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Black Heritage Travel: South Central United States
"Been There!" = Notes about places I've visited.

Arkansas Kansas Kentucky Louisiana   Mississippi
Missouri Oklahoma Tennessee Additional Resources Travel Home  

 

Arkansas

Heritage and Civil Rights Pathways - Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The first clear record of African-Americans in Arkansas is from 1721, more than a hundred years before statehood. This site presents a brief historical overview, plus information about traveling to 17 historic sites and 6 African American oriented museums. You can also download a beautiful and comprehensive travel brochure which introduces the inductees to The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, a detailed timeline and travel intinerary covering the Civil Rights Movement plus places of cultural, political and artistic significance. The brochure also briefly highlights sites in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

Arkansas African American Heritage Tour - Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Designed to assist group tour leaders, this is a detailed, six-day travel itinerary which includes links to each of the visited sites and/or events. Many of those links include lodging, dining and other information.

Little Rock - Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

The mission of this site is to interpret the story of the Little Rock desegregation crisis. Both guided tours and self-guided walking tours are available through the Visitor's Center. This rich website includes a history of African American education in Arkansas, Civil Rights history, a timeline and much more. They hope to have a new Visitor Center in 2007.

Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee Arkansas History Commission & State Archives

The Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee is composed of seven persons appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Senate. Their mission is to collect black historical materials for the Arkansas History Commission; to encourage research in Arkansas black history; and to cooperate with the Arkansas Department of Education in the development of African American historical materials for use in public schools. You'll find more information about these resources at the site.

 

Kansas

Kansas State Historical Society

By using the Search tool you'll find articles and links to and about African American heritage in Kansas. There is also quite a bit of information related to Bleeding Kansas, the battle between Free-Staters and Pro-Slavery supporters.

Baldwin City (3 miles east) - Black Jack Battlefield

Site of the June 2, 1856 battle between John Brown and the Free-State militia and Pro-Slaverly militia of Henry C. Pate. It is regarded by many as the first battle of the Civil War. In 2003, a trust was formed to preserve this historic site before it succumbs to development. A dedicated group of individuals is working to have the park ready to be dedicated on June 2, 2006, the 150th anniversary of the Battle.

Coffeyville - Votaw Colony Museum

The mission is to reconnect descendents of the Exodusters who settled here after the Civil War in search of a better life, and to gather the experiences and stories of ex-slaves and freedmen who built the colony. You can read about this history of the colony, and keep apprised of events at the website.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

"During the Civil War , Kansas was the first state to officially recruit and train military units comprised of black soldiers. Between July 1862 and October 1863, the 1st and 2nd Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiments were recruited in eastern Kansas and mustered into the Union Army at Fort Scott" This rich website provides much historical background information on African American soldiers, plus links to related sites. You'll also find local visitor and travel information.

Leavenworth Area Chamber of Commerce

In addition to lodging, dining and shopping information, you'll find visitor information for several related attractions of interest here, including:

Richard Allen Cultural Center of Bethel A.M.E. Church - The museum's mission and purpose is to educate the public about the rich history of African-Americans and their contributions to every phase of American life.  

Buffalo Soldier Monument - The monument project was initiated by General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth. (A picture I.D. is required to enter Ft. Leavenworth.)interviews are available at the Kansas City Public Library upon request.

Nicodemus National Historic Site - National Park Service

Established in 1877, Nicodemus is the only remaining town west of the Mississippi River founded and settled by African Americans at the end of Reconstruction. The National Historic Site, located in Nicodemus, consists of 5 historic structures: A.M.E Church, First Baptist Church, Nicodemus School, Fletcher Hotel and Township Hall. A Visitor Center is located in the Township Hall, where park rangers, orientation videos, and book sales enrich the visitor experience.

Osawatomie - John Brown Museum State Historic Site

"Witness pioneer life where Reverend Samuel and Florella Adair struggled to survive on the Kansas frontier while maintaining their Abolitionist principles. The Kansas career of Florella's legendary half brother, John Brown, and his Abolitionist efforts are featured in an exhibit gallery. Here John earned the name "Osawatomie Brown" as he fought for the free-state cause." At this website, you can learn the basic story of "Bleeding Kansas" find online exhibits and plan a visit or tour.

Quindaro, Kansas on the Underground Railroad

Website includes historical documents, newspaper articles, photographs, art, and a virtual tour of Quindaro and Western University. A slide show and video

Topeka - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

"The site consists of the Monroe Elementary School, one of the four segregated elementary schools for African American children in Topeka, and the adjacent grounds. " This rich website includes historical background and links, news and events, and visitor information.

Wichita - Kansas African American Museum

Housed in the Old Calvary Baptist Church (1917) this regional arts and cultural museum is dedicated to the education, identification, acquisition, research, collection, exhibition, presentation and preservation of visual art forms, artists, programs and documents reflective of African American life and culture. The website provides visitor and contact information, as well as updated information on exhibits and special programs.

Kentucky

Kentucky African American Heritage - Kentucky Department of Tourism

This page provides a brief history , with related link that help you explore Kentucky African American History, research your anscestors, find local Juneteenth celebrations and more. But unfortunately, it also keeps moving around! So start at the Home page, click on THINGS TO DO and then select "African American."

Black History Links - Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

This comprehensive collection of online resources for Kentucky African American history includes historical places, a guide to highway markers, biographies, timelines, links to related Kentucky Educational TV programming, Underground Railroad links, historical documents, census data, genealogical data and more.

Is Kentucky's state song, "My Old Kentucky Home," a commentary against slavery? Read more at Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives

At Leisure's Edge: A Journey Through Kentucky's Historic Black Parks

During segregation, Kentucky had 2 park systems. Three of the "colored" parks (Douglas, Chickasaw and Stuart Nelson) still exist today. This video documentary was produced for broadcast on Kentucky Educational TV. At the website you can view the trailer, read the script, and learn more about the parks.

Been There! Berea - Berea College

Berea College, founded in 1855, was the first interracial and co-educational college in the South. One of Berea's most famous graduates was Carter G. Woodson, known as the "Father of Black History." This site provide's Berea's history, a timeline, maps and tours, photos, oral histories, and even lesson plans.

Located where the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains slope downward to meet the central plains of Kentucky's bluegrass, Berea College is a beautiful campus in a beautiful region. My favorite times to visit are spring and fall. Be sure to take a student-led historical tour and be doubly sure to have lunch (or stay!) at the historic Boone Tavern Inn, which is staffed primarily by Berea students. You'll also want to visit the Log House Craft Gallery to view and purchase student work. The crafts program at Berea College was started back in the 19th Century as a way not only for students to earn money, and also to keep mountain crafts alive.

Lexington - African American Heritage In the Bluegrass Lexington Convention and Visitor's Bureau

A walking tour of 10 sites. You can download the brochure as a pdf. The site also includes lodging, dining and event information.

Maysville - National Underground Railroad Museum

Located in the Bierbower House, a documented safe house in Maysville. View original kitchen and slave quarters where fugitive slaves were hidden under false floors. You can also obtain a Self Guided Tour of Mason County's Historic Underground Railroad brochure from Maysville-Mason County Tourism Commission by calling 606-564-9419 Ext. 332.

Louisiana

Textures: Louisiana's African American Directory - Louisiana Office of Tourism

"Discover the culinary delights of local chefs. Learn all about the colorful Mardi Gras Indians. Call on Melrose, a plantation once owned by a freed slave. Explore Laura Plantation, where you'll learn how West African slaves brought the Bre'r Rabbit stories to America. And stroll the grounds of Destrehan Plantation, home to a successful Freedmen's Bureau Colony during Reconstruction. Louisiana has been the birthplace of many famous African Americans. Come celebrate achievements of African Americans in art, architecture, law, education, sports, the culinary arts and more. We invite you to wander through exhibits in the Cabildo and U.S. Mint. Give your kids something to think about at the River Road African-American Museum near Burnside, the Kent Plantation House in Alexandria or the African American Museum in Shreveport. The Hermione Museum in Tallulah includes an exhibit on Madam C.J. Walker, the first black self-made millionaire in the U.S. For a free copy of Textures, the official African American travel guide to Louisiana, call (800) 753-6194."

Donaldson - River Road African American Museum

Dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting art, artifacts and buildings related to the history and culture of African Americans in the rural communities along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. They offer both museum tours, and walking tours of the area. You can also take a mini-tour of their exhibits online, which include Free People of Color, Influences on Cuisine, Rural Roots of Jazz, River Road Black Doctors and much more.

Cane River National Heritage Area

"Cane River National Heritage Area in northwestern Louisiana is a largely rural, agricultural landscape known for its historic plantations, its distinctive Creole architecture, and its multi-cultural legacy. Historically this region lay at the intersection of French and Spanish realms in the New World. It is a place where many cultures came together to create a way of life dependent on the land, the river, and each other. Today it is home to a unique blend of cultures, including French, Spanish, African, American Indian, and Creole." This website provides contact information for travel and tours for the public sites which include Melrose Plantation, Oakland Plantation, Fort St. Jean Baptiste, Los Adaes, and Fort Jesup State Historic Sites.

Laura: A Creole Plantation (On the Great River Road, just outside New Orleans) 1588340961

According to the book Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums by Jennifer L. Eichstedt and Stephen Small, most plantation museums commemorate and celebrate the lives of enslavers, with no mention of the African Americans who built and sustained that life. They say this plantation is one of very few to provide an integrated approach, and their website provides ample evidence of this.

Melrose Plantation

"The Melrose story begins with Marie Therese Coincoin, a slave born in 1742. Eventually she was sold to a Frenchmen, Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, in time Metoyer freed Marie Therese and ten Franco-African children. Evidence points to Metoyer as the Father of these children. Marie Therese and son Louis Metoyer received large grants of land including the present Melrose plantation. Marie Therese and her sons would eventually build Yucca House (c.1796) the colonial residence, African House (c.1800) slave-fort and provision house, Big House (c.1833). Early Louisiana plantation home. Marie Therese and her children purchased slaves to help in clearing the land, and cultivating indigo, tobacco, corn, cotton, and raising cattle. Marie Therese would see her children and grandchildren live prosperous lives, owners of thousands of acres of land and numerous slaves. "

New Orleans Online - New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation

A rich site showcasing the multicultural history and heritage of the city. In addition to lodging, shopping and dining information, they regularly update the post-Katrina status of the area's many museums and historical sites. You can also learn more about the diverse heritages of the people, learn about New Orleans architectural styles,

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

The park provides an ideal setting to share the cultural history of the people and places that helped shape the development and progression of jazz in New Orleans. At this rich website you'll find jazz history, biographies news of events and interpretive programs, and some dazzling photos.

Been There! Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve - Park Headquarters: New Orleans

The park consists of six physically separate sites and a park headquarters located in southeastern Louisiana. At 419 Decatur Street in the historic French Quarter is the park's visitor center for New Orleans. This center interprets the history of New Orleans and the diverse cultures of Louisiana's Mississippi Delta region. The Park Headquarters is located in New Orleans. I highly recommend the French Quarter tour, followed by a lunch or dinner of red beans and rice at Maspero's at 440 Chartres Street. But be sure to check with New Orleans Online for the latest information as many establishments are still closed after Hurricane Katrina.

 

Mississippi

African American Heritage Tour - Mississippi Tourism and Travel Guide

"This tour will take you to historic churches, museums, universities, homes and cemeteries. There you may examine and explore the accomplishments of those who, despite oppressive times, prevailed and prospered. " Website includes a history of African Americans in Mississippi, a timeline and a 5-day itinerary which includes stops at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarkesdale, the Oakes African American Cultural Center in Yazoo, and Alcorn State University founded in 1871 as the first land-grant college for blacks. Within this site you'll also find Civil Rights sites, and a search of their database yields 153 African-American Attractions. To search, go here then scroll down to the Category and select African American.

Natchez National Historical Park

The Park is made up of three units, which includes The William Johnson House, owned by a free African American businessman, whose diary tells the story of everyday life in antebellum Natchez. At the website you'll find visitor information, interpretive programs, special events, news and area attractions.

Black Mississippi.com

This link takes you to the Attractions page of the site, which includes museums, historic sites as well as churches and contemporary businesses. You'll also find events, entertainment, education resources and much more. As the logo says, it's the best of Mississippi!

Jacksonville - International Museum of Muslim Cultures

The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is dedicated to educating the public about Islamic History and Culture.

The Museum also celebrates the contributions Muslims have made to the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, the region, the nation, and the world. In educating the public about the diversity of the area's cultural and religious heritage, the Museum describes the Muslim experience and places it in context with other cultural and religious groups. The Museum strives to facilitate multicultural and interfaith tolerance, reducing religious and racial bigotry and advancing religious and civic dialogue.

Exhibits include The Legacy of Timbuktu; Wonders of the Written World. Visit their website for an exhibition schedule and visitor information.

Missouri

Black Historic Places Historic Preservation Program

Hundreds of significant historic sites associated with Missouri's African American heritage have been identified by the Historic Preservation Program. The ones on this list are open to the public.

VisitMO.com - The Official Missouri Tourism Site

Use the keywords "African American" on the home page Quick Search to find a list of attractions and events, including the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum, the Black Archives of Mid-America, and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Missouri Civil Rights Museum. The site also provides lodging, dining and regional maps/info.

Diamond - George Washington Carver National Monument

"George Washington Carver's boyhood home consists of rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies. The 210 acre park has a 3/4 mile nature trail, museum, and an interactive exhibit area for students. The cultural setting includes the 1881 Historic Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery. " The website provides visitor information, historical information and more.

Independence - Black History in Independence - Road & Travel Magazine

This article features historic sites and current day attractions.

Been There!
Independence - National Frontier Trails Museum

Of the estimated 250,000 people who ventured West during the California Gold Rush, about 5000 were African Americans. Though a proportionately small number, I'm sure it is 5000 more than the average American pictures when they imagine pioneers undertaking that grueling journey which left many dead on the trailside.

So I took great pleasure in discovering this exhibit at the National Frontier Trails Museum. It spotlights original letters to David Brown from his wife Rachel who'd stayed behind in Ohio. Brown was a free black man who followed the California trail with a dream of striking it rich. I could hardly bare to read the letters, so full of loneliness coupled with hope that they'd one day be reunited. They never were.

It's crucial to our understanding of American history that the experiences of African Americans be integrated as seamlessly as this.

Kansas City - Guide to African American Attractions & Special Events - Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association

Published annually as supplement to the visitor's guide, Goin' to Kansas City. You can request it by emailing info@visitkc.com or by phone 1-800-767-7700

Been There! Kansas City - American Jazz Museum

The mission of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through research, exhibition, education, and performance at one of the country's jazz crossroads - 18th and Vine. It is home to one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of film footage pertaining to jazz...over 5,000 titles! The American Jazz Museum's Blue Room is a museum by day and at night comes to life as a working jazz club. Four nights a week, the Blue Room resonates with the sweet sounds of Kansas City jazz. The Blue Room has been recognized by Downbeat Magazine as one of the top 100 Jazz Club's in the World. It is part of the museum complex shared with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The exhibits are interactive and encourage you to improvise as you move through them...it's like nothing I've experienced elsewhere and I wish I'd allotted more time.

Been There!
Kansas City -
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Founded in 1990, The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of African American baseball. On your tour you'll experience multi-media displays, artifacts, photos and more dating from the late 1800's to the 1960's. It's permanent, 10,000 square foot facility is part of the museum complex shared with the American Jazz Museum.

The orientation film was very moving, and I wasn't the only one who had tears in my eyes when it ended. A grade school class was in attendance, and I was impressed that they were all asking their teacher questions as they filed out the door...obviously, the film had "connected" even though they were too young to know much history. The main exhibit weaves through time, placing the sport within the context of American history, through slavery, Jim Crow, and into modern times. I had an "I never knew that!" experience around every corner. (Like I didn't realize that during my dad's childhood, Crosley Field in Cincinnati was rented to the Negro Leagues for exhibition games.) Amazing film footage brings the oldtimers to life and by the time you enter the ball diamond peopled with life-size bronze sculptures of The Greats like Buck O'Neil, you'll feel like they're old friends.

As I was leaving, I asked the security guard to name the best BBQ place in town. He laughed and said "That's the kind of question guaranteed to start a fight in Kansas City!"

Kansas City - Black Archives of Mid-America Inc

One of the largest Midwestern collections of African-American memorabilia, artifacts and research material on local leaders, oral histories and business records in the the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. At the website, you can browse their galleries, search their database, or find information to help you plan a visit.

Kansas City - Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center

"This living museum stands in tribute to the legacy of Kansas City's early African-American pioneers, and embodies the artistic, cultural and social history of the African American experience." The center is named in honor of Bruce R. Watkins, a political and social activist " It houses a library a hall of fame, and exhibit galleries. This website provides background and visitor information.

Been There!
Kansas City (Johnson County, Kansas) -
Johnson County Museums

One of the best things about traveling is a serendipitous discovery. We made a side trip to Johnson County to tour the "All-Electric House," a model created by Kansas City Power and Light in the early 1950's to showcase the future of home technology. It just happened to have been built the year I was born, and I wanted to see what the future looked like back then!

I figured it for a 30-minute stop, but then discovered their wonderful Museum of History adjacent. It would be easy to dismiss a "suburb" as lacking history, but this little spot of earth was involved in everything from the Border Wars to the Civil Rights Movement (all in a very local, personal way) and we two history buffs found ourselves looking through a local lens at aspects of American and African American history we'd never before considered. The exhibits were thought-provoking and exceptionally well done, exceeding many at larger, more affluent institutions.

This is a highly recommended stop, but plan 2 hours if you want to do it justice.

St. Joseph - Black Archives of St. Joseph: A Member Museum of the St. Joseph Museums Inc

The Black Archives of St. Joseph recently reopened at its new location at 3406 Frederick. Exhibits have expanded to include integration as well as education, music, the Underground Railroad and other aspects of African American history in St. Joseph. Hours and admission fee are shared by 2 other museums in the same building: The Glore Psychiatric Museum and the St. Joseph Museum.

St. Louis - The African-American Heritage of St. Louis: A Guide

This guide includes forty-six selected sites with religious, educational, artistic, and/or cultural significance. Most of the sites are in the City of St. Louis. A few others are in St. Louis County. The guide also contains lists of streets and St. Louis public schools named for African Americans.

Been There! The Old Courthouse: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial - St. Louis

The Old Courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850. You can tour the exhibits online, or learn more about events, activities, and visiting in person.

The Dred Scott Decision is one piece of African American history every schoolchild learns. As I explored the exhibits here, I couldn't help but feel that I had time travelled into the past. Some of the exhibits included audio histories, and as the voices boomed through the empty building, suddenly the case was no longer just dry words in a text book...I was walking on the actual floors where the participants had walked, and I could feel their ghosts. I wish at the time I had known about The African-American Heritage of St. Louis: A Guide, as I would have definitely visited a few more sites. Arkansas

Oklahoma

Boley - Boley Historical Museum, 10 W Grant St, Boley, OK Phone: 918-667-9790

This home built in 1929 is now a museum and contains many artifacts of Boley's early days as a black town in Oklahoma. Tours available.

Boley is one of the more than 50 "all black towns" founded in Oklahoma during the mass migration of blacks from the South after the Civil War.

El Reno - Historic Fort Reno

This military post established in 1874 was home to the Buffalo Soliders. The website offers a virtual tour, historic photos, events listing and more.

Enid - Southern Heights Heritage Center and Museum

Housed in the Antioch Church of God in Christ building, the center plays tribute to black culture and its links to Enid and northwest Oklahoma by collecting, maintaining, preserving and displaying memorabilia and artifacts. Exhibits include the history, heritage and memorabilia of the Ethnic Native Americans, African American-Black Indians and Indian Freedman of the Five Civilized Tribes, land rush, pioneers and descendants. Special exhibits highlight international opera sensation Leona Mitchell, genealogy materials and family history displays, African American churches, Booker T. Washington and the Carver School Experience, African sculpture and 3D mixed media art, and a history of the journey from Africa to the Americas. A reading and media center, and children's learning and resource center is also on site.

Langston - Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center at Langston University

John Mercer Langston (1829 - 1897) was the first African American member of Congress elected from Virginia and founder of Howard University Law School. Langston University is a historically black college named in his honor. The Black Heritage Center is named for Melvin B. Tolson (1898-1966) - now famously portrayed in the film The Great Debaters - the poet, dramatist and English teacher who taught at Langston for 17 years and also served as the town of Langston's mayor from 1954 - 1960.

The Black Heritage Center holds African-American art, books, records and is the state's only resource center for the study of African and African-American history.

Muskogee - Multicultural Tourism

Want to take a tour of Black Towns? Attend the Black Rodeo, or the Oklahoma Landmark Conference that celebrates African-American history and heritage in Oklahoma? Start at the City of Muskogee's website, where you'll find all sorts of usual visitor and travel information.

Oklahoma City - Black Liberated Arts Center

"The mission of BLAC, Inc. is to use the vehicle of fine arts to provide the total community of Oklahoma with an exposure to the African, African-American/Black culture with a special emphasis on educating Oklahoma's youth. " Find an events schedule at their website.

Oklahoma City - Oklahoma Historical Society

The Society offers the online Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture which provides dozens of articles on various aspects of black history in the state.

It also maintains the Oklahoma History Center which hosts special exhibits, sometimes about African American heritage.

Rentiesville - Honey Springs Battlefield

The battle of Honey Springs, July 17, 1863, involved the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, the first black regiment in the Union army. Some of those black soldiers went on to help found Rentiesville (birthplace of historian John Hope Franklin.) You'll find a wealth of historical and visitor information at the website.

Tulsa - Tulsa City-County Library African American Resource Center (located at the Rudisill Regional Library)

The African-American Resource Center collects, preserves and provides access to resources honoring and documenting the experiences of people of African descent. In addition to reference materials they provide exhibits, events, and educational materials for teachers. As the only center of its kind in Oklahoma, their services have attracted visitors throughout the nation. Individual and group tours of the center's collection and special features are available by appointment.

Tulsa - Greenwood Cultural Center

The intersection of Greenwood and Archer Streets was the "Black Wall Street" of Tulsa, a prosperous middle class area. Too prosperous for white Tulsans who, with the help of the local militia, destroyed 35 square blocks in what came to be known as the "Tulsa Race Riots." This story is retold at the Greenwood Cultural Center's website.

Tulsa - Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Created in 1988, their theme is "Creating Unity Through Music." At their website you'll find visitor information, events and classes...you can even view jazz videos online.

Tennessee

Tennessee Vacation: African American Heritage - Tennessee Tourism Department

Information and links to over 150 historic sites, museums and businesses. A sample entry: "A.Schwab Dry Goods Store is the oldest family-owned and-operated general store in Memphis and the Mid-South. Started in 1876. Currently three generations work in the store. A. Schwab Dry Goods Store has been operating since 1876, supplying Memphians and guests with everything from $.99 neckties to voodoo potions." To help you plan your itinerary, you can filter the results by region. The site also includes maps, dining and lodging resources. Travel planners will also appreciate the African American Heritage Tour From Jonesborough to Memphis.

Bradley - Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center

Built in 1917 as a school for African Americans, the museum features a restored classroom, and several permanent exhibits including From African Warriors to Civil War Soldiers and Pillars and Foundations: Building Murfreesboro's African-American Community.

Chattanooga - African American Museum/Bessie Smith Hall

The museum is a source of curricula, historical references, creative works and media about the African American experience. Learn more about their unique collection of multi-media presentations, rare artifacts, African Art, original sculptures, paintings, musical recordings and local Black newspapers at the website..

Knoxville - Beck Cultural Exchange Center

The Beck Center is a reservoir of information on and for African Americans and people of all races who are interested in the rich history of our community. This Web site offers an online tour of the facility and resources, which include photographs and documents on the history and culture of Black Americans in the Knoxville area. They also have an events calendar and offer African American Cultural Tours.

Memphis - Center for Southern Folklore

Their mission statement is "To preserve, defend and promote the music, culture, arts, and rhythms of the South." And to that end you'll find events, tours and more!

Memphis - National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, chronicles key episodes of the American civil rights movement and the legacy of this movement to inspire participation in civil and human rights efforts globally, through collections, exhibitions, and educational programs. Their online exhibit: Voices of Struggle begins with the early fight against bondage through to the assasination of Dr. King. You can also learn about events, activities, lodging and membership opportunities.

Nashville - Fisk University Campus Tour (photos only) 

Founded in 1867, Fisk has produced outstanding graduates including: W.E.B. Du Bois, famous author; Margaret Murray Washington, wife of Booker T. Washington; John Hope Franklin, premier African-American historian; Nikki Giovanni, nationally-known poet; and many others.

Nashville - Multicultural Nashville

This page at the Nashville Convention & Visitor's Bureau provides a history of some of Nashville's African American landmarks in addition to lodging, dining, shopping and other visitor information.

Additional Resources

On The Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail. Charles E. Cobb Jr. Algonquin Books, NC. 2008 Order at Amazon.com

I became interested in this book when I heard the author, Charles Cobb Jr. interviewed on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin. Cobb is a veteran of the civil rights movement and a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists. He spoke about sitting on the steps of a middle school in Medgar Evers’ old neighborhood, across from the Fannie Lou Hamer Library, trying to engage some kids in conversation about the movement in Mississippi. When he told them he’d known Mrs. Hamer, a little boy said in amazement “YOU were alive back then?!”

That’s when he realized the era was fading into ancient history, viewed as a mass movement led by a few charismatic and long dead leaders. This book - part memoir, part travel guide, part history book - is intended to capture the deeper meaning of the fight for civil rights, community grassroots organizing and thousands of independent acts of courage reaching further back than the 1960’s...in fact, he said, the movement probably began as soon as the first African stepped off the ship in chains and began thinking of how to escape.

With Cobb as our personal guide we travel through Washington D.C. and eight Southern states. But this is so much more than just a visitor’s guide to historic sites, museums and plaques. Nearly every page is graced with photos, quotes from interviews, songs, letters, or key documents. We get to know the men and women not mentioned in the “Civil Rights Canon,” the everyday yet heroic people fighting for justice and equality in their own back yards.

Academicians will be happy with the careful citing of sources in end notes; general readers will be delighted with the compelling narrative flow. It’s the sort of book I find myself reading twice: first skimming through to read all the fascinating sidebars, then reading through state by state. If I had a “favorite book of the year” this would be it for 2008. It belongs on the shelf of every school and community library.

Discovering African American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites. John A. Wright. Second Edition. Missouri Historical Society Press, 2002. Order at Amazon.com

A fascinating tour of nearly four hundred African American landmarks, east and west of the Mississippi. From the boyhood home of jazz great Miles Davis in East St. Louis, Illinois, to the site of the house that sparked the landmark Shelly v. Kraemer court case, the maps, photographs, and text of Discovering African American St. Louis record a history that has been neglected.

Missouri's Black Heritage. Lorenzo Johnston Greene, Antonio F. Holland, Gary R. Kremer. University of Missouri Press, 1993. Order at Amazon.com

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.

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.

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.

Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums. Eichstedt, Jennifer L. and Stephen Small. Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002. Order at Amazon.com

African American history in general, and slavery in particular, should be an integral part of the story told at any plantation museum. After all, not a single plantation would have or could have existed without the complex institution slavery. Yet as the authors ably demonstrate, that story is not being presented by the vast majority of plantation museums.

Focusing on museums in Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia, the authors create a useful framework to categorize the nature of interpretation. "Symbolic Annihilation" occurs when the presence of African Americans is not acknowledged at all. "Trivialization and deflection" might actually be more insidious, because it presents slavery as benign, with happy "darkies" gratefully serving a beneficent Massa. "Segregation or marginalization" is at least a step in a better direction; here museums offer interpretative programs relating to the black experience, but in separate and less frequent programming. "Relative incorporation" occurs when the story of the plantation's black inhabitants is told at least alongside that of its white inhabitants...though as they point out, this is being done only marginally, and usually at publically financed sites or Afrocentric ones.

Don't head out to a plantation tour without reading this book!

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 but still available 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 but still available through used booksellers at Amazon.com.

Hippocrene U.S.A. Guide to Black America: A Directory of Historic and Cultural Sites Relating to Black America. Marcella Thum. Hippocrene Books 1991. Order at Amazon.com

More than 700 historic public attractions significant to African American history, many of which are not included in standard travel guides. Arranged geographically, entries briefly describe each site, noting admission fees and addresses.

 

 

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