African American Heritage

"People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them." - James Baldwin

Freemen-Field Bomb crew
Freemen Field Bomb Crew (Tuskegee Institute)

Air Force Historical Research Agency

In his 1944 study, An American Dilemma, Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal posed a question for Americans: How could they reconcile their nation’s ideals of equality, justice, and liberty when they lived in a society that enforced racial inequality? This “dilemma”—the uneasy coexistence of America’s democratic ideals with domestic policies that systematically marginalized African Americans and other peoples of color—has fundamentally shaped the cultural and political landscape of the United States. In order to understand our nation’s history, it is vital to understand how this has shaped the African American experience. Find these stories—from escaped slaves and abolitionists, to soldiers, intellectuals, and business entrepreneurs—preserved in our national parks and historic places. Read more »
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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.

Discover More African American Heritage

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    Last updated: June 24, 2021