“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” —Ola Joseph. That’s what traveling does, especially when you’re traveling with kids. It gives you a chance to embrace one another’s uniqueness without barriers. It’s why traveling is so powerful; once we can see others through their lens, it’s life-changing.
We know that America has a colorful past and present, for that matter, when it comes to Black History. Often dismissed, washed over, and simply not taught, Black History is in fact American History. As parents, we can change the narrative with our children by embracing the past and making a better future for all of us.
Traveling with my kids is my favorite way to expose them to different people and cultures because we typically are more open to learning through experiences.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to visit. However, this list will get you started. The next time you decide to take a trip, don’t forget to see some of these historical sites, places, and museums. Your whole family will benefit.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and the national mall, The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must-visit for families traveling with kids.
Inspired by Yoruba artwork and colored bronze to depict the centuries of free labor enslaved African Americans contributed to the United States is distinct and shows the story of African Americans, including the good and the ugly.
Visiting this museum as a family offers the chance to hold conversations about history and race. It mimics life by showing sorrow, joy, and all the emotions in between.
Before you travel with your kid, make sure you take the time to tell them where you are going and why. It is crucial to allow children into the planning process to prepare them before their visit. Preparation encourages excitement and involvement.
Plan your visit by visiting The National Museum of African American History and Culture’s website to sign up for free timed entry passes.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston isn’t just cobblestone streets and Antebellum houses. It’s also steeped in Black history.
During the peak of slavery around 40% of slaves came through the port of Charleston, where the Slave Mart Museum currently stands. Many museum guides can trace their family history to enslaved people from the area.
The soon-to-be-opened (late 2022) International African American Museum honors the the untold stories of the African American journey. It will offer a center for family history that will be used to study the advancement of African American genealogy.
Known for their preservation of culture, the Gullah/Geechee have been able to maintain their history more than any African American community in the United States. For an immersive experience, visit one of the Gullah/Geechee communities and take the Gullah Heritage Trail Tour on Hilton Head Island or The Sallie Ann Robinson Gullah Tour on Daufuskie Island.
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With a population of about 60% black, African American culture runs deep in Baltimore. Home to multiple historical black figures including, Frederick Douglas, Billy Holiday, and Thurgood Marshall, Baltimore is teaming with Black History.
Walk the steps of famed abolitionist and advisor to President Lincoln, Frederick Douglas on the Frederick Douglas Freedom and Heritage Trail. Walk through historic Fells Point and see underground railroad locations and sites of resistance.
Visit the Maryland Center for History and culture, which contains more than 350,000 objects and documents, including exhibits that tell the story of African American life in Baltimore. Then head to the Sankofa Children’s Museum, designed to introduce school-aged children to Africas 54 nations.
You can’t visit Maryland without indulging in its food culture. Try some of the most popular and must-visit restaurants, from Blue crab and crab cakes to black-owned venues. Choosing a restaurant is also a great way to prepare for traveling with kids; get their input! They will love having some control over your travel plans. Visit Ida B’s Table, a popular soul food restaurant helmed by Chef David Thomas. Try out the area’s first female black-owned oyster bar, The Urban Oyster. With more than 100 black-owned restaurants, your choices are limitless.
If you are looking for a black-owned hotel, you can’t go wrong with The luxurious Ivy Hotel. Centrally located in downtown Baltimore housed in a historic 1880’s mansion, enjoy the spa and Magdalena, their fine dining bistro.
MLK National Historic Site
Travel with your kids back to where the Civil Rights leader was a child himself. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, allows you to visit MLK’s childhood home and play where he played as a young child. Then cross the street to visit Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King attended as a youth and eventually became an ordained minister.
National Civil Rights Museum
Developed around the spot Dr. King was assassinated, The Lorraine Motel, this museum is a must-visit when learning about Black History. Learn the history of the civil rights movement from the beginning to current day with this museum’s immersive exhibits. From slavery to sit-ins and walk-outs and everything in between, this museum shows the strength and determination of African Americans throughout history.
Richmond is rich with black history, once the center of the domestic slave trade in North America. The Richmond slave trail is a walking trail that follows the history of enslaved Africans until 1775 and to additional locals outside of Virginia until 1865.
Visit the Blackwell historic district, once home to over half the Black residents of Richmond. This self-sufficient community was well known for its black-owned businesses and is currently being revived with new black-owned businesses. Afterward, visit Jackson ward, once the center of black excellence. The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia honors Virginia’s African American History and Culture. Experience interactive exhibits and educational events.
With over 70 Black-owned restaurants ranging from Soul Food, BBQ, breakfast, and everything in between, Richmonds restaurants don’t disappoint. From BBQ to Soulfood, haute cuisine, and more, some of Richmond’s best restaurants are owned and operated by African Americans. Try Mama J’s for comforting soul food or Big Herm’s Kitchen to try their chicken wings slathered in “ooh wee” barbeque sauce. With so many fantastic restaurants that honor the legacy of Black people in the south, you can’t go wrong.
Niagra Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
Most of us don’t think of Niagara Falls when discussing the Underground railroad. Opened in 2018, The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center reveals authentic stories of Freedom Seekers and Abolitionists. The heritage center tells the stories of enslaved people who risked their lives and traveled the underground railroad to gain basic human rights. The interactive exhibits are a great way to teach black history while traveling with your kids to Niagara Falls.
National Museum of African American Music
The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), located in Nashville, TN, AKA music city, is the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and accomplishments of music genres created or influenced by black people.
The museum offers an in-depth experience of 50 genres and sub-genres of music, from call and response songs from the 1600s to jazz. Experience the highs and lows and triumph through the music of African Americans. The interactive displays and fun atmosphere will captivate you and your family.
The Legacy Museum, Montgomery Alabama
The Legacy museum offers a unique experience that focuses on the legacy of slavery. Many think that once slaves were freed, slavery was over. However, we know that the legacy of slavery is long-lasting and has lingering effects on African-Americans and the overall fabric of American culture.
The legacy of slavery is alive and well in America; what better way to begin to unravel the injustices of black people than to experience and understand the legacy of slavery. The Legacy Museum focuses on detailed and interactive content from the Transatlantic Slave trade to the domestic slave trade to reconstruction.
Where have you been, or where would you like to go to learn more about black history?
Black History is American History. Sadly, many schools don’t teach Black History, and it’s often only celebrated and acknowledged in February. Let’s change the narrative together. The next time you plan a trip, add in some of these museums and places in your itinerary. Traveling with kids and giving them these experiences will make all of us better.