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Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.
Christopher T. Martin

Explore 15 parks honoring Black history

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The National Register of Historic Places lists over 95,000 entries, from the famous (the Statue of Liberty) to the infamous (Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay) to the downright strange (a six-story elephant statue outside of Atlantic City named Lucy). Despite the extraordinary range of places that have earned a spot on the register, just two percent of its sites focus on the experiences of Black Americans, according to a recent story in the New Yorker.

Treme neighborhood, New OrleansThe Treme Historic District in New Orleans was an early success in the decades-long effort to preserve more sites related to Black history in America.Photo credit: Center for New Urbanism

Trust for Public Land supporters have long helped preserve and create public access to the outdoor spaces that tell the story of Black life in America. We’ve worked closely with communities across the country to lift up the lessons our history has to offer, and strengthen a connection to our nation’s shared heritage. Learn more and explore below.

African Meeting House (Boston, Massachusetts)

Once a key gathering place for giants of the abolitionist movement, Boston’s African Meeting House is now the oldest remaining Black church structure in the United States—and home to the Museum of African American History—Boston and Nantucket. When the museum outgrew its headquarters, Trust for Public Land supporters helped it expand. 

African Meeting HouseAfrican Meeting House in Boston, MassachusettsPhoto credit: Boston African American National Historic Site

American Beach (Amelia Island, Florida)

In Jim Crow-era Florida, most beaches were off limits to Black visitors. American Beach was an exception: founded by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, the state’s first Black millionaire, the resort thrived through the 1950s, attracting cultural icons like Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong. The Trust for Public Land helped conserve a stretch of the beachfront as public land, including the historic Evans’ Rendezvous nightclub. Nassau County recently received a grant from the National Park Service to document the historic structure.

American Beach, FloridaView from the oceanfront porch of Evan's Rendezvous at American Beach in about 1950.Photo credit: Amelia Island Museum of History

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (Wilberforce, Ohio)

The first Black colonel in the United States Army, Charles Young led the Buffalo Soldiers, the United States’ first Black cavalry, and was eventually appointed the first Black superintendent in the National Park Service, a position which he held until his death with full military honors in 1922. With help from The Trust for Public Land, President Obama paid tribute to Young’s story by declaring Young’s Ohio family home a national monument in 2015. 

Charles YoungPhoto credit: Library of Congress

Ebenezer Creek (Springfield, Georgia)

On December 9, 1864, hundreds of formerly enslaved people died trying to cross Ebenezer Creek, fleeing Confederate troops. Public outcry over the deaths led President Abraham Lincoln to issue orders that were intended to redistribute to formerly enslaved people 400,000 acres of confiscated coastal property in 40-acre tracts. The order was revoked by President Andrew Johnson following Lincoln’s death. We worked with the City of Springfield to protect the site of the tragedy as a historical park.

Fort George Island (Jacksonville, Florida)

We helped the National Park Service protect four acres of coastal forest on Fort George Island in Florida’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. The island was once home to a formerly enslaved woman named Anna Kinglsey, who managed a large plantation on the site in the early 1800s.

Broward HouseThe historic Broward House is part of a historic site that honors the memory of Anna Kingsley, a formerly enslaved woman who managed a plantation here in the 19th century. Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson

Horace King Historic Site (Whitesburg, Georgia)

Born into slavery in 1807, architect and engineer Horace King grew up to become the most sought-after bridge builder in the South during the 19th century, completing dozens of structures throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. One of his bridges, at Moore’s Crossing on the Chattahoochee River outside of Atlanta, was ultimately burned by Union troops during the Battle for Atlanta in 1864. We protected Moore’s Bridge Park and the Horace King Historic Site in 2009. 

John Brown Fort (Harper's Ferry, West Virginia)

In an unassuming engine house at Murphy's Farm in Harper's Ferry, abolitionist John Brown and a small force of enslaved people who took shelter following their 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. In 1906, W.E.B. Dubois and other black leaders made a pilgrimage to “John Brown’s Fort” to honor the effort during the second meeting of the Niagara Movement—the forerunner to the NAACP.

John Brown FortJohn Brown Fort, Harper's FerryPhoto credit: Ken Sherman

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park (Atlanta, Georgia)

Since the late 1970s, the Trust for Public Land has protected more than a dozen properties around Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home near downtown Atlanta. Today, more than a million visitors a year tour the national historical park dedicated to his life and legacy.

ga_mlk_05212017_02Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA.Photo Credit: Christopher T. Martin

Meadowood (Simsbury, Connecticut)

As a teenager, Martin Luther King Jr. spent summers as a field hand on a tobacco farm in the Connecticut River Valley. Historians say the experience shaped King’s worldview in important ways. But today, the story of his time in this valley isn’t well known, even by many locals. We’re working alongside the community to preserve what remains of this farm as a public park and historic site. 

ct_meadowood_09202020_293Historic barns at Meadowood, Simsbury, ConnecticutPhoto credit: Kesha Lambert

Monroe School (Topeka, Kansas)

This brick-and-stone schoolhouse in Topeka, Kansas, became a flashpoint of the Civil Rights movement through its students’ involvement as plaintiffs in Brown v. the Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in America's public schools.

ks_brownvboard_20190309_008A large mural across from the Brown v. Board historic site at Monroe School depicts people and events surrounding the 1954 decision to strike down racial segregation in public schools.Photo credit: Ian MacLellan

Morris Island (Charleston, South Carolina)

If you’ve seen the movie “Glory,” you know Morris Island: it’s the site of the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, led by the Black Union soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. We helped purchase and permanently protect the island for the public, ensuring that the memory of the troops’ sacrifice lives on.

Nicodemus National Historic Site (Nicodemus, Kansas)

Nicodemus, Kansas, is the oldest—and the only remaining—Black settlement west of the Mississippi River. We helped the National Park Service expand the Nicodemus National Historic Site, which helps tell the story of African Americans who played a role in our nation’s westward expansion. 

Pullman National Monument (Chicago, Illinois)

The neat brick homes and warehouses at the Pullman National Monument date to the 1880s, when they sprang up as the company town and headquarters of a major rail-car manufacturer. We helped the National Park Service acquire the site in the 2000s. Today, the monument honors the courage and tenacity of labor leaders who strove for equal representation and safe working conditions for Black workers.

Striking workers outside the Arcade BuildingPullman strikers outside Arcade Building in Pullman, Chicago. The Illinois National Guard can be seen guarding the building during the Pullman Railroad Strike in 1894.Photo credit: Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project

Riverside Heritage Park (Princeville, North Carolina)

Princeville was the nation’s first town founded by emancipated Black people after the Civil War. In 1999, the town was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Floyd. As part of the recovery, we helped Princeville purchase 11 acres for the town’s first park.

Well's Built Hotel (Orlando, Florida)

The Well's Built was one of the few hotels in segregated Orlando that welcomed Black people—including celebrities like Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. The Trust for Public Land helped conserve the building, which is now a museum dedicated to African American history and culture.

Well's Built HotelWell's Built Hotel, Orland, FloridaPhoto credit: Wikipedia

We're continuing to work alongside communities to preserve the places that matter, and to create a more accurate and equitable public memory of American history. Join us. 

 

Comments

Virginia Collins
Thank you very much for bringing this part of OUR history to me and others! I am still mad that we were not allowed to learn more when I was in school, during the 50"s, 60"s, 70"s, and 80"s. It helps to know that ALL Americans are being remembered for their "actual" history, rather than what the schools wanted us to know about all those years. Again, thank you!!!
Nina
Black History Month gives me profound hope in courage and perseverance. I feel so proud of the people behind the story and am thankful that Black History Month has opened up so much more history for all of us to learn the names and faces of our ancestors. They are not any different than current activists who take part in Black Lives Matter or those who show up to protest the travel ban on Muslims. I hope we all take courage and hope from these inspiring stories, but we all must not fall back on our heels. We must fight against economic deprivation and disenfranchisement.
Barbara Ellmaker
I'm standing with you
Tom Reeve
Another piece of Black History that The Trust for Public Land helped preserve was the the home of Colonel Charles Young, now Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. https://www.tpl.org/buffalo-soldier
Laura D’Alisera
I’m so proud of the Mandarin Historical Society which led to the preservation of one of the few remaining schoolhouses dedicated to teaching the children of freed slaves after the Civil War. It’s located in the municipally owned Walter Jones Park and curated by Mandarin Historic Society, Jacksonville FL.
Nadine Landreth
Well done!
Peter Carels
What place is that pictured in the header to this article?
TPL
Hi Peter, that's an image of a block at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.

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