In honor of Black History Month, let’s look at some national park units celebrating African Americans who helped mold this nation with grit, intelligence and, often, wit.
Here are several of my favorites:
African Burial Ground National Monument, New York. An intense spot for contemplation amid the bustle of Lower Manhattan.
Boston African American National Historic Site, Massachusetts. In the heart of Boston, these sites celebrate freedom. They include the oldest African American church in the US, which dates from 1806.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, District of Columbia. Douglass’ home is so well preserved that it feels as if the great human rights activist has stepped away for just a moment.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia and Maryland. This is a fascinating place where energy, nature, personalities and ideologies have converged time-and-again.
Lincoln Memorial, District of Columbia. Larger than life. Period.
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Florida. Equal parts thrilling and chilling where the lines of slavery became blurred.
There are many more National Park Service sites celebrating African American heritage. Explore them here.
A few of my favorite Frederick Douglass quotes:
“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
“The American people have this to learn: that where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither person nor property is safe.”
Photo courtesy of the NPS.