GREAT PLACES TO VISIT

Across America, local leaders, historians, artist, preservationist, foundations, private investors and others have come together to preserve and revitalize these historic places into cultural destinations. Through various placemaking initiatives many historic towns have been able to create public gathering spaces that commemorate, celebrate and highlight the history of their community. Through our work, we promote cultural heritage tourism by coordinating with historic towns. We encourage people to make visits to these places throughout the year to learn and experience their true essence and culture. 

Because we are all on this journey together to save these historic places that served as sanctuaries for free people of color, we will assist to help your family, school or church group. For more information, please contact our Heritage Tourism Director at tourism@preservingcommunitiesofcolor.org

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THE MAGIC OF CROWN HEIGHTS BROOKLYN!

Weeksville CULTURE CENTER

Weeksville, one of New York’s first free black communities, was established in 1838. Its residents were farmers, craftsman, artists and musicians. They played an integral part in Brooklyn’s abolitionist movement. The village became a destination for free blacks trying to escape more oppressive areas in the South and surrounding slave states like New Jersey in lieu of emigrating to Africa, Canada or the Caribbean.

Weeksville was rediscovered in 1968 when students in a community survey class at Pratt Institute uncovered the village’s existence while studying old city maps and directories. Their professor, Jim Hurley, confirmed their findings when he spotted a handful of 19th-century structures still intact during a fly over of the area.

Archeological excavations over the past 50 years have unearthed thousands of artifacts dating back to Weeksville’s founding. In 1838 John Weeks bought land–a prerequisite to becoming a voter in New York at the time–and established the settlement that at one point swelled to some 700 families. The 19,000-square-foot Education and Cultural Arts Center promotes the history of the neighborhood’s early inhabitants through exhibitions, community events and talks and offers year round programming. Plan a visit to New York and stop by the center to learn about this rich cultural treasure. 

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The annual parade held on Labor Day celebrates culture from a variety of Caribbean nations, including Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Barbados and Belize.

Tia Powell Harris, Executive Director of Weeksville Heritage Center. She leads efforts to expand its education, programming and research capabilities and elevate its standing as one of the nation’s leading centers for African American history and culture. 

THEY DANCED ALL NIGHT IN CONGO SQUARE!

New Orleans ‘Treme’ Neighborhood

Treme’ is one of the oldest African American residential district in the United States, this neighborhood has been home to political, economic and cultural events that over the past two centuries have shaped black America and helped define the city’s culture. Claude Tremé, a French hatmaker who inherited the land from his wife’s family, began to subdivide and sell off plots of land in the late 1700s. New Orleans, unlike other Southern cities at the time, was populated by free people of color, who quickly moved into the neighborhood. Slaves and freed blacks were permitted to mingle each Sunday in nearby Congo Square, where they sold goods, played homemade drums, and danced traditional African dances. 

Today, Tremé is on the upswing as many descendants are coming back to celebrate the rich history of Treme’ at the multiple Festivals held throughout the year. Some real estate developers are restoring old homes as affordable housing for displaced families.

Learn more about Treme’: http://treme7thwardcd.org/ and http://www.hfta.org/

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PLACES TO VISIT IN TREME’

Mahalia Jackson Theatre
The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts is a historic arts venue located in the city’s famous Armstrong Park. A cultural hub within NOLA, The Mahalia Jackson Theater hosts a diverse variety of performance and musical events, including operas, plays, and dance shows.

Armstrong Park
It was in this neighborhood, officially known as the Faubourg Tremé, that jazz music was born! Armstrong Park is a public park that honors the jazz great, Louis Armstrong. The park is filled with iconic, arched gateways and inside you’ll find sites like Congo Square (a historic meeting place for slaves in the 1800s), sculptures, duck ponds and lots of open spaces for relaxing.

Congo Square
In the southwest corner of Armstrong Park, just to the left of the main entrance, you’ll see what remains of Congo Square. Congo Square served as a place where enslaved Africans could freely gather on Sundays to play music, sing, dance, and worship. The tribal beats and rhythms often heard at these gatherings blended with European brass music to form the roots of American jazz.

Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) is the land where the Blues began, where Rock and Roll was created and where Gospel remains a vibrant art. It is an agricultural region where cotton was once king, and where ‘precision-ag’ rules today. It is a place that saw the struggles of the Civil War and the cultural revolution of the Civil Rights Movement. It is the home of the Great Migration, and a land of rich culinary, religious, artistic and literary heritage.

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States designated by Congress that tell nationally important stories, celebrating our nation’s diverse heritage.

HARRIET’S PATH ALONG THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Take a powerful and inspiring journey to the places on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where Tubman lived, worked, worshiped, and led others out of slavery. The Maryland Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway is a 125-mile driving route featuring 36 significant sites, including the National Historical Park Visitor Center

In 1822, Araminta Ross was born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland. Later in life, “Minty” would assume her mother’s given name and her husband’s surname and become Harriet Tubman. Today she is known as the most celebrated conductor of the Underground Railroad, a secret network of people, routes, and safe houses designed to help slaves in the American South escape to freedom in the North during the early 19th century.

Learn more about planning a visit to this historic place. Click here

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FIVE POINTS NEIGHBORHOOD IN DENVER

One of Denver’s most culturally vibrant neighborhoods, Five Points is a tradition in itself. Soul food, Caribbean spice and mouth watering BBQ add flavor to one of the city’s richest heritages. The area got its name in 1881 courtesy of the streetcar line that served the neighborhood: All the names of the final stop—the intersection of Welton, 27th, and Washington streets and 26th Avenue—wouldn’t fit on the car’s sign. So they simply called it “Five Points.”

Each year, the annual Five Points JazzFest is a hats off to what is sometimes referred to as the Harlem of the West, a place where greats like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis used to play at clubs like the Rainbow Room and the Rossonian. When a Black musician was brought in to play at a gig in downtown Denver, they weren’t allowed to stay the night in the hotels down there, so they’d roomed in Five Points at the Rossonian hotel.

The Black American Museum, which pays tribute to the region’s strong African American culture, is tucked among its Victorian architecture. 

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The Black American West Museum preserves the history and culture of those African American men and women who helped settle and develop the American West. Located in the former home of Dr. Justina Ford, the first Black woman doctor in Denver. They have exhibits on African American cowboys including Bill Pickett. 

EMANCIPATION PARK & HOUSTON’S FREEDOM TRAIL

THIRD WARD: Houston, Texas

Emancipation Park, the city’s oldest public green space and the soul of the Third Ward’s African-American community for 145 years, suddenly looks spectacular.former slaves settled, creating an area known as Freedmen’s Town. The park was the home of the first colored carnival in 1909. The carnival was patterned after the NO-TSU-OH Carnival and it included a wild wild west show and a football game between Bishop College and Prairie View University.

Emancipation Park was created in 1872 when the Rev. Jack Yates and a group of fellow formerly enslaved people raised $800 to buy the land to make a space for Juneteenth Celebrations, The park was also a key site for peaceful rallies during the heyday of Houston’s civil rights movement as well as tense standoffs with police, including the killing of Black Panther Carl Hampton on an adjacent block.

This park tells the stories of African-American communities all over America. Today, Emancipation Park is a newly renovated campus and major attraction for Houston.

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VISITOR ATTRACTIONS

ALLENWORTH, CALIFORNIA

In 1908 four black men formed the California Colony and Home Promoting Association. The Association purchased 20 acres along the Santa Fe Rail line from the Pacific Farming Company, at a railway stop called Solita. They divided this land into individual parcels to form the first town in California to be founded, financed, and governed by blacks. Soon after the town was founded the name was changed to Allensworth in honor of the association’s president Allen Allensworth.
 
By the year 1914 the town would not only have a schoolhouse it would become California’s first African American school district.  It became a judicial district, had a Baptist church, a hotel, and a library that would be made part of the Tulare County free library system. The year 1914 also brought a number of setbacks to the town. First, much of the town’s economic base was lost when the Santa Fe Railroad moved its rail stop from Allensworth to Alpaugh.  In September, during a trip to Monrovia, California, Colonel Allensworth was crossing the street when he was struck and killed by a motorcycle. The town refuses to die. The downtown area is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park where thousands of visitors come from all over California to partake in the special events held at the park during the year.  The area outside of the state park is also still inhabited.
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IT’S ALL ABOUT ZORA! EATONVILLE, FLORIDA

Founded in August 1887, Eatonville, is the first incorporated all-black city in Florida. It is also the childhood home of Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance writer known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. As a result, the Zora Neal Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts hosts an annual festival in Eatonville, a still-thriving town. Eatonville no longer is a backwoods town in a rural area, as described in Hurston’s novels. Eatonville remains, however, a cultural gem – one that beckons you to visit.

Each year in January, the Town of Eatonville celebrates the life and heritage of Zora and her town. Attracting more than 15, 000 people each year the festival is close to celebrating a 30 year anniversary. If you are traveling to Orlando, Florida in January, it is imperative that you stop and visit this quaint town and attend the multi-day festival featuring live bands, craft vendors, museum tours, culinary excursions and home grown gardens. For more information or to schedule a tour of the town, please contact us. We’d be glad to point you in the right direction.

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    Art Vendors at Zorafest!
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    Crowds at Zorafest!
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    Zorafest! attendees
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Preserving Communities