This month we celebrate Black History Month. All across the nation, Americans from every background are pausing to reflect on the courage, bravery and sheer tenacity of Black activists throughout history. Ranging from the writings of W.E.B. DuBois to Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, American history has no shortage of Black culture woven in the pages of its history book.
Here in Maryland, some of history's strongest activists have deep roots in the state. Harriet Tubman, for instance, was born into slavery near Cambridge in Dorchester County. In 1849, she escaped to the north but returned to her home state multiple times over the next decade to help many families reach freedom. Frederick Douglass, born in Talbot County, escaped from slavery by catching a north-bound train out of Baltimore and went on to become one of the most well-known abolitionists and writers ever.
With these and other prominent historical figures, Maryland offers a variety of family-friendly exhibits and educational experiences in celebration of African American culture in February and all year round. Here are a few ideas to try this month.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
Located on the Eastern Shore, the newly opened Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center welcomed 100,000 guests over the past year. Tubman – who played an instrumental role in not only American history, but Maryland history – is recognized for her heroism in the Underground Railroad. Visitors are able to immerse themselves in the landscape Tubman and others would have experienced in order to escape to freedom. The center hosts educational programs on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am - 5pm.
The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum
Located ten minutes from the Inner Harbor, the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum houses more than 100 life-size figures of esteemed African Americans. The exhibits are displayed with sound effects for historical accuracy and lead visitors on a journey through time from the Middle Passage to the election of President Barack Obama. Wax figures of outstanding Marylanders such as Billie Holiday and Bea Gaddy stand as positive representations of extraordinary Blacks in American history.
Frederick Douglass Bicentennial
In honor of Frederick Douglass' 200th birthday, the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum in Baltimore will host a book fair on February 24 from 12 - 4pm. Authors, publishers and spoken word performers will have the chance to showcase their work during this event, which is free and open to the public.
In addition, Frederick Douglass' new wax figure – which will be housed at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum – is set to be unveiled at the maritime park on February 17 from 12 - 4pm. Read more.
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum – a celebration of Maryland's African American community – has an outstanding set of exhibits on display this month. Reginald F. Lewis, a Baltimore native, owned a venture capital firm and was recognized by Forbes one of the 400 richest men in America in 1992. During his lifetime, he donated more than $10 million to non-profits and gave a $5 million grant to fund the museum in his name.