National Parks Associated with African Americans: An Ethnographic Perspective


Click on the map to explore national parks associated with African Americans.

  1. 1 | 

    Andersonville National Historic Site, GA

    This unit was the site of an infamous Civil War prisoner-of-war camp for captured Union soldiers, including many African Americans. African American slaves from neighboring farms were forced to build the prison in 1864. The Confederacy threat to sell the African American prisoners of war into slavery and to execute their white officers ended prisoner exchanges during the conflict. African Americans were among the 13,000 service persons interred in the cemetery. The site commemorates the sacrifices of American prisoners not only in the 1861-1865 conflict but all wars.

  2. 2 | 

    Cane River Creole National Historic Park, LA

    The park preserves significant landscapes, sites, and structures associated with African American communities, in both urban and rural settings, including Oakland Plantation, outbuildings of Magnolia Plantation, and the Natchitoches Historic District.

  3. 3 | 

    Castillo De San Marcos National Monument, FL

    Fugitive African Americans fleeing from slavery in the British Carolina Colony found refuge with the Spanish in Florida. The city of St. Augustine, where the Castillo is located, represents the oldest settlement in the U.S. continuously occupied by African Americans and Europeans. Fort Mose, a National Historic Landmark near the monument, was established in 1738 and is the earliest legally sanctioned free African American settlement. As a destination for runaways, it was a precursor to the Underground Railroad. Fort Mose is a stop on the National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary for the Underground Railroad.

  4. 4 | 

    Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA

    Several plantations, including Stafford where slave cabins have been found, were located on Cumberland Island. Freed African Americans who left the plantations to meet the advancing Union army settled the north end of the island. The Army first treated these fugitives as "contraband" of war. Contrabands were responsible for their own subsistence and shelter. They often worked for the Army as laborers, nurses, and in some cases, soldiers and spies. After the Emancipation Proclamation, they were considered free. Half Moon Bluff Historic District also on Cumberland Island includes cemeteries where freed men and women are buried and structures where African Americans lived from the 1930s until the 1950s.

  5. 5 | 

    Everglades National Park, FL

    This park is in one of the areas identified in the UGRR Special Resource Study as a destination for runaway slaves. Selected Routes of the Underground Railroad shows the Everglades in the context of the many routes that African Americans took to escape slavery. Seminole Indians harbored fugitive slaves, whose offspring came to be known as Black Seminoles, and integrated them into their society for over 100 years.

  6. 6 | 

    Fort Donelson National Battlefield, TN

    After the Union victory at the fort, slaves flocked to the area seeking protection. Instead, many were held as laborers by the northern army. In 1862, the North declared that southern slaves who crossed into Union territory would be confiscated and emancipated. A Freedmen's Camp sprang up at Fort Donelson around 1863. In that year, several freedmen fought with the Union during a Confederate attack. The Fort later became a recruiting station for African Americans soldiers. The 119th U.S.C.T and the Fourth Colored Artillery (Heavy) fought in a conflict in 1864 and were praised for their bravery. In 1867, the area that is now Fort Donelson National Cemetery became a burial ground for Union soldiers with 14 soldiers from the United States Colored Troops being buried here.

  7. 7 | 

    Fort Frederica National Monument, GA

    From around 1795 to the end of the Civil War, St. Simon's Island contained several plantations, including Hamilton Plantation and Retreat Plantation. Ibo Landing is associated with a legend about men and women from the Ibo tribe in Nigeria who decided to commit suicide in Dunbar Creek rather than become slaves. Robert Sangstache Abbot, founder of the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, was the child of former slaves on a St. Simon plantation. He honored his family's background in slavery by erecting an obelisk for his father and two aunts on the grounds of this park in the 1930s.

  8. 8 | 

    Fort Pulaski National Monument, GA

    When Fort Pulaski was taken by Union forces in 1862, Union Major General David Hunter freed all slaves at the fort and on Cockspur Island. Fort Pulaski became a destination for runaway enslaved African Americans along the Underground Railroad. Many newly freed African Americans joined the Union army to form the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, one of the first African American regiments. Today this site is a member for the National Network to Freedom.

  9. 9 | 

    Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, LA

    New Orleans has multiple associations for African Americans. French speaking African slaves, free persons of color, and former slaves from the Caribbean and Confederate states contributed to the cultural heritage of the region. The park is composed of a number of smaller units, including the site of the War of 1812 Chalmette Battlefield in which freemen and Creoles of color participated in the Battle of New Orleans. African Americans are buried in the national cemetery on the site. An African American community, Fazendville, developed shortly after the Battle of New Orleans. The over 100-year-old community was displaced with the expansion of the park in 1964.

  10. 10 | 

    Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, GA

    The birthplace, churches, and grave of Dr. King, Jr. are parts of this site, a stop on the National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary for the civil rights movement. The Sweet Auburn Historic District, where the park is located, was the economic and cultural center of Atlanta's African American community during the first part of the 20th-century. The site also includes The King Center, which continues Dr. King's work in non-violent social change and contains his gravesite.

  11. 11 | 

    New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, LA

    Armstrong Park, the future site of this national park, includes Congo Square in its southern corner. African American slaves used the square as a meeting and market place where they performed African music and dance traditions. Enslaved West Africans began arriving in New Orleans c. 1721. A large free and slave population grew quickly with Caribbean and West Indian people arriving also. African Americans from English-speaking territories began arriving in large numbers after the Louisiana Purchase. Creoles of color also formed a large community in the city. Each of these communities contributed to the development of jazz. Today, African American traditions associated with jazz continue to be practiced by communities in New Orleans. Benevolent societies conduct jazz funerals, social and pleasure clubs parade through the city, and marching and walking clubs parade during Mardi Gras. Traditional jazz venues continue to hold live performances. These and many other organizations help keep jazz alive among African Americans in New Orleans today.

  12. 12 | 

    Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, AL

    On March 7, 1965, a march for voting rights legislation left Brown Chapel AME in Selma, Alabama heading for Montgomery. State troopers forcefully turned back the marchers after they crossed Pettus Bridge. People across the nation were shocked by this outbreak of violence, which came to be known as "Bloody Sunday" and was televised widely. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a second march on March 9 but returned to Brown Chapel after saying prayers at Pettus Bridge. A third march began on March 21 under the protection of the National Guard and arrived at the state capital on March 25. By drawing attention to the struggle for voting rights, these events were a catalyst for the August 1965 signing of the Voting Rights Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This site is a part of the National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary for the civil rights movement.

  13. 13 | 

    Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, FL

    One of this park's three units is Kingsley Plantation. Even though U.S. federal law had abolished slave trade in 1808, Zephaniah Kingsley evaded restrictions and brought in slaves on his own fleet of ships. Kingsley married a slave, Anna Madegigine Jai, daughter of a Senegalese tribal leader. Anna Jai Kingsley supervised domestic life of the plantation and became a successful businesswoman eventually owning her own property. Due to increasingly harsh laws against African Americans in Florida, the Kingsleys moved their family to eastern Haiti, now the Dominican Republic, where their descendents live today.

  14. 14 | 

    Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, AL

    In 1881, the Normal School for Colored Teachers opened in Tuskegee, Alabama under the leadership of its first president, Booker T. Washington, who stressed the importance of vocational training. One of the school's most renowned researchers and teachers was George Washington Carver. Today, Tuskegee University has broadened its programs considerably while continuing to be a historically black college focused on preparing students to help their communities. Legends of Tuskegee is an online exhibit about Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Airmen, and George Washington Carver.

  15. 15 | 

    Virgin Islands National Park, VI

    The park covers part of St. John's Island where for over 250 years workers of African descent, first enslaved and then free, toiled on the sugar plantations and in subsistence farming for themselves. Local Afro-Caribbean communities continue to use beaches and to fish.

    Water Island includes the remains of two plantations. By 1799, these plantations were both owned by freed men of color and worked by slaves. The Carolina Point Plantation has been excavated, and the site of a slave village was located.