Dr Martin Luther King Jr

7 Must-Visit Historic Black Cultural Sites in the U.S.

Delve into the rich heritage of Black America with our guide to 7 historic sites. Discover landmarks from the NMAAHC to the Apollo Theater.


Dec. 8 2023, Published 4:30 p.m. ET

The United States is rich with cultural and historical landmarks that showcase the diverse contributions of the Black community. The stories landmarks and important sites can tell are critical to our history as a people and as a nation. As noted by Marcus Garvey "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

For Black Americans, we have a unique set of historical sites and landmarks that tell our story as well. From sites deeply rooted in the struggle for civil rights to places that celebrate the achievements of Black artists and intellectuals, these destinations provide a window into the multifaceted history of Black America.

The best way to learn history is to walk the paths those before us did and many of the nation's cultural sites and landmarks can help us do just that. So, let’s explore seven must-visit historic Black cultural sites in the U.S., each with unique historical context and visitor information.

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) - Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian Institution, stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Opened in 2016, it is the only national museum devoted to documenting African-American life, history, and culture.

The exhibits span centuries, from the transatlantic slave trade to the present day, providing a comprehensive view of the Black experience in America.

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Visitor information includes:

  • Address: 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

  • Admission: Timed entry passes are required and can be obtained online.

  • Highlights: Don't miss the Emmett Till memorial, the Oprah Winfrey Theater, and the powerful "Slavery and Freedom" exhibition.

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2. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site - Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., pays homage to the civil rights icon with the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

This includes the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King served as co-pastor, and his childhood home, preserved to reflect the conditions of the 1930s. The site is a tribute to King's legacy and pivotal role in the American civil rights movement.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Admission: Free

  • Highlights: Visit the King Center, the final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

3. Apollo Theater - New York City, New York

The Apollo Theater in Harlem has been a cultural cornerstone since 1934, providing a stage for Black artists who became legends. Song and dance made their mark on the Black community and the rest of the nation from this famous stage and backdrop.

From the Amateur Night, where Ella Fitzgerald made her debut, to performances by James Brown and Billie Holiday, the Apollo has been an influential hub for Black entertainment and talent.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: 253 W 125th St, New York, New York.

  • Admission: Ticket prices vary for different events.

  • Highlights: Experience the historic Apollo Theater during Amateur Night or catch a live performance.

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4. Motown Museum - Detroit, Michigan

Detroit's Motown Museum, located in the house where Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records, is a pilgrimage site for music enthusiasts.

Motown played a crucial role in shaping the sound of Black America in the 1960s and 1970s, with artists like Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Temptations recording timeless hits under the Motown label.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, Michigan.

  • Admission: Tickets can be purchased online.

  • Highlights: See the Studio A control room where iconic hits were recorded and explore artifacts from the Motown era.

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5. The African Burial Ground National Monument - New York City, New York

In the 1990s, a significant historical discovery was made during the construction of a federal office building in Lower Manhattan—the African Burial Ground.

This site contains the remains of more than 400 Africans and African Americans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries, shedding light on the early presence and contributions of Black individuals in New York City.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: 290 Broadway, New York, New York.

  • Admission: Free.

  • Highlights: Explore the outdoor memorial and visit the visitor center to learn about the burial ground's history.

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6. Sweet Auburn Historic District - Atlanta, Georgia

Sweet Auburn, once a thriving Black business district, was home to Martin Luther King Jr. and influential institutions like the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

The district played a crucial role in Atlanta's Black community's economic and social development during the early to mid-20th century.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Admission: Free to explore the district.

  • Highlights: Walk along Auburn Avenue, visit the Apex Museum, and experience the rich history of Sweet Auburn.

7. Tougaloo College Civil Rights Monument - Jackson, Mississippi

Tougaloo College, a historically Black institution, played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement. The campus served as a meeting place for activists, including those involved in the Freedom Rides and voter registration efforts.

The Civil Rights Monument on campus honors the contributions of Tougaloo College to the fight for equality.

Visitor information includes:

  • Address: Tougaloo College, 500 W County Line Rd, Tougaloo, Mississippi.

  • Admission: Open to the public.

  • Highlights: Explore the campus and visit the Civil Rights Monument, commemorating the college's role in the struggle for civil rights.

Historic Black Cultural Sites

These seven historic Black cultural sites offer a compelling journey through Black America's diverse and impactful history. From the National Museum of African American History and Culture to the Apollo Theater, each site provides a unique perspective on the resilience, creativity, and contributions of the Black community in the United States. As visitors explore these landmarks, they gain a deeper understanding of the historical context that has shaped the nation's cultural landscape.

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