[graphic header] National Register of Historic Places African American History Month

[graphic] Featured Properties

Newly Designated National Historic Landmarks:

The Land Office of the Gerrit Smith Estate
National Historic Landmark photograph [photo]
One of the barns used as a hiding place for fugitive slaves
National Historic Landmark photograph

Underground Railroad Sites:
Gerrit Smith Estate, Peterboro, New York
The Gerrit Smith Estate is significant for its strong associations with the life, business operations, and reform work of Gerrit Smith (1797-1874). Smith was a figure of national prominence in politics and social reform movements. Smithís wealth and numerous business ventures gave him the financial means to fund extensive reform efforts, mostly pertaining to abolition and temperance. Smith engaged in the abolition movement on numerous fronts, including active involvement in national Anti-Slavery societies, reform through political involvement, the Free Church movement, education reform, and land reform. Smith also openly defied the Fugitive Slave Act, and his estate in Peterboro provided a widely-recognized safe haven for refugees from enslavement en route to Canada. In addition, Smithís estate served as an important gathering place for abolitionists interested in discussing the issues of the day and planning political action. The estate's Land Office was the financial and real estate center of Smith's vast enterprise, and representative of Smith's abolitionist passions because it was his family's land-based wealth that provided him the opportunity to support this and other reform causes as well as providing property on which to resettle escaped slaves.

Images of the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Harriet Tubman Residence, and Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church
National Historic Landmarks photographs

Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, Harriet Tubman Residence, and Thompson AME Zion Church, New York
These properties illustrate Harriet Tubmanís life in Auburn, New York, between 1859 and 1913. They include: the Tubman Home for the Aged (designated in 1974), a charitable organization for aged and indigent African Americans which she founded; her residence; and, the Thompson AME Zion Church on Parker Street, where she worshipped. Harriet Tubman is most famous for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She dedicated her years in Auburn to selflessly and tirelessly looking after those who could not take care of themselves, and she did it with the same conviction that she was doing Godís will that she brought to her rescue work before the Civil War. Despite international fame, it was an on-going struggle for Harriet to carry on her charitable work due to lack of funds. And while the heroism of her underground railroad work has overshadowed other aspects of Harrietís remarkable life, character, and work, it is with these lesser known facts of her life that the sites in Auburn are interwoven.

[photo] Historic image of the Little Rock Nine and Daisy Bates (top row, second from right) posed in her living room
Historic image courtesy of the Library of Congress, part of the Visual Materials from the NAACP Records, cph 3c19154

Desegregation Theme Study
In 1998 the U.S. Congress authorized the National Park Service to prepare a National Historic Landmarks Theme Study on the history of racial desegregation in public education. The purpose of the study is to identify historic places that best exemplify and illustrate the historical movement to provide for a racially nondiscriminatory education. This movement is defined and shaped by constitutional law that first authorized public school segregation and later authorized desegregation. Properties identified in this theme study are associated with events that both led to and followed these judicial decisions. Several properties have recently been designated under this theme study.

[photo] A current view of the Daisy Bates House
National Historic Landmarks photograph

Daisy Bates House, Little Rock, Arkansas
The Daisy Bates House is nationally significant for its role as the de facto command post for the Central High School desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was the first time a President used federal powers to uphold and implement a federal court decision regarding school desegregation. Mrs. Daisy Lee Gaston Bates, who, with her husband Lucius Christopher (L.C.) Bates, resided at this address during the Central High School desegregation crisis in 1957-1958. The house served as a haven for the nine African American students who desegregated the school and a place to plan the best way to achieve their goals. Although this event is less than 50 years old, it marks an exceptionally significant threshold in the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Bizzell Library at the University of Oklahoma
National Historic Landmarks Photograph

Bizzell Library at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma's Bizzell Library is significant for its association with the historical movement to racially desegregate public higher education in the South in the mid-20th century and the federal government's position on eliminating racial segregation within a democratic society. The University played a role in a U.S. Supreme Court case that challenged the constitutionality of the separate but equal doctrine under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment whereby the Court ruled that separate but equal conditions were unattainable in graduate and professional education. Bizzell Library illustrates the segregated conditions under which an African American student attended the University and the case defined the South's stance on segregated education, federal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and the African American pursuit of equal education and civil rights.

Rankin Memorial Chapel, Douglass Memorial Hall and Founders Library, Howard University, Washington, DC
Howard University is nationally significant as the setting for the institution's role in the legal establishment of racially desegregated public education and for its association with two nationally recognized leaders of that fight: Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall. From 1929, Howard Law School became an educational training ground, through the vision of Charles Hamilton Houston, for the development of activist black lawyers dedicated to securing the Civil Rights of all people of color. Howard University also provided preparation of the legal strategy presented by Thurgood Marshall and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund (LDF) leading to the historic decisions in Brown v. Board of Education (1954, 1955) ending segregation in public education. The university represents the role that institutions of higher learning played in bringing about racial desegregation in education through the production of Civil Rights leaders and of academic research supporting the unconstitutionality of segregation. Howard University wholly contributed to and most perfectly represents: (1) the education of Civil Rights attorneys dedicated to legally securing desegregation, (2) the academic research supporting the unconstitutionality of segregation, and (3) the community outreach needed to challenge and define the interpretation of the United States Constitution in American society. No other university provided the same level of support to the desegregation fight.

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