Aug 14, 2022 Eleven Best Black History destinations in Washington DC
Washington DC is one of the Best Black history destinations in the United States, and it’s also a great place to learn about Black history. If planning a trip to Washington DC, you can inject the Black History Tour as part of your regular DC grand tour and maximize your visit. Here are some of the best destinations for learning about black history in the city:
The National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum to document African American life, history, and culture. It was established by an Act of Congress on October 10, 2003, through funding authorization from the United States Congress. The museum opened on September 24, 2016, after being closed for two years for renovations. It is on the National Mall in Washington DC, which has become one of the most visited museums in America.
The museum features a variety of exhibits, including artifacts from slavery but also focuses on present-day issues, achievements in sports, entertainment, and all aspects of Black lives.
Howard University is a private, historically black university. It was initially founded as the “Central Collegiate Institute” in 1867 by Rev. and Mrs. Oliver O. Howard, a white minister born free in Maryland who became an abolitionist and leader of the Freedmen’s Bureau (the federal agency that assisted formerly enslaved people). It was renamed in 1870 for General Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War hero who presided over their board of trustees until he died in 1909. The university became one of the largest colleges for African Americans by 1930 with 2,300 students on its campus and was not limited to blacks only until 1950 when it admitted its first white student since Congress passed integration laws during the Reconstruction era following American Civil War ended slavery, but he wasn’t allowed on campus until after passing exams like every other student.
Frederick Douglass’s home on Cedar Hill
If you’re interested in learning more about the abolitionist movement and its leader Frederick Douglass, this is one of the most important places to visit. The home was built in 1878 by John A. Alexander, owner of the Washington Evening Star newspaper and friend of Douglass. Fredrick Douglass purchased it after his first wife, Anna Murray, died in 1882. He then lived here until 1895, when he relocated to New York City with his second wife, Helen Pitts-Douglas (who is also buried at Cedar Hill).
This National Historic Site is located at 1411 W Street SE in Anacostia and features an exhibit that tells the story of how this house became a symbol of liberty during an era when African Americans were enslaved in much of America.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House – Museum and Archives
Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was an educator, civil rights activist, and advisor to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The council house represents the pinnacle of her career as an educator, philanthropist, and political leader.
Mary McLeod Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. The organization continues to fight for social justice on behalf of African American women through advocacy work and funding research today. The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House was its headquarters from 1941 to 1959.
The building itself is a National Historic Landmark with exhibits that honor Ms. Bethune’s legacy and that of other African Americans who have lived in Washington DC throughout history.
Bethune Council House – Museum & Archives at 1905 Florida Avenue NW, self-guided tours available.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. In his speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, Dr. King extolled Abraham Lincoln as a great president who signed a bill directing equal access to public accommodations. He also urged that Congress pass legislation making it “illegal” for American citizens to be denied access to public facilities because of race. That piece of legislation became known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964.
Visit the Martin Luther King Memorial and learn about its history of Civil Rights and its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The memorial was an attraction that stands as one of the most visited places in Washington DC and a tourist destination for many visitors from around the world. Explore the informative exhibits inside this memorial and visit nearby attractions.
The memorial is laterally divided into two nearly equal parts by the shallow pool, which contains 78 vertical panels of sculpted granite. The two most extensive panels feature text from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The other panels are engraved with notable quotations and excerpts from Dr. King’s writings.
The monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a monumental sculpture situated on a 4-acre site along the National Mall’s Tidal Basin, adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and shares a direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Black people in America, then this is one spot you won’t miss.
The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site was established in 1976 at 1518 9th Street NW Washington DC 20001. The park features a small museum and offers tours for visitors who would like more information about its history. Carter G. Woodson was a pioneer in black studies and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, later known as the Association for African American Studies (AAAS). In addition to being an educator, he was also an author, his most notable work being “The Mis-Education of The Negro” written in 1933 when he was only 34 years old! He also wrote several other books, including “How to Teach Your Child Values,” “The Negro Family,” etc…
Anatole Cemetery and the Contrabands and Freedmen Memorial Cemetery National Monument
Anatole Cemetery, the Contrabands, and Freedmen Memorial Cemetery National Monument are two sites that tell the story of African Americans in Washington DC. The first is a historic cemetery containing over 300 graves, which are believed to be formerly enslaved people, while the second was established in 1900 by Congress as a memorial to “contrabands” (escaped slaves) who worked for the Union army during the Civil War.
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of African Art
Other museums in Washington DC to check out to learn Black history are:
• The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery features more than 2,000 portraits of Americans from all walks of life. Notable works include Gilbert Stuart’s 1805 painting of George Washington and Rembrandt Peale’s full-length portrait of Thomas Jefferson.
• The National Museum of African Art is the only museum in the country dedicated exclusively to African art and culture.
Sankofa Video Books & Cafe
Founded in 1998, the husband and wife directing duo of Haile & Shirikiana Gerima established Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe as a hub of discourse, critique, learning, and a better understanding of all matters of the African Diaspora. From book discussions to author reads, to film events, to community outreach projects, Sankofa remains a cornerstone of the DC area and the global African community.
The store hosts events at 2131 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC. It sells African-American literature in paperback and hardcover editions, including books by Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker. You’ll find titles such as, “The Bluest Eye” by Morrison; “Notes of a Native Son” by Baldwin; “This Bridge Called My Back” edited by Gloria Anzaldua; and “Love Poems from God” by Cole Swindell and more. Everything from children’s books about Harriet Tubman to novels about slavery in Colonial America is here under one roof for your convenience!
The Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage
The Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage is a great place to learn about Black history in Washington DC. The center offers a variety of programs for kids, teens, and adults, including guided tours that are open to the public. Additionally, the center’s website contains lesson plans for teachers who want to incorporate Black history into their curricula.
Located on the campus of Howard University, this gem provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about the rich history of African Americans in Washington DC through interactive exhibits, video presentations, and more!
Best Way to Tour!
Washington DC is the perfect place to experience Black History. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to learn more about the city’s past, you have many options.
One of the most popular ways to immerse yourself in black history is by taking a guided tour of Washington DC.
Washington DC offers tours that focus on all aspects of African American culture and history.
Your tour includes stops at important landmarks. When you make your regular Washington visit, be mindful of the legacy of slavery, the history of the prominent figures, the Civil War, and the history of activism is evident.
Black History is everywhere in Washington DC and the surrounding areas on all the sites. All the major sites, including:
• Arlington Cemetery
• George Washington’s Home in Mount Vernon
• Lincoln Memorial
• Lincoln’s cottage
• Vietnam Memorial and everything you see in DC is part of Black History
The world is changing, but these sites serve as a reminder of the strength and resilience of African Americans.
Book tours or arrange a private tour on busses, mini busses, and private transportation as a group, family, or for corporate outings.
Free Tickets are provided for The National Museum of African American History as part of the private or group tours.
Reserve your seat for the morning or evening tours.
For more information and to check for availability, click on the link below.
Enjoy your trip to DC!