Since 1976, every president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. This month is dedicated to researching, promoting and celebrating the achievements of black Americans. And while the achievements of African Americans and the modern civil rights movement should be celebrated every month of the year, February is a great month to focus on it in your classroom. Going on a student tour? Our top destinations provide plenty of opportunities to learn about black history; see some of our favorites here.
National Museum of African American History and Culture – Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian Museum is finally adding an African American history museum to its collection on the National Mall, and we couldn’t be more excited. You may not be able to spend this black history month here (the museum opens on September 24, 2016), but we definitely recommend it for next year. You’ll find history galleries on slavery, segregation and civil rights; culture galleries on music, culture and visual arts; and community galleries on migration, resilience, sports and military history.
DuSable Museum of African American History – Chicago, IL
Founded in 1961, this museum was one of the first locations in Chicago that was dedicated to the celebration of black culture. In addition to serving as a focal point for black social activism, it is home to 13,000 artifacts that speak to black history, culture and art. This museum focuses on black history in general, and highlights some influential local African American figures.
Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center – New York City, NY
During the 1920s and 1930s, black culture and creativity exploded in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Now referred to as “the Harlem Renaissance”, this era was known for authors like Zora Neale Hurston, musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, intellectuals, dancers and more. With multimedia Harlem Heritage Tours, a Harlem local will take you through the influential sites of this time period.
Museum of African Diaspora – San Francisco, CA
This museum focuses on the cultural achievements that have resulted from the migration of Africans throughout the world. In addition to a variety of slavery narratives that span the globe, you’ll find rotating art exhibits by various African artists and oral histories from multiple time periods.
Black Heritage Trail – Boston, MA
During the late 18th century and early 19th century, Boston was a hub for freed slaves. The city’s all-free black community established schools and institutions that would lead the nation’s abolitionist efforts. Discover these locations with a tour of this influential neighborhood. Tours are led by Boston’s Museum of African History.
National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis, TN
Consisting of a series of historic buildings in Memphis, this educational complex is centered around the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. The museum’s artifacts, films and oral histories explore five centuries of civil rights, starting with an exhibit on slave resistance. It also features plenty of information on the modern civil rights movement: the museum has exhibits on student sit-ins, the Montgomery bus boycotts and freedom rides.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – Birmingam, AL
Located alongside the 16th Street Chapel in Birmingham’s historic Civil Rights District, this “living institution” uses lesson from the past to inform future actions. Multimedia exhibitions such as the Oral History Project document the personal struggles of African Americans during the modern civil rights movement.