Weeksville Preservation Site: Brooklyn, N.Y.
James Weeks, a freedman, purchased land in 1838 in what is now Bed-Stuy. He established Weeksville, a village of free African Americans — laborers, laundresses, craftsmen, doctors, entrepreneurs and professionals. The community was “rediscovered” by community activists in 1968, and in 2005 the Weeksville Heritage Center restored four houses, which feature furnishings, clothing, artifacts and photographs dating back to the 1800s, and opened them to the public.
By The Root Staff
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: Washington, D.C.
Unveiled on the National Mall in the summer of 2011, this site, a pilgrimage destination, features a 30-foot granite statue of the civil rights leader.
Robert Gould Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial: Boston
This moving scene on the edge of the Boston Common depicts black volunteer soldiers and their white colonel as they set off for battle against the Confederate Army in 1863. The 1989 film Glory, starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, told the story of the courageous black regiment.
John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park: Tulsa, Okla.
Dedicated in 2010 and erected at the site of Tulsa’s 1921 race riot, the open-air park, centered by the 25-foot-high bronze Tower of Reconciliation, has helped the city reckon with the darkest chapter of its past. Downtown Tulsa is in the backdrop.
16th Street Baptist Church: Birmingham, Ala.
On a Sunday morning in 1963, a bomb blast at 16th Street Baptist Church left four schoolgirls killed, more than 20 other worshippers injured and the black community brokenhearted. Decades later, the city’s leadership created the Civil Rights District, which includes the church; Kelly Ingram Park, the site of many protests; and the Civil Rights Institute, devoted to rights activism locally, nationally and internationally.
Harriet Tubman Museum and Learning Center: Cambridge, Md.
Exhibitions in this small museum offer details on the life of Tubman and some vivid history of Underground Railroad activity in the mid-1800s. Tubman was born nearby and spent much of her early life in this area. The proximity to safer areas in Pennsylvania attracted hundreds of slaves to escape from plantations concentrated in this area.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: Cincinnati
This museum provides a comprehensive tour of the plight of slaves from their capture in Africa to their shipment to America and enslavement. But the most vivid and moving exhibitions are the films, displays, artifacts and documents that tell the story of the approximately 100,000 slaves who fled the plantations for freedom.
Congo Square: New Orleans
In her important book Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans, historian Freddi Williams Evans has documented the history of Congo Square, a site in New Orleans where records from the early 1700s document that freed and enslaved Africans gathered to share and perpetuate traditional African cultural practices. Today that square still exists, just outside the French Quarter in Louis Armstrong Park, and black musicians and other culture workers continue to gather there.
Ben's Chili Bowl: Washington, D.C.
Founded by local celebrity Ben Ali in 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl — which survived the 1968 riots — is known for its greasy burgers, fries, half-smokes and other lunch fare and is a D.C. landmark located along the culture-rich U Street Corridor.
The Penn Center: St. Helena Island, S.C.
The Penn Center is dedicated to preserving the cultures of the sea-island and coastal areas, including Gullah cultures. The Pine Cottage, built in 1921, is one of several residential buildings sprawled across center’s bucolic 50-acre campus.