In 1926 Dr. Carter G. Woodson set out to correct a great wrong when he advocated for setting aside one week per year to encourage learning more about Black history. His efforts to designate one week expanded into one month, establishing a time to focus on more 400 years of Black history – the achievements and contributions, the hardships and injustices.

Work remains to be done to highlight the often-untold stories of Black Americans more fully. One way to ensure this history is acknowledged and remembered is through additional protections for public lands via national monument designations. The Coalition has been an advocate for several proposed national monuments that help tell the story of Black Americans, including:

Black Wall Street – With local and Congressional support, efforts are underway to create a national monument at the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. In May 1921, the thriving and prosperous Black community in the Greenwood District of Tulsa was attacked by a white mob, killing hundreds, and destroying businesses and homes.

1908 Springfield Race Riots – The city of Springfield, Illinois, has pledged to donate city property to the U.S. government to establish a national monument to honor those who lost their lives during one of our nation’s “worst examples of mass racial violence.”. From this tragedy rose the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which continues to fight against racism and discrimination.

Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park – Julius Rosenwald, clothier and part owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., joined with Booker T. Washington to establish more than 5,000 schools for African-American children in the segregated south, providing access to the public education they were entitled. Community engagement remains critical as the National Park Service assesses the feasibility of establishing this National Historical Park.

Black history is American history, and we must do all we can to preserve and interpret sites across the country that help to tell the complete story of our nation. By protecting these cultural sites, we honor these citizens and enhance our understanding of American history. We hope you will have an opportunity to visit a site connected to Black history and heritage this month, and we hope that the stories of Black History Month encourage you to learn and share Black history throughout the year.