You'll meet legendary figures whose talent and courage embody the spirit of black America.
Begin your exploration at the state's official African-American museum, the Banneker-Douglass Museum, housed in Annapolis' century-old Mt. Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church. Named for two of Maryland's most famous African-Americans, scientist Benjamin Banneker and statesman Frederick Douglass, the museum features a plethora of artifacts and exhibits, as well as an elaborate rose stained-glass window. After your visit, be sure to take a walking tour of the city and stop at the Maynard-Burgess House, owned exclusively by two African-American families for almost 150 years.
At the head of the City Dock, you'll find a brass plaque memorializing the 1767 arrival of Kunta Kinte, brought from Africa aboard a slave ship. Kinte's name became a rallying symbol for African-Americans seeking to understand their pasts when he descendent, Alex Haley, published the landmark book Roots. Haley himself has been honored with a life-size statue to represent the value of pride in one's heritage.
Two other prominent Maryland African-Americans are celebrated at the State House; the Thurgood Marshall Memorial commemorates the achievements of Marshall as the nation's first African-American Supreme Court Justice, and Matthew Henson is honored with a plaque for reaching the North Pole with Admiral Peary.
African-Americans played a major role in Baltimore's growth, before and after emancipation. To learn more, first head to the Baltimore Civil War Museum in President Street Station - not only are the exhibits remarkable, but the former train station was once a documented stop along the Underground Railroad. Then, go to the Baltimore Museum of Art where both a permanent African art collection and traveling exhibitions from around the world are on display. There's also African and African-American artwork at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University, one of Maryland's historically black colleges. For art of a different variety, visit the Great Blacks in Wax Museum to see a moving tableaux recreating key moments from African-American history. Here, there's a model of Henry Brown, the Virginia slave who mailed himself to freedom via a crate, and of Rosa Parks as she is escorted from the bus after refusing to give up her seat. In Baltimore, you'll also find the newly opened Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (the largest of its kind on the East Coast), and the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, where the city's legendary men and women of jazz (Eubie Blake, Billie Holliday, and Cab Calloway, to name a few) are honored with permanent displays.
West of Baltimore, in Columbia, the African Art Museum of Maryland has collected more than 200 works of art covering a variety of cultures and styles, while the nearby Howard County Center of African-American Culture concentrates on local and regional history and artifacts. Finally, at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Oella, just outside Ellicott City, you can learn how the free-born mathematician for which it is named came to devise the leading almanac of his day, built America's first striking clock, and helped calculate the boundaries of Washington, D.C.
Discover much more about Maryland's African American Heritage