Chances are that on one of your class trips (or maybe planning to chaperone of your children’s), you ventured to the Metropolitan Museums of Art or the Smithsonian. While these are the two most popular museums in the United States, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of museums across this country that fall into their shadow. Specifically museums that highlight and tell the true stories of African American history.
If you’re looking for a deeper view into your history and that of African Americans in the United States, you should definitely check out these black museums that you can visit all over the country.
African American Civil War Memorial and Museum
Located in Washington, D.C., the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum has a mission of correcting the wrongs told by history. Often in the history books, we hear of the North fighting the South, but seldom do we hear about the African American troops who fought alongside them. This museum has a few exhibits, one being “A Glorious March to Liberty” where they share the story of soldiers “who fought during the Civil War to preserve the Union and end the tyranny of slavery.” The museum also includes the exhibit “From Slavery to the White House” which explores the stories of First Lady, Michelle Obama’s ancestors, who were slaves.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has a very clear vision in mind with a few different missions. They have a vision for the future while they plan “to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.” The BCRI and its special exhibits give a look into the history and culture in Birmingham. If you are unable to visit the museum in person, the website does provide a quick 30 minute tour of the institute.
Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site
If you’ve never heard of Brown v Board of Education, you either weren’t paying attention in class or you need to question your school’s curriculum. This particular case is what ended legal segregation in public schools. The entire Brown v Board of Education case that was brought to the Supreme Court absorbed four other cases in Delaware, Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Virginia. The National Historic Site features includes a display on “Demanding Equality Under the Law” as well as the words “White” and “Colored” hanging above a pair of inside doors.
National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
If you’re a fan of Madame Tussauds, I’m sure you’ll love the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. A part of their many exhibits, they feature the innovators and powerful leaders who helped pave the way. Some of their exhibitions include The Underground Railroad, Entrepreneurship, Harlem Renaissance, and the Modern Civil Rights Era. Some of the figures you’ll see in this museum are Carter G. Woodson, the father of Negro History Week, and Harriet Tubman, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Jackie Robinson, and Ida B. Wells.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture
Relatively new at the Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture explores the story of some well-known African Americans who helped change and map the course of generations. Some of their stories include Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a donor who attended the funeral of three of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. They also have exhibitions on athletics, musicians, and the Civil Rights’ activists.
In this country, there are countless of places that we visit from amusement parks to festivals. For a taste into African American history and culture, these museums are set in place to show how the stories changed from that of slavery to success.