11 inspiring African American history tours in the United States


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The story tells the story of the past, provides context for the present and potentially a glimpse into the future. As often, history repeats itself.

There is no better way to discover a place than by looking back. Historical tours can be invaluable. After a year where the breed has dominated the national conversation in a way not seen since the 1960s, there is an introspection and a quest for knowledge and understanding. Start this journey with a guided tour that teaches and entertains.

If self-guided tours allow you to go at your own pace, I’m all for guided tours. You can’t beat a passionate guide who knows history back and forth as they have experienced it. This insight is invaluable and increases the experience twofold.

Here are some African American history tours to put on your must-see list.

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, Memphis (Photo credit: TN Dept of Tourist Development)

1. Memphis Caravan Tour, Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour of Possibilities offers this 2.5-hour guided tour of African American history that you enjoy from the comfort of your own car. You hear the guide’s commentary through your car’s speakers by accessing the link provided upon arrival. Exploration includes sites like Slave Haven, where you descend the stairs into the dark, damp cellar and look through the hatches and hidden passages where the fugitives were housed, giving you a glimpse into those turbulent times. It also includes the National Civil Rights Museum / Lorraine Motel (where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated), Beale Street (nicknamed the Home of the Blues) and areas like Soulsville, South Memphis, Uptown, as well as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, I AM A MAN Plaza, and more. Admission is $ 66.

For more things to do in Memphis, Tennessee, check out these 16 Fantastic Day Trips from Memphis.

Mother Emanuel AME Church against the Charleston skyline on the 5th anniversary of the murder of 9 Bible study people.
Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston (Photo credit: Andrew Nordine / Shutterstock)

2. African American History and Heritage of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina

West Africa’s contribution to the heritage and history of the Lowcountry is indisputable. Bulldog Tours explores the influence and experience of African Americans in Charleston, from slavery and Jim Crow to the struggle for civil rights. Highlights of the 2-hour walking tour include important sites such as the Aiken Rhett House, Mother Emanuel AME Church, and the Philip Simmons Prayer Garden. Simmons was one of Charleston’s most famous 20th century blacksmiths. He has made over 500 decorative pieces of ornamental wrought iron gates, fences, balconies and window grilles that dot the Charleston landscape. Adults cost $ 37, kids 4-12 $ 27, and kids 3 and under are free.

3. Black History River Cruise, San Antonio, Texas

Twice a month, on the second Sunday and fourth Saturday, the San Antonio African American Community Archives and Museum and GO Rio River Cruises offer a 90-minute African American history tour. You’ll find out how the richest black man south of the Mason Dixon line got his start in San Antonio, learn about the location of the first ‘free’ school for African Americans in San Antonio, learn about the Afro- 14-year-old American student who helped change the history of San Antonio, and more. Admission is $ 25.

4. The Black Journey: African American History Walking Tour, Philadelphia, PA

This 90-minute tour begins in front of the Independence Visitor Center and continues through the city to some of the country’s most important and historic sites, such as the President’s House, Congress Hall, Old Town Hall, the first United States Supreme Court building, the American Philosophical Hall Society Museum, Independence Square, Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, and Bicentennial Moon Tree – the former site of the Philadelphia Prison site and the oldest land continuous belonging to people of African descent. You will go to Congo Square, visit the anonymous graves of the free and enslaved victims of the yellow fever epidemic and see where the Fugitive Slave Law was passed in 1793. Walk in the footsteps of slaves, abolitionists, slave owners and founding fathers. Tickets are $ 20 to $ 35.

James Brown Journey Stop with vinyl marker - Soul Bar in Augusta, Georgia.
James Brown Journey Stop with vinyl marker – Soul Bar in Augusta (Photo credit: Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau)

5. The historic visit of the James Brown family, Augusta, Georgia

Get on the right foot. The godfather of soul has a special place in black history. No one sang or danced like him. Cherish the memories with a private guided tour of her favorite haunts on a nearly 2-hour tour led by her daughter Deanna Brown-Thomas. You’ll visit his childhood home, places he hung out, restaurants, elementary school and more. Tours cost $ 15 per person and can be arranged through the James Brown Family Foundation.

6. Bird Watching The Harriet Tubman Byway, Bucktown, Maryland

Begin your 4-hour adventure at the Brodess Farm site in Bucktown. The guided walk and hike are for bird lovers. Harriet Tubman Tours and Delmarva Birding Weekends are sponsoring this adventure along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad in Dorchester County, Maryland. You will learn more about Tubman as you roam the farms, the Chesapeake Bay marshes and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, meeting some of the best bird and bald eagle watchers. The cost is $ 65 per person.

If you want to learn more about the Underground Railroad, head north on the Freedom Trail.

7. The real Black Wall Street Tour, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Despite the severity of the Tulsa Race Massacre, until the 100th anniversary of the massacre this year, little was known. This visit will give you an education that can be painful but insightful. The tour takes place in the historic Tulsa district in Greenwood. You will hear details of the people and buildings that were affected by the massacre, and the places that were bombed, including churches and schools. Be careful, you might need a handkerchief. You will pass through some of the neighborhoods that have been leveled. Admission is $ 15.

Museum of Afro-American History and Culture, Natchez.
Museum of African American History and Culture, Natchez (Photo credit: G. Douglas Adams Photography)

8. Black History Tour, Washington, DC

Washingtonian Christopher W. is committed to showing you what has been left out in textbooks when it comes to the contributions of African Americans with his Tours By Locals. While you’ll get what you expect – like the Lincoln Memorial and the spot where Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech – you’ll also venture to Frederick Douglass House, Lincoln Park, Howard University, Howard Theater, Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural, African American Civil War Memorial, and the Museum of African American History and Culture during the 6 hour tour. Admission is $ 500 for up to four people.

9. Gullah Tour, Sandy Island, South Carolina

Just south of Murrells Inlet is Sandy Island, where many of the 120 residents are descendants of Gullah Geechee, the culture that originated from West African slaves who worked the rice plantations in the 1700s. Start the 2-hour tour to the Sandy Island boat ramp and take a brief boat ride to Pyatt’s general store with its African heritage gifts, Gullah Sweetgrass baskets and more. Then you will board a van and tour the island to the Sandy Island Fire Hall, ancient graves, church, community center, library, and more. Admission is $ 35.

Freedom Crossing Monument, Niagara County, New York.
Freedom Crossing Monument, Niagara County (Photo credit: Grant Taylor Photography)

10. Freedom Seekers Heritage Tour, Niagara County, New York

The Niagara River and Gorge was an important crossing point to Canada for those using the Underground Railroad. For freedom seekers who crossed the Niagara frontier, the physical act of crossing the Niagara River was the final act of courage and determination at the end of a long journey. The Motherland Connextions tour takes you to key towns and sites. For over 3 hours, you’ll visit the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center with its exhibits, picturesque built environment, nearby murals by Harriet Tubman and freedom seekers, and more. In Lewiston, there is the Freedom Crossing Monument on the shore of the Niagara River. The statue honors the courage of freedom seekers who sought new life in Canada and those who aided them on their journey through Niagara. Murphy Orchards in Burt is a farm that secretly housed runaway slaves in a barn. Another place of refuge are the many canals. You will see the Erie Canal at Lockport. The tour costs $ 94 for adults and $ 67 for children.

Tourists gathered around a statue in Alexandria, Virginia, photographed by Chris Cruz of Visit Alexandria.
Tourists gathered around a statue in Alexandria (Photo credit: Chris Cruz / Visit Alexandria)

11. Duke Street Black History Walking Tour, Alexandria, Virginia

The 90-minute guided walking tour of Manumission along the Duke Street Corridor in Old Town Alexandria includes sites related to the start of the Alexandria slave trade, such as the former site of Franklin & Armfield and the former Bruin slave prison that housed the Edmonson sisters. The tour also includes sites related to the spirituality of early African Americans, such as the Shiloh Baptist Church and the Alexandria National Cemetery. You might also want to check out their other visits. The Freedom Fight in Alexandria walking tour highlights pre-Civil War history and tales of runaway slaves, early abolitionists and more. The Still Underground Railroad walking tour takes you along the downtown King Street corridor to hear about the Underground Railroad in Alexandria. The Alexandria Black History Bus Tour is a 2-hour guided tour that will take you to the Freedom House Museum, Alfred Street Baptist Church, the site of the 1939 library sit-in, Contraband and Freedman’s cemetery, and more. All Manumission tours cost $ 15 for adults and $ 12 for ages 12 and under.

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