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Travels in Black History

 Cheryl Wittenauer

By Cheryl Wittenauer

The Covid-19 pandemic has uprooted all of our comings and goings as we strive to reduce the physical contact that could transmit the disease among us.

That meant canceling all the trips I planned for 2020, and wondering what I still might accomplish in 2021. Given the sluggish rollout of the vaccine, herd immunity is still a far-away dream. That does not portend well for traveling this year.

Still, a girl can dream.

While some dreams take me to Europe or South America, there is a lot I want to see in the U.S., museums among them. Museums about Black history and justice, in general, are at the top of my list.

For all of our country’s resistance to reckon with our sin of slavery — unlike Germany’s dealing with its Nazi past — the U.S. nonetheless has many incredible museums dedicated to the Black experience; slavery; lynchings and other forms of racial terrorism; and the Civil Rights Movement.

Here is a list of museums I yearn to see (or revisit) and experience once the Covid pandemic has been laid to rest. Which Black history and social justice museums are on your bucket list?

  • The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, is the premier Black history museum in the country, in my opinion. Its exhibits, photographs, and narratives tell rich stories. After taking a Covid break, the museum reopens March 1.
  • The Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey in Cape May, New Jersey, is a tribute to American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery, escaped and rescued dozens of slaves via the network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. The museum will open after the pandemic.
  • The Woody Guthrie Center on the aptly named Reconciliation Way in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a tribute to the icon of the folk movement, a man unafraid to bare his political leanings through his music. The Center is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday for timed ticketed admission at 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m.
  • The nearby Bob Dylan Center, which is expected to open in 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

If that isn’t enough, here’s Fodor’s Travel list of 15 Unmissable Black History Museums Across America.”

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