Although Africans have been in America since before the Mayflower there are few African American historic places. The first African to arrive in America was Juan Garrido. He was born in West Africa in 1480 and arrived in Florida with Ponce de Leon in 1513. Preserving African American sites takes more than money it takes love of history and knowledge of the world of preservation.
Many African American historic places have deteriorated with time and lack of upkeep. When remaining sites are visited you are making a contribution to keep American history alive and respect to those who came before. Here are 5 glimpses of American history through African American historic places.
- Lorraine Motel – The Lorraine Motel is part of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. It was the place where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The rooming house across the street is also a part of the museum. You can stand in the window where the suspected shooter allegedly stood to murder Dr. King.
- Tuskegee Institute – The Oaks was the home of Booker Taliaferro Washington in Tuskegee, Alabama. Born a slave in 1856 he found Tuskegee Institute. His home sits on the campus of Tuskegee Institute the University he built in 1881. You can visit his home and see where he entertained President Theodore Roosevelt, President Taft, Andrew Carnegie and other dignitaries.
- Camp William Penn – Located in Pennsylvania directly outside of Philadelphia was the first recruiting and training center for African American Army Soldiers operated by the United States Government. From 1863 to 1865 more than 11,000 free Blacks and escaped slaves were trained to fight in the American Civil War.
- Jackie Robinson House – The John Roosevelt Robinson House is located at 5224 Tilden Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. It is the home of the first African American Major League baseball player in modern times. He was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers and played his first game with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
- Austin F. William Carriagehouse and House – The Austin F. William house is located in Farmington, Connecticut. It served as the living quarters during the United States v. The Amistad Supreme Court case in1841to determine the plight of the Mende people who were abducted from Sierra Leone by slavers.
1. Lorraine Motel
The Lorraine Motel was the place of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis Tennessee. It was an upscale motel that catered to African American guests during the segregated south. Other notable guests who resided there were Lionel Hampton, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Ethel Waters, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and the Staple Singers.
2. Tuskegee Institute
Tuskegee Institute is a private Historical Black University built in 1881 by Booker T. Washington in Tuskegee, Alabama. Washington was an educator, author, orator and an advisor to presidents. Tuskegee Institute was the home of the Tuskegee Airmen, African American pilots and heroes of World War II and George Washington Carver who was a Professor, Scientist and Researcher. Notable alumni are Lionel Ritchie, Alice Coachman, Congressman Alexander Green, Four Star General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. and Tom Joyner, Ralph Ellison and Lonnie Johnson.
3. Camp William Penn
Camp William Penn was a Union Army training camp for African American soldiers during the Civil War. It officially opened for training on July 1 1863. The land located in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania leased for Camp William Penn was owned by Union League member Edward M. Davis the son-in-law of abolitionist Lucretia Mott and Union League member Louis Wagner served as the commander. Notables who visited and spoke to the African American troops were President Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Robert Purvis and William Still. After the Civil War LaMott became one of the first interracial neighborhoods in the United States.
4. Jackie Robinson House
The Jackie Robinson House located in Brooklyn, New York is a National Landmark. It was the home of the first African American to play major league baseball. He lived in the house with his wife when he was named Rookie of the Year in 1947 and in 1949 when he was Most Valuable Player.
5. Austin F. William Carriagehouse and House
The Austin F. William Carriagehouse and House located in Farmington, Connecticut served as quarters for the Mende people abducted from Sierra Leone. Senge Pieh led the revolt against the slavers aboard the slave ship La Amistad. In 1841 on appeal the Supreme Court decision ruled that the Mende people had been transported illegally. Thirty-five Mende survivors were returned to Africa in 1842. Senge Pieh was later known as Joseph Cinque.