Develop a New Understanding for Black History at These Thirteen Events Across the Nation
Colleen Cheslak-Poulton, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Washington, D.C.) – Black History Month, first designated by President Gerald Ford in 1976, presents an opportune time to learn about and reflect on the triumphs and tragedies of the African American experience throughout U.S. history. During America’s formative conflicts – from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War – African Americans recognized their potential impact and made noteworthy contributions that guided the course of the nation. A leading preservation and education nonprofit, the American Battlefield Trust is committed to elevating their stories and creating a fuller, richer view of the nation’s past through digital interpretation, the development of key park sites and continued preservation at battlefields central to these stories.
With a place-based mission, the Trust encourages the public to seek out historic sites that can serve to enlighten and humble them through the stories they hold. Many such sites will be holding events and programs throughout the month to create a bridge for audiences to consider Black voices throughout the past. As such, the Trust recommends the following 13 events this February.
February 3: “Special Walking Tour: African American Servicemembers Buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery” | Gettysburg, Pa.
Join park rangers at Gettysburg National Cemetery at 3:30 pm on February 3, for a special walking tour highlighting the lesser-known and lesser-told stories of African American servicemembers therein laid to rest. Participants are asked to meet at the cemetery’s Taneytown Road Entrance. Later, on February 24 at 1:30 pm, at Gettysburg National Military Park, visitors can hear from “Harriet Tubman: In Her Own Words.” In this program, living historian Janice Curtis Greene will portray the renowned trailblazer. Learn more.
February 6: “Slavery and Freedom Highlights Tour” at the African American History and Culture Museum | Washington, D.C.
Join docents at either 10:15 am or 11:30 am on February 6, for an hour-long tour to explore the complex story of slavery and freedom and view priceless objects. Learn more.
February 8: “Ford Evening Book Talk: The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley” | Mount Vernon, Va. OR virtual
Join Professor David Waldstreicher at Mount Vernon to learn about his new book, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet's Journey Through American Slavery and Independence. This book is considered to be the most deeply researched biography of the poet, whose prose set African American literature at the heart of the American Revolution. For those attending in-person, the talk will be held at 7:00 pm at the George Washington Presidential Library. Learn more.
February 10: “Meet Horace King: A Black History Tour” | Columbus, Ga.
Join the National Civil War Museum at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, pm 3:00 PM on February 10 to learn about Horace King, an African American architect and engineer who was freed from slavery in 1846 and built bridges throughout the Civil War. The event is free after admission cost to the museum. Learn more.
February 10: “Frederick Douglass Birthday Commemoration” | Washington, D.C.
With this year marking the 206th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth, join Park rangers at the THEARC (1801 Mississippi Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20020) for a program highlighting African Americans and the arts. Included is a special panel presentation on the upcoming Broadway musical about Frederick Douglass titled “American Prophet,” which will feature playwright and director Charles Randolph-Wright among others. Pre-program activities will start at 12:30 pm while the main program will be held at 2:00 pm. Learn more.
February 10: “Buffalo Soldier Love Stories” | Dayton, Ohio
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, meet with a park ranger at the Dayton Aviation National Historical Park's Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center to explore “Buffalo Soldier Love Stories.” Learn about how commitments to their loved ones effected their actions on and off the battlefield. Talks will be held at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. Learn more.
February 17: “Kinglsey Heritage Celebration” | Jacksonville, Fla.
Join the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve for a yearly tradition of remembrance for the men, women and children once enslaved on Fort George Island. The event starts at 10:00 am and will go till sunset. Expect an action-packed day with performances, speakers, ranger-led tours, and a luminary reading at dusk. The event starts at 10:00 am and will go till sunset. Learn more.
February 17: “Black History Month Archaeology Open House” | Charlottesville, Va.
Take a 90-minute walking tour at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticiello property to visit a recent excavation site that has already revealed important information about enslaved agricultural laborers at the historic site, as well as the precolonial activities of Indigenous communities. Tours will leave from the courtyard at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Cost included in all same day admissions at Monticiello. Learn more.
February 17: “From Servitude to Service” | Mansfield, La.
Join the Mansfield State Historic Site at 2:00 pm to catch a screening of portions of the film “Glory,” encapsulating the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and a presentation on the legacy left by African American soldiers and sailors of the Union. Admission is $4 per person, free for seniors 63 and older/ children 3 and younger. Learn more.
February 24: “History Explorer Day: African American History in Appomattox” | Richmond, Va.
The American Civil War Museum will be hosting a day of living history, informal interpretation, children’s activities, and a panel discussion with local historians, museum professionals, and community members on the subject of African American History in Appomattox. With activities starting at 10:00 am, this event is in the cost of museum admission (free admission to Virginia public school students and teachers); registration is encouraged. Learn more.
Saturdays and Sundays in February: “Black History at Fort Washington” | Fort Washington, Md.
Commemorate Black History Month at Fort Washington by taking a ranger-guided tour that dives into the role of African Americans in the fort’s history, from the construction of the fort into the 20th century. Tours begin at the visitor center. Learn more.
Every Saturday in February: “Mount Welby Open House and Read with a Ranger” | Oxon Hill, Md.
Join park rangers at Oxon Hill Farm every Saturday in February, from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, to see inside the historic Mount Welby farmhouse to learn about the farm’s 19th century inhabitants and ponder the past role of slavery in Maryland agriculture. Then, at 3:00 pm, children can “Read with a Ranger” and discover African folklore about farm animals within Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s book “African Myths and Folktales.” Learn more.
Select Saturdays and Sundays in February: “African American Patriots Tour” | Boston, Mass.
Explore Boston’s Freedom Trail through a whole new lens by taking a tour with an 18th-century costumed guide — as they they relay tales of the past through the eyes of African American revolutionaries such as Crispus Attucks, Phillis Wheatley, Prince Hall, Peter Salem and more. Ticket costs vary ($0-17); call (617) 357-8300 to inquire about reservations. Learn more.