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8 Must-Visit African American Museums

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If you know your history, then you would know where you’re coming from. — Bob Marley, Buffalo Soilder

For more than 50 years, African-American museums have made it their primary mission to preserve and educate visitors from around the world on the history of African-Americans and their ancestors.

So whether you are planning your next family vacation or you just want to learn more about African-American heritage, no matter what time of year, we’ve got you covered.

African American Museum Of Dallas


The African American Museum was founded in 1974 as a part of the Special Collections at Bishop College, a historically black college that closed in 1988. The Museum has operated independently since 1979. It has one of the largest African American Folk Art collections in the US.

Location:  3536 Grand Avenue Dallas, TX  75210.

African American Museum of Iowa


The African American Museum of Iowa was founded by a small group of members of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids in 1993. During the flood of 2008, they  took on 5.5 feet of water and closed for several months to repair and rebuild. The museum reopened in January.

Location: 55 12th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.

National Museum of African American History and Culture


It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

Location:  1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560.

National Museum of African Art (NMAfA)


It began as a private educational institution in 1964 to promote cross-cultural understanding in the social sciences and arts. In August 1979, by enactment of Public Law 95-414, the museum became part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

Location: 950 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20560

African American Firefighter Museum (AAFFM)


The AAFFM opened it’s doors as a Museum on December 13, 1997. The dedication of the Museum also served as the acknowledgement of what was believed to be the city’s first 100 years of service by African American Firefighters (1897-1997). In 2002, the Los Angeles Times contacted the AAFFM and stated they had discovered factual information to indicate the history started before 1897 with a man named Sam Haskins, who was listed as the first Los Angeles Fireman of African decent when he was hired in 1892 and killed while responding to a fire in 1895.

Location : 1401 South Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA  90021.

African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO)


The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations. AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library, a jewel for researchers, students, and anyone interested in African American history. Its collection consists of approximately 12,000 volumes by or about African Americans.

Location: 659 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612.

The African American Museum in Cleveland


The African American Museum of Cleveland, founded in 1953 by Icabod Flewellen is the first independent African American museum in the Americas. Its mission is to store, share, and educate the public on contributions made to the world by people of African descent.

Location:  1765 Crawford Rd. Cleveland, OH 44120.

America's Black Holocaust Museum


America's Black Holocaust Museum educates the public about the ongoing injustices endured by people of African heritage in America and provides visitors with opportunities to rethink their assumptions about race and racism. America's Black Holocaust Museum, which closed in 2008 because of financial problems, has reopened in a virtual space where users can interact and contribute in 21st- century ways.

Thanks to seven volunteers and a $10,000 grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Milwaukee museum is continuing its mission of providing access to key parts of black history, from pre-captivity in Africa to slavery in the U.S. through segregation and legal rights, on a newly launched website.

The museum is adding interactive features, from photographs and videos to educational games and comment sections. Users can ask questions of curators and also contribute their own information, for instance by adding details about a lynching victim or uploading a video or text about the impact of the museum's founder on their lives and thoughts. A panel of scholars will be reviewing submissions to decide whether to include a contribution online.

Do you know of any other museums or memorials in the United States focused on African American History? Share the name and state below!

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