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National parks highlight black experience

2/19/2016, 6:48 a.m.
From the oldest standing black church in the United States to the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, families can ...
The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail commemorates the events, people and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which was flooded with people on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

From the oldest standing black church in the United States to the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, families can celebrate Black History at seven national parks that are highlighting the integral role of African-Americans throughout February.

The parks – Boston African American National Historic Site, the Fort Davis National Historic Site, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, George Washington Carver National Monument, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail – are featured at www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/preserving-history-culture?utm_source=goparks&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=goparks2-16.

From Civil War sites to civil rights monuments, the National Park Foundation says that these parks provide an essential window into our past this month and year-round.

Boston African American National Historic Site

Located in the heart of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, the Boston African American National Historic Site is dedicated to the city’s 19th-century African-American community, which played a key role in the abolition movement. It features 15 historic pre-Civil War structures, including the 1806 African Meeting House, the oldest standing black church in the United States.

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Founded on the West Texas frontier in 1854, Fort Davis is one of the last remaining examples of a 19th-century U.S. Army fort. It is notable for having housed the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black cavalry and infantry regiments. Many of the 24 historic buildings that make up Fort Davis National Historic Site have been restored and are open for daily tours.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument

This new park honors the importance of the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman (circa 1820-1913), its most famous conductor, who led countless escaped slaves to freedom.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, which opened on March 25, 2013, pays tribute to her accomplishments and preserves the landscape of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she was born.

Dayton Aviation Heritage Historical Park

In addition to featuring sites that celebrate Dayton, Ohio, natives Wilbur and Orville Wright, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park includes the home of accomplished African-American poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House – the first house museum commemorating an African American – is open for guided tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

George Washington Carver Monument

Missouri’s George Washington Carver National Monument preserves the boyhood home of George Washington Carver (circa 1860-1943). In addition to the 1881 Moses Carver House, the monument includes more than 200 acres of rolling hills and forests, where Carver’s early connection with nature and agriculture took root.

When it was dedicated in 1943, it was the first national monument for an African-American and also the first honoring a non-president.

Tuskegee Airmen Historic Site

In the 1900s, African-Americans’ struggle for equality extended to the U.S. military, where opportunities were limited by quotas, exclusion and racial discrimination. Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site offers a tribute to the nearly 1,000 black World War II pilots who were the first to enter the Army Air Corps. Activities include museum exhibits, films, more than 20 wayside exhibits, and annual aviation events.

Selma to Montgomery Historic Trail

Jim Crow laws prevented the vast majority of African-Americans in Alabama from voting until the 1960s. On March 7, 1965, nonviolent protesters who sought the right to vote set out across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met by brutal violence from state troopers and the local Sheriff’s Department volunteers. The attack became known as Bloody Sunday.

The 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail was established by Congress in 1996 to commemorate the events, people, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama.