Celebrating Black History Month
A few years ago, my son Cameron gave a speech about the importance of social justice in our communities. In his speech, he noted that change was a simple process: Listen. Learn. Act. (He even had t-shirts made to remind people.)
This February, I’m encouraging us all to take a page out of his book. Celebrating Black History Month can be as simple as choosing where and how you spend your vacation time and money. The places below all offer opportunities to listen, learn and act.
Macon, Georgia honours Black History year-round with 21 African American historic and cultural sites. While there, stop by the Tubman Museum to soak in the artwork. Next, visit The Douglass Theatre. Opened in 1921 as one of the first black-owned theatres it has been the landing point of some of the biggest names in jazz and blues. You can continue your immersion in the fine arts with a visit to the brand new Otis Redding Center for the Arts. You can even take a stroll by The Little Richard House and see where the music legend grew up. Visiting in April? Plan to attend the Pan African American Festival to celebrate themes of love, peace, unity and hope.
Providence, Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, consider the Providence Walks Early Black History Tour. This self-guided tour takes you through some important locations including the Mount Hope Sharing Garden, the Snowtown Riot Memorial Plaque and the site of the Providence Gazette. Check out Stages of Freedom before your trip so you can see what events are happening to promote Black culture in the region. Next, grab some food and shop at some black-owned businesses like Troop, Garden of Eve and LOLA.
New York State
Start your trip to New York with the Path Through History initiative. This historic tour takes you through museums, parks, galleries and more to learn about Black history. The website offers a deep-dive into The Underground Railroad. Discover Black culture throughout the state with visits to museums like The Louis Armstrong House Museum. Sports enthusiast? The Jackie Robinson Museum is one to check out. Then, visit spots like Harlem Hops, the first Black-owned craft beer bar in Harlem, or Black Monarchy in Buffalo, to support Black-owned businesses.
Loudoun County, Virginia
At the Loudoun Museum you can see the mural, “Journey to Freedom” by Shawn Perkins, which was unveiled in 2022 to commemorate MLK Day. In Leesburg, check out the Thomas Balch Library and Loudoun County Courthouse, which are both National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Sites. You can also visit the Oatlands Historic House and Gardens to see two Civil War Trail markers. Sprinkle in some shopping at upscale sneaker boutique, Restocked Sneakers, before heading over to Dolce & Ciabatta Bakery for snacks.
Black History Happens in Canada Too
We were more than just the destination for freedom seekers from the U.S. Across this country there are sites, memorials and exhibits worth exploring. We’ve shared a few of those on this site but also consider diving into Canadian Black History at some of these spots close to home.