Black History Month

Every February during Black History Month and throughout the year, the National Park Service and our partners share stories, rich culture, and an invitation for all Americans to reflect on Black history in parks and communities across the country. More than 400 years of Black history and heritage—including achievements, contributions, and historical journeys—are remembered and commemorated in places preserved for current and future generations.

Inspired by something you've learned or have a memorable national park experience to share? Join the conversation on social media using #BlackHistoryMonth and #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque.
Collage of Harriet Tubman photos and illustration

Sharing History & Heritage

Discover Black history and cultural heritage shared in national parks and communities across the country.

19th-century military reenactor next to a sign for Reconstruction Era National Monument

Featured Places

The history and heritage of Black Americans are preserved and shared in many parks across the country. Explore some featured places.

Group of kids holding park entrance passes next to a sign for "Tuskegee Airmen"

Educators Portal

Find distance learning opportunities, lesson plans, and other educational material about history and heritage for all age groups.

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Duration:
4 minutes, 25 seconds

Developed by a group of NPS staff and interns, this film explores the trauma, resilience, and beauty of the African American experience in our country.

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    Historical photo of Dr. Carter G. Woodson
    Dr. Carter G. Woodson, pictured c.a. 1915, is universally known as the "Father of Black History."

    Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, NMAH, Smithsonian Institution

    Origins of Black History Month

    Black History Month, or African American History Month, began as a weeklong celebration in 1926. Since the 1890s, Black communities celebrated the birthdays of two people considered to have a big impact on Black history in the US: Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson was one of many people who traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in a national celebration of the 50th anniversary of nationwide emancipation. He was inspired by experiences from his trip to create an organization to promote the study of Black life and history. Soon after he helped to form what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the sponsors of Black History Month.

    Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to institutionalizing the field of Black history, including by advocating that it be a regular part of formal education. In 1926, he created the celebration of "Negro History Week" during the second week of February timed with the birthdays of Lincoln and Douglass. Dr. Woodson and other advocates provided educational materials each year, such as lesson plans, pictures, scripts for historical performances, and posters. Fifty years later, the weeklong celebration became a month long and has been recognized by presidential proclamation every year since.

    Visitor looking out a window at a row of townhouses

    Carter G. Woodson Home NHS

    Walk in the footsteps of Dr. Carter where Black History Month began in his DC home and headquarters.

    Desk with a typewriter and old telephone

    Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS

    The National Council of Negro Women in DC helped promote "Negro History Week" and created a national archive for Black women's history.

    Featured Stories

    The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, our official partner, continues to organize a nationwide effort to celebrate Black History Month and recommends themes each year. During this Black History Month, the National Park Service and our partners are exploring stories about Black families, representation, identity, and diversity of past and present as told through national parks and through our programs and partnerships.

    Two-story white house on a big lawn

    This Month's National Park Getaway

    Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio remembers the legacy of legendary soldiers and a distinguished American leader.

    Rainbow over a field of crops

    "Oh, Nicodemus!"

    A short film woven together by a poem explains the epic story of an enduring town founded by former enslaved Americans settling in Kansas.

    Face of a metal statue of Harriet Tubman

    Black Women and the Fight for Equality

    Black women have always served on the front-line in the fight for equality. Follow the journeys of some influential advocates in US history.

    Portrait of Michelle Duster

    A Great-Granddaughter's Reflections

    One hundred years later, Michelle Duster reflects on the the life and legacy of prominent civil rights leader Ida B. Wells.

    Marker indicating where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream Speech"

    Retracing the Path of Bayard Rustin

    An organizer of iconic protests during the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin advocated for Black and LBGTQ communities.

    Illustration of a cowboy throwing lariat

    Engaging with Cowpoke History

    Learn more about Black cowboys and cowgirls making a life out in the American West during the 19th century.

    Small wooden school house on a prairie

    Homesteaders on the Great Plains

    Explore the places and personal journeys of Black Americans homesteading throughout all the Great Plains states during the 19th century.

    Historic black and white photo of a group of Black soldiers preparing halibut

    Black History in the Last Frontier

    A new publication explores the achievements and contributions of Alaska's Black community while they endured many challenges.

    Black and white photo of a man standing next to a road paver

    Every American's Conflict

    A short film explores the experiences and contributions of African Americans in Chickamauga before, during, and after the Civil War.

    Bas-relief of a soldier on horseback riding along a line of marching soldiers

    Story Keeper of the 54th Massachusetts

    After serving in the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Luis Emilio published a book to share the story a "A Brave Black Regiment."

    Two underwater divers looking a something with a tape measurer

    Youth Diving With a Purpose

    Black youth are training in underwater archeology to make sure maritime heritage and people's stories are not forgotten, ignored, or lost.

    A Continuing Tradition of Service

    Before the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, predominantly Black US Army calvary regiments known as "Buffalo Soldiers" served as the first rangers for the country's new national parks. In the summer of 1903, Captain Charles Young became the first Black national park superintendent when his troops were tasked to manage and protect Sequoia National Park. Today a tradition of service continues with employees, volunteers, interns, and partners in many National Park Service career fields, including natural and cultural resource management, law enforcement, interpretation, administration, and much more.

    Park ranger going over a Junior Ranger book with a kid

    Become an Employee

    Learn more about permanent and seasonal jobs with the National Park Service in a wide range of career fields.

    Female volunteer looking through telescope

    Volunteer

    Help care for your national parks by volunteering during a one-time event or on a reoccurring basis.

    Group of kids on a boat stern

    Partnerships

    Create possibilities to preserve America's treasures in national parks and communities across the country for all Americans to enjoy.

    Park ranger showing something in his hand to three interns

    Internships

    Jumpstart a career through internship programs to get hands-on experience in a variety of career fields.

    Intern holding a GPS unit and wearing a backpack GPS device

    Spotlight on Mosaics in Science

    The Mosaics in Science Internship Program provides youth from under-represented communities experience in natural resource science careers.

    Portrait of an intern outside near a body of water

    Spotlight on HBCUI Program

    The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Internship Program gets participants engaged in stewardship of public lands.

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      Featured Parks and Places

      More than 400 years of Black history and heritage is found in national parks or shared through National Park Service programs and partners in communities across the country. Discover a few places in the National Park System or networks in communities across the country.

      • Logo for the African American Civil Rights Network that includes the silhouette of a girl on a flag

        African American Civil Rights Network

        A new network of sites across the country tells the story of the African American Civil Right Movement.

      • Star-shaped logo and text reading

        Network to Freedom

        Explore more than 600 places nationwide that are part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

      • Long one-story tan building with a brown roof

        Reflecting on the Reconstruction Era

        The new Reconstruction Era National Historic Network connects sites that tell the story of this defining time in American history.

      • Historic black and white photo of the inside of a church

        National Register of Historic Places

        Thousands of historic places in neighborhoods around the country that preserve Black history and heritage are recognized on the register.

      • Bas-relief of a Civil War soldier

        Boston African American NHS

        The African American community of 19th-century Boston led the city and the nation in the fight against slavery and injustice.

      • Bust of Booker T. Washington in front of a brick building

        Tuskegee Institute NHS

        In 1881, Booker T. Washington began building a school—and its reputation—for Black students to have quality educational opportunities.

      • Tall brick building with a prominent clock tower

        Pullman National Monument

        The first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor was based in Pullman.

      • Yellow plane in a hanger

        Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

        Before the first African American military pilots became known as the "Red Tails," they began their reputation in the skies above Tuskegee.

      • Very large and long brick high school building

        Little Rock Central High School

        In 1957, a group of high schoolers known as the "Little Rock Nine" risked their safety to open the doors of all schools to every student.

      • Mural of a Greyhound bus on a brick wall

        Freedom Riders National Monument

        In 1961, a small interracial band of “Freedom Riders” risked their lives to challenge discriminatory segregation laws for interstate travel.

      • Row of house on a city street

        Martin Luther King, Jr. NHP

        One of the nation's most influential civil rights advocates, Dr. King's vision for the country moved hearts and minds.

      • Hands weaving a colorful basket

        Gullah Geechee Heritage

        The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor shares traditions of descendants of West and Central Africans that continue today.

      Trip Ideas

      Parks and partners have suggestions for self-guided activities to learn more about Black history and heritage. You can also find a park to begin planning your own visit and get tips to recreate responsibly.

      Large red brick church with two spires

      "We Shall Overcome" Travel Itinerary

      Connect churches, private residences, and public sites of protest that spoke to the history of the African American Civil Rights Movement.

      Several scuba divers communicating underwater

      Travel Florida Shipwrecks

      The Diving with a Purpose program and other underwater archeologists are part of an effort to document shipwrecks off the Florida coast.

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        Last updated: January 18, 2022