Black History Month is the perfect time to beef up on your personal knowledge about people, places, and things that have contributed — and still continue — to African-American culture. Rest assured, there are plenty of sites and exhibitions in the United States for those travelers eager to reflect on the subject. And while not all of them are equally known, each one is destination worth visiting during Black History Month or any other time of year.
Here are 6 intriguing trips you can make to learn more about African-American history.
Visit the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco
When you think of San Francisco, the Golden Gate bridge is usually the first thing that comes into mind, right? It’s good to know then that right after you’ve emerged from the thick fog enveloping the iconic mile-long landmark, the Museum of the African Diaspora stands just another six short miles ahead of you. A great way to discover more about African cultures, this museum invites everyone to walk a mile in their shoes through various forms of art, film, and music. As you explore, you’ll also take in stunning exhibitions from emerging African-American artists from all over the world. Hungry for more? Then make sure to look for Bryant Terry, the museum’s chef-in residence since 2015 known for stirring up political change right from the kitchen!
Explore African American History in LA
Turns out, Los Angeles boasts one of the largest African-American communities in the United States, playing an integral part in nearly every aspect of the City of Angels. Therefore, you can find several historic and cultural locations throughout LA. Start your day with a reinvigorating cup of joe at the famous Watts Coffee House to get a glimpse of African American past while you get a jolt of caffeine. Then swing by the Californian African American Museum to learn even more about it. After you’ve ticked off all the places on your list take a stroll on Obama Boulevard, which used to be Rodeo Road until August 2018.
Make Your Entrance at The Apollo Theater in New York
If you’ve heard about the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, you may also know their famous saying: “where stars are born and legends are made.” Many African-American musicians and entertainers got their start in the spotlight here back in the day. Billie Holiday and Benny Carter captivated the audience during the 1930s, and Aretha Franklin dominated the stage during the 1970s. Every February, the Apollo pays homage to its rich past paving the way for new stars. To this day, the 107-year-old theater still hosts its Amateur Nights year-round!
You may also like: 6 Black History Places in New Orleans
Unwind in Key West’s Bahama Village
Although Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovered Key West in 1521, it took nearly 300 years to formulate the neighborhood that is now known as Bahama Village. In the 1800s, freed slaves from the Caribbean settled in Key West and gradually infused their Afro-Caribbean culture into the area. That influence is still very much alive in Bahama Village’s colorful architecture, delicious restaurants, and junkanoo bands. And if you can’t wait for a second visit, remember that Bahama Village celebrates its Afro-Caribbean roots during the annual Goombay festival in October.
Attend Hilton Head Island’s Gullah Celebration
Home to one of the most remarkable African-American communities in the United States, South Carolina’s Hilton Head island became a place of refuge for hundreds of ex-slaves during the Civil War. Many of their descendants who stayed kept and incorporated their ancestors’ unique mix and blend of Central and West African cultures. This community eventually stretched beyond Hilton Head, throughout the Lowcountry region and as far as Florida. They became known as Gullah and every year, starting in the last days of January, Hilton Head Island hosts its annual Gullah Celebration. Multiple events take place on the island over a span of 30 days to commemorate their traditions and heritage. It covers everything you could imagine, from indulging in a traditional breakfast to listening to oral history from the Gullah Elders. Sing your heart out in gospel quartets! Unleash your creativity during one of their paint-and-sip sessions! Whatever you decide to do at Gullah Celebration, it’s sure going to be fun.
Check-In Into The Lorraine Motel in Memphis
We all know that Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredibly influential man that changed the course of history during the Civil Rights Movement. Sadly, his life came to an abrupt end after he was shot at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. Landmarked as part of the National Civil Rights Museum, the Lorraine Motel in Tennessee is open every day except Tuesdays, so it’s always a great place to visit whether you decide to book flights to Memphis during Black History Month or any other time of the tear. It has many exhibitions that teach and remind people about the slave trade, Jim Crow laws, and practically every turbulent event that took place in the 20th century.