Since February is Black History Month, we thought this would be the perfect time for you to take advantage of the unique opportunity to explore an under-appreciated aspect of our country’s culture, especially with kids who are just learning about the Civil Rights movement and the African American leaders who came along way before President Obama took office.
It’s also a great opportunity to travel. If you’re looking for a mid-winter break trip to take with your family, here are a few Black History Month sites everyone will find enriching and enlightening.
Museum of African American History – Boston, MA
With sites and tours in Boston and Nantucket, you’ll have to plan multiple days — or visits — to take in everything the Museum of African American History has to offer. Visit the first public building erected to educate black children, the Abiel School, before checking out the special programming for 2015 dedicated to the reading, writing and publishing of books by black authors.
George Washington Carver National Monument – Diamond, MO
Lots of people know George Washington Carver as the peanut farmer, but this monument is meant to remember him as an educator and scientist. With a museum that reimagines his life and experiences through a series of exhibits, you can also take a walk along the Carver Trail; a one-mile loop of beautiful woodlands, flowers and tall grass, where you’ll discover the Carver Family Cemetery and 1881 Moses Carver house — and see just how the explorer-at-heart developed his love of nature.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History – Washington, D.C.
There’s a ton to do and see at the nation’s premier museum destination, but throughout the month of February you can visit one exhibit before it’s gone on March 1st. Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College have been removed from their usual home in Alabama for a five-year multi-city tour. Woodruff’s paintings, depicting themes like the Underground Railroad, were commissioned in the early days of the Talladega campus, which was opened in 1867 to help newly freed slaves obtain an education.
African American Museum – Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia is a city with deep roots in American history, and although lesser realized, there are deep ties to black history there, too. It is the first institution created in a major city to honor African Americans for their work, their inventions, their lives and their contributions to the nation. The gem to see here? Audacious Freedom, a permanent exhibit revealing the unheralded work of African Americans in Philadelphia, who helped shape our country as it was first beginning.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture – Charlotte, NC
Founded to celebrate African-American men and women for their work in their work in the arts and other achievements (Gantt himself was the first mayor of Charlotte), the Harvey B. Gantt Center calls itself “a community epicenter for music, dance, theater, visual art, film, arts education programs, literature and community outreach.” As such, it’s regularly bursting with rotating and permanent collections and exhibitions aimed at inspiring those to speak about culture and history. Next up? Beginning on February 7, Venturing Out of the Heart of Darkness, an exhibit with works by artists depicting the continuing impact of colonialism on black culture. With a goal of sparking discussion, bring your teenagers out for this one.