With Martin Luther King Day coming up on Jan. 18, followed by Black History Month in February, it’s a good time to look at destinations where you can explore the contributions of African Americans to American history.
African American museums, many of which operate with limited resources, have been hit especially hard by the pandemic that has affected cultural institutions. At the same time, more people are interested in visiting these sites. According to a recent survey from Mandala Research, learning about Black history and culture is a strong motivation for travel.
While many of these institutions are temporarily closed, you can get inspiration for your next trip by touring them from home.
New York City’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library (nypl.org/locations/schomburg), was founded in 1925 during the artistic period known as the Harlem Renaissance. You can search the archives, listen to podcasts and get book recommendations.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C. (nmaahc.si.edu), is a place where all Americans can learn about the diversity of Black life. You can search for items from the collection and browse exhibits, including Double Victory: The African American Military Experience, photographs from 75 years of Ebony magazine and the life of writer James Baldwin.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, in Charlotte, N.C. (ganttcenter.org), is home to one of the country’s most significant collections of works by 20th century African American artists. Online exhibits include A Woman’s Work, paintings and drawings that focus on Black women and their many roles and experiences.
More than 100 locations across 15 states are part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail (civilrightstrail.com), including the Atlanta birthplace of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was pastor. You can learn about these sites and plan your own driving tour.
Fans of Prince can visit Paisley Park (paisleypark.com), his home and recording studio located about 30 minutes from Minneapolis. Online, you can explore the late musical legend’s life and work through photos, text and audio.
Prince’s story is only part of the history of African Americans in Minnesota. To learn more, check out the African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (maahmg.org).
Detroit gave birth to the Motown Sound, and that story is preserved at the city’s Motown Museum (motownmuseum.org). You’ll find a history of the record company founded by Berry Gordy Jr. and biographies of the artists who made it famous, including the Supremes, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder.
On the website for the Museum of African American Art, in Los Angeles (maaala.org), you can scroll through works by Palmer Hayden, one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance, including a series of paintings he created from 1944 to 1947 that depict the story of African American folk hero John Henry.
For help navigating any travel plans, contact your travel advisor Travel Leaders/Fly Away Travel.