Washington, D.C. is a city filled with black history and culture, and during the month of February—Black History Month—there are several nearby destinations where you can reflect upon and celebrate African-American leaders.
Even if you can’t score one of the most coveted tickets in town—a timed entrance pass to the National Museum of African American History and Culture—there are several nearby destinations where you can relive black history firsthand.
Here are five places to put on your travel itinerary for February:
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Anacostia, D.C.)
Across the Anacostia River high atop a hill sits the Washington, D.C. estate where Frederick Douglass once lived. Cedar Hill is a tour back in time when Douglass was a noted abolitionist, statesman, and Renaissance man. It’s also where he did much of his thinking and writing in a stone shed that he referred to as “The Growlery.” Tours are offered daily, and on Saturday, February 17 and 18, the National Park Service will host special events to mark the bicentennial of his birthday.
Maggie L. Walker House (Richmond, Va.)
One of Richmond’s most famous African-American residents, was Maggie Walker, a businesswoman who devoted her life to fighting Jim Crow and supporting civil rights advancement. During her life, she was a bank president, newspaper editor, and fraternal leader, and her home is a detailed look back at her legacy in the Richmond. The home is open daily, except Sunday, and this month there are special events happening on Saturdays in celebration of Black History Month.
Banneker-Douglass Museum (Annapolis, Md.)
Annapolis, Maryland has a complicated history of slavery, and until recently, much of that history was unknown, buried beneath the ground. Archaeologists have been unearthing artifacts that shed light on black life and slavery. And some of those artifacts now live permanently in the city’s Banneker-Douglass Museum. The museum also occupies space within a historic black church, the old Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, and this month there are two exhibits in tribute to the museum’s namesakes—Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker.
Reginald F. Lewis Museum (Baltimore, Md.)
No visit to Charm City is complete without a visit to the Lewis Museum—Maryland's largest museum focused on the African diaspora, black history, and culture. Right now, the museum is playing host to a new exhibit, “Reflections: Intimate Portraits of Iconic African Americans,” which features a documentary-style look at famous black leaders. Not to be missed is the museum’s cafe which features some of Baltimore’s best soul food, including collard greens, stewed chicken, and jumbo-lump crab cakes.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center (Church Creek, Md.)
Visitors to Maryland’s Eastern Shore will want to take a quick detour off Route 50 to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where the National Park Service recently opened a visitor center dedicated to the life of Harriet Tubman—one of Maryland’s most prominent historical figures. She’s best known as a slave turned abolitionist and the architect of the Underground Railroad, and she played a prominent role in the Union Army during the Civil War. This month, there are several special events to commemorate Tubman’s life, including a special documentary: They Called Her Moses.