Each February, the U.S. observes Black History Month to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans and the central role they played in shaping the country’s history. But when I thought of planning a quick weekend trip and turned to Google to identify inspiring things to do and see during the period, I found myself stuck. 99% of the searches returned results based on visiting museums, historical sites, and memorials dedicated to either revisiting the horrors of slavery or documenting the painful struggle to end segregation.
Slavery happened. It is an important part of our collective history. And in no way, shape or form am I advocating for it to be sugar-coated. Nor do I want the selfless and tireless work of great civil rights leaders and activists like Martin Luther King Jnr. and Harriet Tubman to ever be downplayed or forgotten.
However, I found myself wondering why I couldn’t find more comprehensive listings of tours, sites, locations and experiences that paid homage to other aspects of the black experience and culture. Of course, the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the U.S. Civil Rights Trail are powerful entities that provide valuable context to the post 1960s socio-economic and political landscape. But when all is said and done, the African-American story isn’t one-dimensional.
Where is the curated list of museums showcasing the work of black inventors, researchers, educators, and scientists? There must have been prolific thinkers other than the late, great George Washington Carver.
Which galleries and libraries nationwide house the paintings, sculptures and books of our most talented creatives, and which urban or metropolitan cities boast epic street art sure to be a draw for photo enthusiasts?
Is there an app or guide travelers can use to pinpoint the performance venues, cocktail bars, and clubs that nurture black dancers, actors, musicians, and spoken word artistes? And where do epicureans looking to join a food tour or dine on soul-infused meals go to find culinary delights prepared by outstanding black chefs or skilled, home-taught cooks? Does a list of black-owned hotels, tour operators and attractions in America exist anywhere?
Even with multiple mouse clicks, I kept coming up with slim pickings.
Next year, I’d love to be able to share a good mix of itinerary suggestions that pay tribute to the full tapestry of textures that form the African-American narrative. Let’s work together to crowdsource that dream list, shall we? And whatever the outcome, we’ll let the public know it’s available year-round.
Please share at least one relevant place, activity or experience below. Thank you!