Iconic street corner in Harlem, New York, where Black History Month is Celebrated

9 Places to Celebrate Black History Month in 2019

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Finding the stories and celebrations of African-American movers and shakers

February is Black History Month, and one of the best ways to celebrate is to travel and share in the stories of our black neighbors, families, and friends. Experience places where civil rights were won and African-American artists and advocates continue to influence their communities. You probably already have your eye on places like the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., but don’t stop there!

If you want to know how to celebrate Black History Month in other cities, check out these 9 destinations, listed in no particular order. You may find yourself standing speechless or dancing in the streets!

1. Montgomery, Alabama

Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama on a clear day

Places with the greatest struggles often become the sites of our biggest triumphs. This is much the case in Montgomery. Visit the downtown area where Rosa Parks was unjustly arrested, and the famous bus boycotts played a pivotal role in ending Jim Crow laws. Here in Montgomery, take a moment to follow in the footsteps of demonstrators who marched from Selma to demand equal voting rights.

  • Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice: Opened in April 2018, it honors and demands justice for the men, women, and children who have been abused through the unlawful practice of lynching.
  • Freedom Rides Museum: The February exhibition “Safe Travels: Navigating Jim Crow America with the Green Book” explores the struggles of black families traveling during the 1950s and 60s.
  • Civil Rights Memorial Center: Pore over the names of martyrs who lost their lives for the sake of equal civil rights etched into the memorial.
  • Rosa Parks Museum: Stand in gratitude along on the site where Rosa Parks was arrested for bravely not giving up her bus seat to a white man.

Discover top Montgomery hotels and plan your getaway.
 

2. Oakland, California

Oakland is a major hub of African-American culture on the West Coast. Every February, they pull out the stops with Black History Month events all over the city. Breezy Bay Area weather and the region’s artistic energy enriches your experience of contemporary African-American culture. And don’t forget to imbibe some scrumptious soul food with a NorCal twist.

  • African American Museum & Library at Oakland: Come anytime January 14 – March 31 to take in stories and images of local black experiences at the exhibit entitled “African American Oakland” in the main library.
  • Thelma Harris Art Gallery: Featuring the works of contemporary African-American artists, this gallery has played a vital role in nurturing creativity and community in the Rockridge neighborhood and beyond.
  • Souley Vegan: Tamearra Dyson is here to crush your stereotypes about vegan eats and African-American cuisine. Dig your spoon into okra gumbo over grits and get spicy with the Creole pop’ens.
  • Black Joy Parade: Where is Black History Month celebrated with unmatched zest? In the streets of Oakland, that’s where! This event celebrates black lives with music, dance, and family-friendly vibes on February 24.

Book your Oakland hotel and see the city come to gather with joy!
 

3. Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro is home to the peaceful protests that ended segregation in Woolworth department stores across the South and had a huge impact on desegregation in general. Learn about the persistent pursuit of justice in the city and throughout the beautiful rural area near Greensboro.

  • International Civil Rights Center & Museum: Located on the site of the famous nonviolent sit-ins that paved the way for desegregation, the ICRCM is an active force in gaining civil rights for people worldwide.
  • North Carolina A&T State University: Visit the alma mater of Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and David Richmond, Ezell Blair, Jr. — the students who started the Greensboro sit-ins. Join the National African American Read-In in Bluford Library on February 28.
  • Mendenhall Homeplace: Visit this historical homestead in nearby Jamestown. The Bank Barn houses two false-bottom wagons where people hid on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Find the perfect Greensboro accommodation for you and explore the city’s past and present.
 

4. Cincinnati, Ohio

During the Civil War, crossing the Ohio River into Cincinnati meant freedom for oppressed people escaping slavery. Today, the city is still a crossroads of action and conversation. Young advocates and artists continue to pursue equity with grassroots initiatives while historical curators preserve the past. The energy will inspire you to celebrate, and that’s what Black History Month is all about.                                                .

  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: The center educates and continues the fight against slavery worldwide. On February 8, they’re bringing back The Ubuntu Film Series: Music for Mandela screening.
  • Hamilton at Aronoff Center: The national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical will run February 19 through March 10. Relive American history…with an arguably better soundtrack.

Check out great Cincinnati hotels and get to know this side of the Ohio River.
 

5. Macon, Georgia

Historical downtown Macon, Georgia on a spring day

Macon’s black community has made an indelible mark on history — and you get to hear their stories from the locals who love them most. Experience the innovations and excitement that could only come from Macon year-round, thanks to well-curated museums and historic arts venues.

  • Tubman Museum: Can you name five African-American inventors? After visiting the Inventors Gallery at the Tubman Museum, you will!
  • Douglass Theatre: Douglass Theatre showcases the work of black artists and entrepreneurs like Otis Redding and its namesake Charles Douglass. The annual Black History Month Film Series includes “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “The Green Book.”
  • Cotton Avenue & Pleasant Hill Historic District: Dine at H&H Restaurant, where owner “Mama Hill” Louis Hudson fed the racially integrated Allman Brothers Band when proprietors in whites-only districts shut them out.

Planning a trip to Macon? You’ll find affordable Macon hotels right here.
 

6. Harlem, New York

New York City is one of the best places to celebrate our shared rights. But if we must choose one area of the city to see this February, it’s Harlem and nearby Washington Heights. During Black History Month, NYC is all about honoring civil rights champions, like Malcom X and Langston Hughes.

  • Audubon Ballroom: The site of Malcom X’s assassination is now the home of The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial & Educational Center, a multimedia cultural center dedicated to pursuing human equality.
  • Apollo Theater: Since the performance venue integrated and took its current name in 1934, great American performers including Diana Ross, James Brown, and Billie Holliday have graced the Apollo’s stage.
  • Langston Hughes House: The home of one of America’s greatest poets has been preserved to continue his legacy through literacy and socially engaged writing. Tour the historical downstairs parlor or join a workshop or open mic night.
  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: On February 28, listen to the Harlem Chamber Players at their 11th annual Black History Month celebration at this nationally recognized historical landmark.

Winter in NYC is stunning. Book a Harlem hotel or one of our hotels in Washington Heights and celebrate.
 

7. Detroit, Michigan

Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama on a clear day

Detroit in a historical hub of automotive innovation and groundbreaking music, where you’ll feel the motion and creativity of Detroit’s African-American community. Celebrate Black History Month in the city that gets your toes tapping and your hips swaying to the songs of Mary Wells, The Supremes, and Marvin Gaye.

  • Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: You don’t want to miss the temporary exhibit, “Oh, You Fancy! Black Hair & Fashion,” which runs through February 28.
  • Henry Ford Museum: Rosa Parks’ brave act of protest and self-respect will live in our memories for generations to come. You can still see the actual bus where she sat that fateful day in 1955 on exhibition now.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts: All month, DIA is honoring the creative force of African-American artists with panel discussions, film screenings, and live music by J Dilla.
  • Motown Museum: The sounds of Motown greats defined over a decade of American music, and we owe it to Detroit’s visionaries and performers. Learn about the stories behind your favorites: Stevie Wonder, the Marvelettes, and more.

When the music of Motown calls you, book one of the top hotels in Detroit and pack your dancing shoes!
 

8. Sandy Spring, Maryland

Sandy Spring has a unique history and it’s a quiet place to learn about the past. It was founded by Quakers, a faith group that was, and still is, very active in anti-slavery movements. Follow the Underground Railroad trail and learn about the people — black and white — who advocated for freedom and the community they shared.

  • Sandy Spring Slave Museum and African Art Gallery: If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, come to events and exhibitions year-round. Otherwise, visit in February for the interactive experience Living Museum, the Civil Rights Movement on February 23 and 24.
  • Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park: Kids will love the educational activities and games at Family Day Black History Month February 9, and the whole family can appreciate the natural beauty and raw truths you’ll encounter on the Black History Winter Walking Tour.
  • Woodlawn Museum: Housed in a historical stone barn, Woodlawn Museum highlights the lifestyle and experiences of free blacks and Quakers in the 19th century.

Explore the area and find plenty of hotels in Gaithersburg, just 20 miles away.
 

9. Savannah, Georgia

Every city on this list is the site of heartache as well as victory, and Savannah is certainly no exception. Wander down the beautiful lanes lined with historical plantations and be mindful of the people who built this city from the ground up. Honor them while you’re in Savannah.

  • First African Baptist Church: Founded in 1777, before it was even legal for black people to preach or read, this is likely the oldest black Baptist congregation in the United States. During the Civil War, the building hid escaping slaves, and it housed activist meetings during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum: Three floors take you on a journey from 18th-century Africa to present-day Georgia with interactive, multimedia exhibits, lectures, and presentations.
  • Laurel Grove Cemetery: This is the final resting place of more free African Americans than any other 19th- or early 20th-century cemetery in the southeastern United States.
  • Savannah Black Heritage Festival: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival, and you want to be here for the dance workshops, theater productions, readings, and memorial dedications.

Book one of our lovely Savannah hotels and get to know the local culture first hand.
 

How will you celebrate Black History Month? Let us know in the comments!

Header image via Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Kohleun Adamson

Kohleun is a fan of high tea in Scottish villages and low tide on Coronado Beach, and she can’t get enough of rolling vineyard vistas. These days it’s no easy feat to pull her away from the California coast, but she can be wooed with Moroccan cous cous and ancient palace ruins. As a writer, Kohleun has a passion for sharing the intricate details of a journey well traveled, whether it involves crossing continents or exploring close to home.

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