Preserving the History of a Culture
In honor of Black History Month, the National Park Foundation is proud to highlight seven profound national parks. From Civil War sites to Civil Rights monuments, these parks preserve and interpret stories of some of the most important people, places, and events in our nation’s history.
Boston African American National Historic Site
In the heart of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood, the Boston African American National Historic Site is dedicated to the city's 19th-century African American community, which played a key role in the abolition movement. The site includes 15 historic pre-Civil War structures, including the 1806 African Meeting House, which is the oldest standing black church in the United States.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Founded on the West Texas frontier in 1854, Fort Davis is one of the last remaining examples of a 19th-century U.S. Army fort. The fort is notable for having housed several all-black cavalry and infantry regiments, known at the time as Buffalo Soldiers. Many of the 24 historic buildings that make up Fort Davis National Historic Site have been restored and are open for daily tours.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument is a new park honoring the importance of the Underground Railroad and its most famous conductor. Harriet Tubman led countless escaped slaves to freedom, and this new monument pays tribute to her accomplishments, in addition to preserving the landscape of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she was born.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
In addition to featuring sites that celebrate Dayton, Ohio, natives Wilbur and Orville Wright, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park includes the home of accomplished African American poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House — the first house museum commemorating an African American — is open for guided tours every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
George Washington Carver National Monument
Missouri's George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the boyhood home of George Washington Carver. In addition to the 1881 Moses Carver House, the monument includes more than 200 acres of rolling hills and forests, where Carver's early connection with nature and agriculture took root. At the time of its dedication in 1943, it was the first national monument for an African American and also the first honoring a non-president.
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
In the 1900s, African Americans’ struggle for equality extended to the U.S. Military, where opportunities were limited by quotas, exclusion, and racial discrimination. Alabama's Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site offers a tribute to the nearly 1,000 black World War II pilots who were the first to enter the Army Air Corps. Activities at the historic site include museum exhibits, films, more than 20 wayside exhibits, and annual aviation events.
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Jim Crow laws prevented the vast majority of African Americans in Alabama from voting until the 1960s. On March 7, 1965, non-violent protesters who sought the right to vote set out across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met by brutal violence from state troopers and the local sheriff's department volunteers. The attack on the protestors outraged the nation and would later come to be known as Bloody Sunday.
After a few additional attempts to make the trek from Selma to Montgomery, Judge Frank M. Johnson finally issued an injunction to the civil rights protestors and on March 21, the official march began. The 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail would later be designated by the National Park Service to honor the events, people, and the route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama.
February is Black History Month, and while it's a great time to visit any of these important parks, appreciation for African American history and culture isn’t limited to a single month. Black history is American history, and these parks provide an essential window into our past year-round. Whenever you visit, share a story with us on FindYourPark.com and post your favorite pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr using #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque.
Photo Credits: National Park Service, Wikimedia Commons, and Library of Congress