11 Self-Guided and Virtual Black History Tours

Washington DC Commemorates Martin Luther King Day
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Black history is American history. And across the United States, cities are filled with rich African American history and culture. From landmark homes to nationally recognized museums, visitors and residents alike can learn how Black Americans have impacted our society. Many places offer local walking tours that deep dive into the city’s Black history and culture.

Now, many attractions and tours are on pause because of the pandemic. However, you can still celebrate Black history through a self-guided or virtual walking tour. And although Black History Month is a time to celebrate, immerse yourself in Black history year-round.

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The Black Heritage Trail

Boston Exteriors And Landmarks
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Offering audio-guided and self-guided tours, the Black Heritage Trail is an interactive trail packed with information about African American history in Boston. The tour highlights Boston’s free Black community during the 18th and 19th centuries, including homes, places of worship, schools, and stops along the Underground Railroad. Can’t make it to Boston? In conjunction with Boston’s Museum of African American History, The Black Heritage Trail also offers virtual tours so that you can learn about Boston’s Black history from the comfort of your own home.

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African American Heritage Trail

African American Civil War Memorial

dctourism / CC BY-NC 2.0 / flickr

Cultural Tourism DC, in cooperation with the DC Office of Planning, created a self-guided tour of nearly 100 African American history and cultural sites in our nation’s capital. Learn a brief history of African Americans in Washington, D.C., and download the self-guided tour guide, divided into 15 unique D.C. neighborhoods, to get started!

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Fort Monroe, Virginia

Antique Rapid-Fire Gun at Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA
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Located in the southern tip of the Virginia peninsula, Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort built in the United States. Completed in 1834, President Obama designated Fort Monroe as a national monument in 2011. On the eight-stop self-guided walking tour, learn about the first Africans to land at Old Point Comfort and the “Contraband Hospital” site where Harriet Tubman was a nurse and cook.

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College Park, Maryland

H.J. Patterson Hall at University of Maryland
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The University of Maryland at College Park’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion created a guided African American History Virtual Walking Tour. Go for a “stroll” on this beautiful campus while exploring how Black history has shaped the university. A companion to the in-person, self-guided tour is the perfect way to learn how African Americans have not only shaped UMD but how their contributions have impacted colleges and universities all over the world.

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Atlanta, Georgia

If you want to experience Atlanta Black history icons, look to Roundabout Atlanta. This family-owned and operated tour guide is all about Southern hospitality. Operating for a decade, this travel company offers private, Black history tours in Atlanta. Experience sites like the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or the expansive Tyler Perry Studios.

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Bowling Green, Kentucky

Downtown Bowling Green

LuAnn Snawder Photography / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

Ernest Hogan, considered to be the founder of Ragtime music, was born and raised in the ShakeRag District of Bowling Green, which is placed on the National Register of Historic Places recognized for its significance to African American history. Travelers can immerse themselves in the local history of ShakeRag through a self-guided walking tour of the historic district, passing through historic homes and buildings, as well as landmark spots like Alice’s Beauty Shop, which employed young college graduates starting in the 1940s.

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Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee downtown skyline at twilight
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Nashville isn’t only about hot chicken and country music. And United Street Tour’s owner, Chakita Patterson, is committed to showcasing the deep Black history, food, and culture that often gets overlooked. While this co company’s traditional walking tours are on pause, United Street Tours is now offering “The Black Experience,” which is completely virtual so that you can learn about Nashville's treasures from the comfort of your living room.

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Edgard, Louisiana

Church At The Whitney Plantation
Tess Linden / 500px / Getty Images

Located one hour from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Whitney Plantation is the only museum in Louisiana that focuses solely on the lives of people who were enslaved. It offers a self-guided audio tour about slavery on the grounds of a historical sugar, rice, and indigo plantation. The tour includes a memorial that honors over 100,000 enslaved people of Louisiana. 

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Detroit, Michigan

Detroit - Eastern Market
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The Detroit Experience factory has a donation-based virtual tour on the city’s Black history and communities. This tour focuses on systemic racism (segregation and redlining) and its effects on Detroit throughout the last century.

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Oxford, Ohio

Oxford, Ohio

Tmariemdith, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

A virtual self-guided tour to learn about Oxford, Ohio’s Black history is free and available through Enjoy Oxford’s official website. Along the tour, visitors explore sites like the B. First Baptist Church and the E. Sycamore Carwash.

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Oakland, California

Skyline of Oakland at sunrise
Thomas Winz / Getty Images

Although in-person tours through Oakland Urban Paths are currently on pause, they offer a digital Black History tour. The tour can be viewed from a computer or phone and details the rich African American history of Oakland, California. Amongst many important facts, learn about the Black Panther Party, Elizabeth Flood, and the Paul Robeson Administration Building.

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