Honoring the Legacy of African Americans In Our National Parks

By: 
Rocío Lower

Throughout the month of February, our nation celebrates National African American History Month by honoring the pivotal role of African Americans in U.S. history. This role was shaped by centuries of sacrifice, determination, and perseverance toward a belief that represents the best of our nation’s ideals – liberty and justice for all.   

To commemorate this astounding legacy, the National Park Foundation established the African American Experience Fund (AAEF) in 2001, which supports, preserves, and connects us all to the significant contributions of African Americans to our country. We invite you to join us at our AAEF sites to learn more about the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans and to ensure that future generations develop a deeper understanding of our collective national story.

A great way to celebrate National African American History Month is by visiting our national parks dedicated to the unyielding strength of the African American men and women who shaped our history, such as the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument honoring American hero Colonel Charles Young.

Young was the third African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point; the first African American Military Attaché; the first foreign diplomat from any nation to serve in Haiti; the first African American national park superintendent; the first African American Colonel in the United States Army and the highest ranking African American officer during the World War I era.  We invite you to join us and help us preserve his incredible legacy through the establishment of the Colonel Charles Young Leadership Academy at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The academy will focus on leadership, and through community service, it will inspire young leaders, cultivate future park stewards, and rangers to follow in the footsteps of an “officer and a gentleman” who never wavered in his pursuit of excellence.

You can also join the celebration by taking part in events being held throughout the country, and engage with us online at WeAreStillMarching.com. Take time to reflect and interact with the historical and cultural treasures that the AAEF works so hard to protect. We’ll continue to update the listings throughout the month, so be sure to bookmark the page and visit often!