. The museum is relatively young (1996) and growing, but has many exciting projects in the works.

Arlington The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington

Currently a "museum-without-walls," (though a physical museum is in the works) the BHMA celebrates the African American journey to freedom in Arlington County. At the heart of the BHMA mission is the story of Freedmen's Village. To date, the museum board has commissioned a model of the village, which is now part of a cosponsored exhibit on slave life at Arlington House. The Board also sponsors a lecture series, an oral history program, and a walking tour brochure you can download at the site.

Mt Vernon, VA - George Washington's Estate & Gardens

Visit the Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, George Washington Museum, Archaeology and Restoration Museum, Slave Memorial, and Washington's tomb. The Education Center features The Dilemma of Slavery Gallery, with a History Channel video focusing on Washington and slavery. This rich website has a virtual tour and many educational resources, including articles and lesson plans. Just use the SEARCH for keyword "slave" to find hundreds of references.

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Additional Resources

Virginia Landmarks of Black History: Sites on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places . Calder Loth, Editor. University Press of Virginia, 1995. Order at Amazon.com

The sixty-four sites described in this book are a testament to the contribution African Americans have made to Virginia history over the last four centuries. They include Virginia's three most important surviving slave quarter complexes, the site of Nat Turner's rebellion, and the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, as well as Monticello and Mount Vernon, both largely built by African-American hands.

African American Heritage Trail Cultural Tourism DC

Free guide to information about over 200 important African American history sites in D.C. The sites are divided according to 19 neighborhoods. You can pick up the guide free at the various locations listed, or order one ($5 included shipping and handling) from the website.

Guide to Black Washington: Places and Events of Historic and Cultural Significance in the Nation's Capital. (Revised Edition) Sandra Fitzpatrick, Maria R. Goodwin. Hippocrene Books, 2001. Order at Amazon.com

This revised and updated edition of the popular guide includes new maps, entries and places of interest, with details about over 150 sites and institutions that have shaped black history and traditions, both in the nation's capital and throughout the country. Paperback 240 pages 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 W. 16 pages b/w photos.

Black Heritage Sites: The South. Nancy C. Curtis. New Press 1998 Order at Amazon.com

This volume includes descriptions and detailed visitor information for hundreds of places of national and local significance, from churches and schools to battlefields and cemeteries, from stops on the Underground Railroad to landmarks of the 1950s civil rights movement. Black Heritage Sites is perfect for travelers and historians of all kinds--from the family planning a cross-country trip to the armchair traveler interested in gaining a unique perspective on African American history.

African American Historic Places. Savage, Beth L. Wiley, 2005 Order at Amazon.com

Features 800 sites on the National Historic Register which relate to African American History. Organized by 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Because it is designed as an identification tool rather than as a trip planner, the book lists only addresses and does not note telephone numbers, access policies, or admission charges. The introduction, however, notes that approximately three-fourths of the properties are privately owned and not open to the public. Black-and-white photographs are provided for some of the sites, and eight introductory essays provide context for understanding the historical significance of the sites.

A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement. Jim Carrier. Harcourt Books, 2004. Order at Amazon.com

This book is fascinating even if you never leave home. It's both a travel guide and a reference for anyone wanting to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not limited to modern times; like many historians, the author takes the view that the struggle for civil rights began the moment the first enslaved African set foot on these shores and tried to break free. And it continued anywhere that people fought for dignity and equality. Consequently, the sites described here include sites of slave rebellions, legal battles, Underground Railroad safe houses, historically black colleges, churches, museums...even the minor league stadium in Florida where Jackie Robinson broke through the color line.

Historic Landmarks of Black America. Canter, George. Gale Group, 1991. Order at Amazon.com

Describes over 300 sites across the US and Canada, with entries ranging from a paragraph to several pages, with lots of illustrations. Each includes a historical sketch detailing the site's significance and practical information such as directions, hours, fees, and related sites....which of course you'd want to doublecheck before traveling! This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available cheap through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

In Their Footsteps: The American Visions Guide to African-American Historical Sites. Chase, Henry. Owlet, 1994. Order at Amazon.com

Similar to Canter's Historic Landmarks, but more comprehensive covering 46 states, Ontario and Nova Scotia. This book is out of print (and out of date) but still useful and available through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

Hippocrene U.S.A. Guide to Historic Black South: Historical Sites, Cultural Centers, and Musical Happenings of the African-American South . James Haskins & Joann Biondi. Hippocrene Books 1993. Order at Amazon.com

Covers a region of nine Southern states and the District of Columbia, pointing out churches, gravesites, historic locations, nightclubs, museums, art galleries, schools, markets, and jazz and blues landmarks. We venture to Jackie Robinson Baseball Park in Daytona Beach, Florida, for example, where Robinson played his first major league game, and to the Alex Haley Home and Museum in Henning, Tennessee. Each chapter includes a brief section on the history of that state and then lists sites in the various cities.

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