Exploring Black History Month in St. Louis

Wednesday January 18, 2017

In the month of February, we invite you to celebrate Black History Month through exploring different points of interest throughout St. Louis which honor the history and achievements of African Americans.

National Blues Museum, just under a year old, tells the story of the blues which many consider to be the foundation of American music. From the Deep South, African Americans brought the music north during the Great Migration and the blues spread becoming popular all over the world. Learn about the musicians, make music and experience the technological exhibits inside the museum. Since it’s opening, the museum has garnered national acclaim from visitors and media outlets across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning, The New York Times and New York Daily News. If you’ve yet to venture inside of the museum, take a trip downtown, it’s located on Washington Avenue.

Similarly, the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark. You may step into the King of Ragtime’s home where he composed what would become legendary music. The Griot Museum of Black History provides another opportunity for you and your family to learn about African American history. The museum features wax figures, artifacts and memorabilia with an emphasis on regional stories in relation to American history.  “Griot” (pronounced “GREE-OH”) is a community historian who maintains cultural traditions through poetry, storytelling and music in some countries in West Africa.

Visit the Old Courthouse, and see the changes transforming the Gateway Arch grounds right before your eyes. Soon the Arch will be better connected to downtown. The Old Courthouse was the site of the notable Dred Scott v. Sanford court case. In 1846, Scott born a slave, unsuccessfully sued for his freedom. Afterwards, this case ultimately led to the Civil War and would forever change America’s destiny. Inside the Old Courthouse you’ll find more history about this significant court case.

The Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing Celebration takes place every year in the spring. It is held at Missouri’s first nationally recognized Underground Railroad site located along the north St. Louis riverfront (4500 E. Prairie Ave.).

Mary Meachum, a free woman of color and the widow of John Berry Meachum, spearheaded efforts in education. Mary took a stand against slavery and used her home as a depot for the Underground Railroad. In 1855, she was arrested for aiding in the attempted escape of nine slaves across the Mississippi River to freedom in Illinois. Hence the site is now named in her honor.

The legendary dancer, choreographer, author and social activist Katherine Dunham also has ties to the St. Louis area. She has been called the “matriarch or queen mother of black dance.” You can learn more about Dunham at The Katherine Dunham Museum, located at 1005 Pennsylvania Avenue, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Inside the museum there are costumes, photographs, art collections, and other artifacts displayed from her successful career around the world. Museum hours are currently on an appointment basis.

Feb 14th is Valentine’s Day, but you can take your sweetheart out for date night any time of year at one of the many attractions and restaurants throughout the St. Louis area.  Taking in a performance at The Black Rep and eating soul food at Sweetie Pie’s is always a good idea. The upcoming season at The Black Rep is an amazing one. “Lines in the Dust” is being performed now until Jan. 29, followed by Seven Guitars (Mar. 29-Apr. 23), and “Crossin’ Over” (May 24-June 18) will conclude the season.

See our events calendar for more ideas and information about the St. Louis tourism scene.

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