Alabama locations to experience black history

The W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library is in Florence. The log cabin houses memorabilia from the “Father of the Blues.”

by Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Fleming

Black History Month is a time for people to remember the accomplishments of African-Americans. One of the best ways to do this is by seeing these accomplishments in person.

While some of them might be unavailable for most college students in Alabama, there are still places students can visit. Here are some suggestions for places throughout the state to learn more about black history.

Florence

To kick off the search for a location to appreciate black history, the Shoals can be a great starting place. One of the biggest historical landmarks in the area is the W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library.

The log cabin that houses memorabilia from the “Father of the Blues” is in Florence and contains instruments, original sheet music, his personal piano and more, according to the city of Florence’s website.

Adult admission fits the college budget at $2.

Birmingham

When people think of black history in Alabama, the first city to probably come to mind is Birmingham. During the Civil Rights Movement, it was the location for many historical moments, such Martin Luther King Jr. authoring “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

A major location to visit to learn more about black history is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Regular exhibits include the Birmingham Police Department’s tank from the 1960s that they used to suppress protesters and the door and bars from King’s jail cell when he wrote his famous letter. There are also special exhibits, including the current Odessa Woolfork Gallery, which the institute named after one of the founders.

Not only is the history overflowing, but it’s also an inexpensive experience with $6 student tickets.

Mobile

African-American history also extends to the southern-most part of the state in Mobile.

The city is home to the Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail, which visitors can travel via a group bus, personal vehicle or on foot. It highlights areas in the city with major historical African-American contributions.

Sites on the trail include Hank Aaron’s Playground and Park, which honors the baseball great’s success, as well as the National African-American Archives, which was the only option for African-Americans needing library resources during the Jim Crow era, according to the trail’s website.

Tour prices vary depending on the type, but walking tours are $4 for students.

Montgomery

The list cannot be complete without an entry from the state capital.

The Freedom Rides Museum, which is within the city’s Greyhound station, honors 21 people under 21 years old who protested for equal rights within the bus system.

“They knew they might be met with violence, and they were,” according to the Montgomery tourism site. “They had written out wills and said goodbye to loved ones. Their goal was to help end racial segregation in public transportation, and they did.”

The museum includes artwork, quotes and photographs related to the event, and student tickets are $4.