African Americans have a unique spot in this nation’s history. The relatively straightforward act of putting together a family tree is a near-impossible task for those whose ancestry includes slaves in 19th-century America. Many people believe that the United States is still dealing with the aftermath of that stain on our republic.
I grew up as a white person in a community that was roughly 97 percent white in the 1950s and 1960s. I knew a few black people, but none well enough to call a friend. While I will never understand first-hand what it was like to grow up black in those turbulent times, I find occasions like Black History Month a great time to learn.
Two of my favorite all-time places to visit involve black history. One is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Started in 1990, the museum is reported to be in financial trouble, but its exhibits are worth a special trip. It’s located in a black historical district at 18th & Vine and is just a few blocks from Arthur Bryant’s famous rib joint and where Kansas City’s old baseball park once stood.
The other place is the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The museum itself is in the remains of the old Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was shot and killed in 1968. The museum’s engaging multimedia exhibits are incredibly detailed and educational without being stuffy or preachy. An added bonus is that the motel’s exterior is preserved as it was in 1968, as is the rooming house across the street, from where the fatal shot was fired.As you might expect, there are plenty of good sites about black history on the Internet. Here are links to a few of them:
- CNN report on the Greensboro sit-in that is credited with starting the modern civil rights movement.
Flickr photo courtesy of firepile.