Celebrate African American History In the Parks

As we honor National African American History Month this year, we invite you to join us at national parks across the country and uncover the historic contributions of African Americans that are preserved in these treasured places.

While we honor African Americans everywhere, we want to highlight one American hero in particular this year. That hero is Colonel Charles Young. Young was the third African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point; a Military Science and Tactics instructor at Wilberforce University; a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; the first African American Military Attaché; the first foreign diplomat from any nation to serve in Haiti; the first African American national park superintendent (in what is now Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California); the first African American Colonel in the United States Army and the highest ranking African American officer during the World War I era.  We invite you to join us and help us preserve his incredible legacy through the establishment of the Colonel Charles Young Leadership Academy at the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The academy will focus on leadership, and through community service, it will inspire young leaders, cultivate future park stewards, and rangers to follow in the footsteps of an “officer and a gentleman” who never wavered in his pursuit of excellence.

Below, please find a list of ways to celebrate National African American History Month in your national parks. We will continue to update this list throughout the month, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back here often.

Alabama

Partake in a “Day of Commemoration” at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site by celebrating the end of the eight-year historical preservation and restoration of Moton Field. The day will include a ribbon cutting ceremony, a performance by the Tuskegee University Choir, a flyover by the Black Pilots of America, a panel discussion, and much more! For information about the event, contact the park.

Louisiana

Enjoy a free concert featuring musicians from New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Hosted by Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Asbury United Methodist Church in Natchitoches, the performers will be playing selections from their acclaimed CD collection, “Freedom is Coming:  Songs of Freedom, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad.” Find out more here.

Marvel at the art of Joseph Lewis – a carver, photographer, and painter – at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. See the beauty of everyday Louisiana scenes through the art that pays tribute to National African American History Month. Find out more here.  

Massachusetts

Experience the powerful story of the Civil War soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black Civil War contingent, at Springfield Armory National Historic Site. Find out more here.

Missouri

Encourage all fourth graders you know to enter the George Washington Carver National Monument’s annual Art and Essay Contest! This year’s theme is “Overcoming Obstacles: Struggle and Triumph in the Life of George Washington Carver”. Find out more here.

Participate in the first Homeschool Day of 2014 at the George Washington Carver National Monument. As younger students enjoy the “African American Trailblazers” program, older students will learn how museum exhibits are designed. Together, the students will design their own museum exhibits about George Washington Carver. To reserve a space in the program, please email gwca_interpretation@nps.gov.

New York

Take part in an African Beads Workshop or the African Person Puppet Workshop led by anthropologist and designer Vickie Fremont at the African Burial Ground National Monument. Contact the park for more information.

Visit the General Grant National Memorial and learn all about Grant’s support of the enlistment of African Americans in both the Civil War and the Indian Wars. Contact the park for more information.

Witness “The Meeting”, a fictional encounter between Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, at St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site presented by the Mt. Vernon Theatre Company. Contact the park for more information.

Learn all about the important role of Buffalo Soldiers at Hamilton Grange National Memorial and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.  Contact each park individually (Hamilton Grange and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace) for more information.

Ohio

Join a ranger-led presentation of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s venture to the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair, entitled, “Mr. Dunbar Goes to the Fair,” at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Find out more here.

South Carolina

Continue the celebration of African American history through the month of March by joining the Saturday programs at Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. Each week, participants will learn about Gullah heritage through craft demonstrations such as quilting, cast-net making, wood-working and sweetgrass basket sewing to cooking, African drumming and story-telling, folk tales, spirituals, and other musical performances. Find out more here.

Virginia

Spend the next three Saturdays at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site watching the award-winning PBS series “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow”.  Find out more here.

Washington, D.C.

Celebrate the life of Frederick Douglass with a community-wide birthday party at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Live music, games, films, speakers and plays will fill the day! Find out more here.

Everywhere

Experience Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by exploring www.WeAreStillMarching.com. Not only can you read Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech and record yourself reciting it, but you can also connect with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The interactive site transports you to August 28, 1963 and allows you to engage with the momentous march that epitomized the civil rights movement.

Watch the live broadcast of a virtual National Youth Summit at the George Washington Carver National Monument’s visitor center. The event, presented by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, will feature young people from across the country, along with Freedom Summer veterans and scholars discussed the 1964 youth-led effort to end the polical disenfranchisement and educational inequality of African Americans in the Deep South. Find out more here.

For a complete list of events taking place in your national parks, visit the National Park Service’s calendar.