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10 places to learn about Black history in North America

10 places to learn about Black history in North America featured image

Black History Month is observed annually each February since it was recognized by the Government of Canada in the House of Commons in 1995. This month is dedicated to remembering, educating, and celebrating the achievements of Black communities. While the accomplishments of Black individuals and the modern civil rights movement are important to recognize and celebrate every month of the year, February is a particularly significant time to focus on them both in and outside the classroom. We’ve got you covered with some of our best recommendations for destinations to learn about Black history across North America.


This month is dedicated to remembering, educating, and celebrating the achievements of Black communities.


History of Slavery and Black Presence Tour

Québec City, QC


Québec City has a history of slavery dating back to the beginning of New France in the 17th century, including the involvement of various groups such as governors, merchants, and clergy members in the slave trade. Québec History X Tours, led by Aly Ndiaye (better known as Webster)—a local Black Québec City historian, writer, and rapper—aims to provide a unique perspective on the history of slavery in the city. Aly Ndiaye and his tours have been featured on CBC Canada and come widely recommended. Enjoy a tour in either English or French as you visit sites related to the slave trade and gain a better understanding of the experiences of people of African descent in Québec City.


Africville Museum

Halifax, NS


Africville is known as a Black Heritage destination due to the forced relocation of the African community of Halifax in the 1960s to make way for industrial development. The community affected by this displacement is now represented and its history preserved by the Africville Museum. Offering exhibits on the history of the destruction of this neighbourhood and serving as a place for former residents and their descendants to learn about their history, the museum helps rebuild a sense of belonging, while showcasing African Nova Scotian heritage.


Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Centre

Niagara Falls, ON


Sitting in the 1863 Customs House that is attached to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Centre is located next to the former International Suspension Bridge where many freedom seekers crossed—including the legendary Harriet Tubman. The Heritage Centre's main goal is to educate visitors about the history of the Underground Railroad and the individuals who worked towards abolition in Niagara Falls. In the hopes of inspiring visitors to recognize the ongoing impact of slavery, the exhibits at the Centre aim to incite action towards creating a more equitable society.


The Ontario Black History Society

Toronto, ON


The Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) is a organization in Canada that celebrates, preserves, and promotes Black history and heritage in Ontario. Founded in 1978, it is the only Ontario Provincial Heritage Organization of the Ministry of Culture focused on doing so. It played a role in establishing February as Black History Month in Canada, which the House of Commons recognized in 1995. The OBHS and its many important co-founders have been instrumental in bringing Black history into the public domain. You can rediscover important Black historical figures with the many walking & bus tours and educational exhibits.


Black Strathcona

Vancouver, BC


The East Side neighbourhood of Strathcona was home to Vancouver's first and only black community from the early 1900s to the late 1960s. The Black community in Strathcona was a thriving and influential part of the city for six decades, producing world-class athletes, musicians, entertainers, business owners, community builders, and political activists. Now, Black Strathcona provides supplemental educational material and ten video stories to support social studies and English Language Arts curricula with the intention to honour the people and places that contributed to the community's vibrancy and uniqueness. You can tour the area using the interactive map on their website, and learn more about Black history in Vancouver.


Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center

New York City, NY


During the 1920s and 1930s, Black culture and creativity exploded in the New York City neighbourhood of Harlem. Now referred to as “the Harlem Renaissance”, this era was known for authors like Zora Neale Hurston, musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, intellectuals, dancers and more. With Harlem Heritage Tours, a Harlem local will take you through the influential sites of this time period at the Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center. Choose from a wide selection of tours such as the Harlem Heritage Park Tour, the Harlem Renaissance Multimedia Walking Tour, the Harlem Civil Rights Walking Tour, and more.


National Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington, D.C.


The Smithsonian Museum boasts its 19th institution—The African American History and Culture Museum, which is solely focused on preserving and showcasing the history, life, and culture of African Americans. You’ll find over 85,000 square feet of exhibition space where you can explore history galleries on slavery, segregation and civil rights; culture galleries on music, culture and visual arts; and community galleries on migration, resilience, sports and military history.


DuSable Museum of African American History

Chicago, IL


Founded in 1961, the DuSable Museum of African American History was one of the first locations in Chicago that was dedicated to the celebration of Black culture. In fact, it is the nation’s oldest independent African American Museum. In addition to serving as a focal point for Black social activism, it is home to 13,000 artifacts that speak to Black history, culture, art, highlighting influential local African American figures.


Museum of African Diaspora

San Francisco, CA


The Museum of African Diaspora focuses on the cultural achievements that have resulted from the migration of Africans throughout the world. In addition to a variety of slavery narratives that span the globe, you’ll find rotating art exhibits by various African artists and oral histories from multiple time periods. Participate in talks, workshops, take a tour with your students and more as you are challenged to expand your knowledge and inspired with a deeper appreciation of African art and culture.


Black Heritage Trail

Boston, MA


During the late 18th century and early 19th century, Boston was a hub for freed slaves. The city’s all-free Black community established schools and institutions that would lead the nation’s abolitionist efforts. Discover these 14 historic sites on the Black Heritage Trail with a tour of this influential neighbourhood, led by Boston’s Museum of African American History.

As we continue to learn about and celebrate Black history, it is important to remember and honour the places significant events took place as well as the changemakers who have worked to educate and advocate for a better future.

If you're planning a student tour, these are must-see destinations that offer opportunities to learn about Black history, connect with the past and better understand the experiences and contributions of Black communities. To get connected and add any of these incredible activities to your Brightspark itinerary, reach out to Stacey Costa via email at scosta@brightsparktravel.ca or by phone at +1 416-486-4097.