Honor Black History This February With These Eight Engaging Events and Exhibits
Colleen Cheslak, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Washington, D.C.) – Throughout the first 100 years of our nation’s history, more than 200,000 Black soldiers fought to establish a more perfect union on the battlefield, in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. As Black History Month encourages Americans to recall and celebrate the contributions and stories of African Americans past and present, the American Battlefield Trust reflects on the multifaceted roles African Americans played in the country’s formative wars and beyond.
To learn more about the African American military experience, the American Battlefield Trust recommends the following eight events and exhibits at locations nationwide.
February 4-5: “Frederick Douglass Visits Columbus” at the National Civil War Naval Museum, Columbus, Ga.
Historian John Anderson will portray the prominent abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglas, allowing visitors to discover his extraordinary life in a lively format! This opportunity to learn about the accomplishments and contributions of Douglass is part of the National Civil War Naval Museum’s commemoration of Black History Month. These free performances will take place the first weekend of February, with three scheduled between Friday and Saturday. Learn more.
February 9: “Men of Color: To Arms!”: United States Colored Troops in the Civil War, Mentor, Ohio
Uncover the reason behind the formation of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) in the Civil War, the federal government’s motivation behind the enlistment of Black men and the USCT recipients who received the nation’s highest military award for valor at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site’s lecture, “Men of Color: To Arms!” Hosted at the Mentor Public library, this program is free of charge, but you must make a reservation by calling Mentor Public Library at 440-255-8811. Learn more.
February 10: “Meet James Forten” Performance & Panel Discussion, virtual event
Hop online to experience the Museum of the American Revolution’s latest first-person theatrical performance, “Meet James Forten.” The performance, put on by actor Nathan Alford-Tate, will expound upon Forten’s life as a free Black Philadelphian, Revolutionary War privateer, and stalwart abolitionist. Following, Alford-Tate and the Museum’s African American Interpretive Fellow, Michael Idriss, will have a discussion about how Forten’s life can resonate in the present day. The performance will build upon themes expressed in the Museum’s special exhibit, “Liberty: Don Troiani's Paintings of the Revolutionary War.” Learn more.
February 12: Memorial Illumination Honoring the Enslaved People of Magnolia, Derry, La.
Join the Cane River Creole National Historical Park in remembering and honoring those who were enslaved on Magnolia Plantation. After taking free self-guided tours of the site, visitors will be invited to walk amidst luminaries representing the enslaved men, women and children of the plantation site. When possible, the luminaries will be marked with the names, ages, places of origin and skills of the enslaved, as retrieved from historical documentation. Learn more.
February 24: Travels with Darley: Discover the Liberty Trail, virtual event
Darley Newman, of PBS’ Travels with Darley, blazed South Carolina’s Liberty Trail last year, exploring sites connected to the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. During the Emmy-nominated host’s journey, she encountered the perspectives of Black Patriots and Loyalists, as well as Native Americans amidst the nation’s founding conflict. With the episode due to premiere this winter, Newman is teaming up with Smithsonian Associates for a virtual event, sponsored by the American Battlefield Trust, to give exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the episode. Registration for the event is required. Learn more.
Ongoing: “Audacious Freedom” at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
The people of Philadelphia experienced a whirlwind of change in the years following the nation’s founding, especially the city’s people of African descent. In “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776-1876,” a PECO-sponsored permanent exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, visitors follow along a 100-year timeline and discover 18th Century trailblazers and their unheralded impact while exploring topics such as entrepreneurship, education, religion, environment and family traditions. Learn more.
Ongoing: Virginia’s “Road to Freedom” Program, various locations in Virginia
The American Battlefield Trust and Civil War Trails, Inc.’s Road to Freedom network encourages visitors and Virginians alike to uncover stories of strife, growth and community by highlighting the Black experience during the Commonwealth’s tumultuous Civil War-era. Between a free map guide and app, the Road to Freedom features more than 90 sites across Virginia, from Alexandria just outside the nation’s capital to Abingdon near the Tennessee border. Included locations range from Civil War Trails interpretive signs and historic highways markers to museums and battlefields with permanent installations pertaining to topics in Black history, including slavery, emancipation, the United States Colored Troops, and Reconstruction. Learn more.
Ongoing: “Contested Franchise: The 15th Amendment and the Right to Vote in America,” virtual exhibit
Allow Richmond’s American Civil War Museum to expand your knowledge of voting rights in the Civil War-era with their virtual exhibit, “Contested Franchise: The 15th Amendment and the Right to Vote in America.” Learn why the 15th Amendment changed so much, but in not banning non-race-based qualifications allowed for states to continue restricting voting rights. Learn more.
For more travel ideas, check the National Park Service events calendar, visit a state park website, search for museums and historic sites near you, or visit the American Battlefield Trust’s events calendar.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 54,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.