African Americans’ contributions to our history and culture are deeply interwoven into our collective national heritage, including our national parks. Explore just a few of the parks that preserve and share these important stories.Less
Known as “M.L.” by his family, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s early years in Atlanta are preserved and honored at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Stop by the visitor center to pick up a map of the park, which includes the home in which he was born and lived until he was 12, Ebenezer Baptist Church where he worshipped and preached, and the King Center, where Dr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King are laid to rest.
Often called the “Father of African American History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s work and legacy is preserved and celebrated at this park, which includes his “office-home” in D.C. A champion of women and mentor to many, Dr. Woodson was one of the earliest and most lettered scholars of African American history, and it was in this home that he established Negro History Week in 1926, the precursor to today’s Black History Month. Be sure to check the park's website in advance to know what's open!
Honoring the 1965 civil rights marches meant to stretch for 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, this historic trail lets you follow the path of those fighting for equality, especially in access to voting registration. The first two marches, met with confrontation, were captured by the media and sparked nationwide outrage. The third march, made on March 21, 1965, saw upwards of 25,000 participants and five months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed.
Maggie Lena Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for African American men and women during the Jim Crow era. Today, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site commemorates the life of this progressive and talented woman who was the first woman in the U.S. to charter and serve as president of a bank. Tour her historic home, restored to its 1930s appearance, and explore the community where she lived and worked.
This park, 90 miles west of Atlanta in Anniston, Alabama, tells the story of a small group of individuals who inspired a nation to fight against racial segregation. “Freedom Riders” set out in 1961 to challenge discriminatory state laws and local customs on buses and in bus stations. Throughout their journey, the Freedom Riders and their supporters were attacked. This park preserves sites associated with the Freedom Riders, including the site of a violent bus burning in the summer of 1961.
One of the newest additions to the National Park System, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument commemorates the legacies of two civil rights activists who, from their small ranch home, devoted their lives to ending racial injustice against Black Americans through local and national activism. The assassination of Medgar Evers in the carport of their home in 1963 was a catalyst for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
One of two national parks that preserve the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY explores Tubman’s later years. After masterminding hundreds of rescue missions, it was here where Tubman continued to devote herself to fighting for human rights and dignity. Explore the church Tubman attended, the Tubman Home for the Aged that she founded, and the exterior of her residence, as well as her gravesite.
Natchez National Historical Park preserves sites that reflect every era of American history, including the historic home of William Johnson, an African American who was freed from slavery at the age of 11 and became a respected businessman before his murder in 1851. Johnson’s diary was published in 1951, providing a unique and detailed insight into African American life in the 19th century. Tour Johnson’s house, the nearby Melrose Estate, and the site of Fort Rosalie.
Col. Charles Young was a distinguished officer in the U.S. Army, the third African American to graduate from West Point, and the first to achieve the rank of colonel – he was also the first African American to serve as a superintendent of a national park! Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument preserves Young’s legacy, as well as that of “Buffalo Soldiers,” African American soldiers who served a country that marginalized who they were based on the color of their skin.
A couple hours southwest of Atlanta, in Tuskegee, Alabama, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is the training site of the first-ever African American military pilots, known as the “Red Tails.” Nearly 1,000 African American pilots were trained here, and over 10,000 African American men and women worked at the site in a variety of roles. Visit the park’s two hangar museums to learn more about the daily life of the men and women who served here.