The Search for Black History: Parents Can Help to Expose Their Children to the Richness of Their Culture in a Variety of Ways

Article excerpt

In this world, where Black History is not a major part of the educational curriculum, more parents are taking the lead in contributing to the cultural development of their children through a number of family experiences-trips to museums, Black History tours, theater and national historic sites and landmarks that showcase the major contributions of African-Americans.

In celebration and recognition of Black History Month, the following are some ideas to help parents educate their children:

National Parks

While most people may not associate the National Park Foundation with Black History, there is a treasure trove of information that exists within 20 historic sites for families to discover. "Many people aren't aware that the places are there" says Cynthia Lowery Morris, executive director for the African-American Experience Fund, which lists more than 20 sites within the National Park Foundation.

* Boston African-American National Historic Site, Boston

A 1.6-mile trail that families can follow links 15 pre-Civil War African-American history structures of a free Black community.

* Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, Topeka, Kan.

Located inside Monroe Elementary School, which was one of four segregated elementary schools in Topeka before the landmark Supreme Court decision ended legal segregation.

* Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Woodson's office and book warehouse are part of the African-American Heritage Trail of Washington, D.C.

* Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta

The birth home of the famed civil rights leader on Auburn Avenue can be viewed where King spent the first 12 years of his life. Also included are Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center.

* Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, Washington, D.C.

A Victorian townhouse purchased by Bethune was the head quarters of the National Council of Negro Women. Tours of the site will reveal the largest archival collection of African-American women.

* Natchez National Historic Park, Natchez, Miss.

Includes the home and retail shop of William Johnson, who had been emancipated and became a middleclass businessman, diarist and slave owner.

* Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, Selma, Lowndes and Montgomery counties, Ala.

Families can tour a 54-mile trail of the historic march that culminated into the Voters Rights Act of 1965 and includes the "Bloody Sunday" site, the Dallas County Court House, George Washington Carver homes and the First Baptist Church in Selma.

* Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Tuskegee, Ala.

Scheduled to open in 2012, this site will include the airfield, hangar and various buildings where the first African-American military pilots were trained.

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A number of museums focus on Black History and culture and can make fascinating family daytrips. Social historians say that it's good to turn these trips into a family affair, which is what Teresa Moore and her husband, Aaron, do with their children, Rio, 11, Sierra, 9, and Roman, 6. The children's grandmother also escorts the kids on a weekly outing, which often includes a trip to the California African-American Museum in L.A. "Their grandmother is very strong in Black heritage" says Moore. "It was on the agenda since they were born. There's so much negativity on TV and in the news, we like to do things that are positive" There are many other great museums that parents can visit during a weekend getaway or vacation destination. …