Aunt Viv said it best…
As we embark on Black History Month, there are plenty of people, places, and things to explore and discover far beyond what we were taught in elementary school.
And while we’re thankful for the history (albeit brief) we received in grade school, it’s up to us to understand that the buck doesn’t stop with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Truth is, black history is everyday. And with so much of it hidden between the seams of America’s tapestry, it becomes an adventure learning about the men and women (and children) who played a part in enriching our communities.
So thumbs up to our teachers and parents for educating us about George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, and other pivotal civil rights heroes and inventors, but there’s always more around the corner.
The frigid winter may tempt you to stay indoors, but take the time out this month to step outside to these ten spots — some that will take you down the street and others on a plane — that will open your eyes to the African-American experience from yesteryear and the present.
1. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Take a drive or book a flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma to get a first-hand account of one of the most important cities in black history. Greenwood, an area in Tulsa, was home to the biggest and wealthiest concentration of African-Americans back in the 1920s. The oil boom in the 1910s helped earn the town the special moniker, “The Black Wall Street.” Unfortunately, many now know Greenwood as home of the largest massacre to happen in American history.
The Tulsa Race Riot occurred in the summer of 1921, when Dick Rowland tripped in an elevator and bumped into a young white teenager. The teen, Sarah Paige, claimed Rowland assaulted her, and the story was plastered all over the press. A group of whites decided to torch 35 square blocks of homes and businesses after their attempts to hunt down Rowland were thwarted. Pilots dropped bombs on the town, buildings were lit on fire, and the two black hospitals were destroyed. In the midst of the 16-hour melee, 39 people were reported dead, however, many other reports claimed over 300 people died.
The Tulsa Historical Society and Museum is currently hosting a virtual exhibit about the Tulsa Race Riot and many other exhibits connected to Black History in the town. Check out dates for the exhibits here. [Cracked]
2. The African Burial Ground Monument
The African Burial Ground National Monument came into fruition in 1991, but its roots go all the way back to the 1690s. In 1991, construction workers came across the remains of 400 Africans buried in a 6.6-acre space. The remains belong to both enslaved and freed Africans living in New Amsterdam, which is now known as New York.
Among the Africans buried in the sacred space, archeologists also discovered jewelry and many other important pieces of African culture. Check out times of operation and more here.
3. The National Great Blacks Wax Museum
Head to Baltimore for a look into the trials and triumphs of black history at The National Great Blacks Museum. As the first national black wax museum, it features figures like Earl G. Graves, President Barack Obama, Billie Holiday, and more. Created in 1983 by husband and wife Elmer and Joanne Martin, exhibitions focus on The Middle Passage, Queen Anne Njinga and other African royalty, The Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil War. Attendees can learn more about black history in a fascinating way. Check out details for their upcoming and current exhibits here.
4. Movies & Art Exhibits
Screenings and exhibits are happening all over the country; why aren’t you going to one? There are plenty of festivals focusing on black filmmakers, Harlem’s sultry style, African art, and more. Do your Googling and get a move on!
5. The Streets
Sometimes we ignore how great the outdoors can be. What do you really know about your neighborhood and its black history roots?
It’s great to know about the authors and pioneers who helped shape the music, politics, and civil rights wins over the years, but it’s just as great to know about the history of your hometown. Hit the streets to wrinkle your brain.
6. The Black History Month Parade
Make the final day of Black History Month count by heading to Atlanta for the Black History Month Parade. The parade begins at noon at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. If you can’t make it to ATL, check to see if your city is throwing a parade. Feel free to participate by creating a float of your own.
7. The Library
Dig up your library card to read up on your favorite subjects. It’s free and you can act out all of your Doctor Who skills to discover black history.
8. Grandma’s House
What’s better than black history? YOUR history. Your elders are wise and full of stories to share about their experiences growing up during the Civil Rights Era and more. Take some lessons with a grain of salt as you discover your own black history museum at grandma’s house.
PHOTO CREDIT: Giphy, Getty Images