Do you know about the groundbreaking exploits of Colonel Charles Young, a military hero who was the first African American superintendent of a national park? How about York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their historic journey to the west? Or the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, a friend and business associate of Orville Wright?
Find out more about them and many other notable African Americans at www.nps.gov/history/aahistory. In addition to information about parks and programs associated with African American history, the National Park Service website contains information about sites on the National Register of Historic Places, the Civil War to Civil Rights commemoration, the Underground Railroad, Teaching with Historic Places lesson plans, travel itineraries, and diversity internships.
“During African American History Month, and throughout the year, national parks tell the stories of African American achievement,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The history and rich culture of African Americans are commemorated at dozens of parks, including Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Yosemite National Park, Nicodemus National Historic Site, and New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.”
Visit www.nps.gov for a list of African American History Month events. Highlights include month-long exhibits at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, Saratoga National Historical Park, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. There will be a film festival each weekend at Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Reenactors, period music, reflections, and speeches will mark the great orator’s 194th birthday at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. Cultural traditions that originated in the plantation period will be featured at the Annual Kinglsey Heritage Celebration at Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
The National Park Service works to reflect the complete history of the United States. In the last five years, five new national parks with direct ties to African American history have been established. Fort Monroe National Monument is a former Army post integral to the history of slavery.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial honors the renowned Civil Rights leader. Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial is the site of a tragic accident that accelerated military desegregation. The African Burial Ground National Monument contains one of the country’s most significant archeological sites. The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site preserves the house of the director of operations of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
“I encourage every American to take advantage of the benefits of their national parks,” said Jarvis. “Every one of the 397 national parks has been set aside by the President or by Congress because of its significance. Some preserve amazing natural features, others a piece of our collective history. There are urban parks and rural parks. Some are close enough for everyday use and others are a once-in-a lifetime experience. If you have not yet discovered a national park, it’s time to come and be inspired.”