24 African-American Historical Sites You Must Visit

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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, Ohio

Opened in August 2004, the center commemorates the history of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes and safe houses 19th century slaves used to escape to free states and Canada. It also is dedicated to the abolishment of human enslavement and the secure freedom of all people. The permanent exhibitions include Invisible Slavery, documenting human-trafficking and modern-day slavery, and an exhibition on Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The exhibit was created to provide historical context for the film 12 Years a Slave, based on Northup’s experience.

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Birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. — Atlanta, Georgia

King’s childhood home is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Reservations can be made to tour the home. Visitors also can tour the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which includes the crypts of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the Eternal Flame, symbolizing King’s continued dream.

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Ebenezer Baptist Church – Atlanta, Georgia

Located near the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and Freedom Hall, a nonviolence exhibition, Ebenezer Baptist Church is an important part of the King family legacy as his grandfather and father, Martin Luther King Sr., served as pastors before he took over in 1960.

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Freedom Rides Museum – Montgomery, Alabama

The museum is located in Montgomery’s historic Greyhound bus station, the site of a violent attack during the 1961 Freedom Rides. The museum features Freedom Ride exhibits, inspired artwork and recorded speeches by the Freedom Riders.

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Motown Historical Museum — Detroit, Michigan

Established on Jan. 12, 1959, Motown Records, nicknamed Hitsville U.S.A., was a highly successful Black-owned record label. The company had great success with performers such as The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. The museum displays the history of Motown’s creation, exhibits featuring famed artists, costumes and photographs as well as the legendary Studio A, where classic hits, such as the Supremes’ Stop in the Name of Love, were recorded.

 

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DuSable Museum of African American History – Chicago, Illinois

Named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first non-native settler to arrive in Chicago in the 1780s, the DuSable Museum is the first and oldest museum on African-American history and culture, featuring works from scholar W.E.B. Du Bois and an exhibition on anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells.

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