Explore African American History and Culture

Jonkonnu performers from Tryon Palace at Historic Stagville in Durham

North Carolina is nationally renowned for its rich African American history.

To help you explore that heritage we've gathered some of the best places to experience African American music, offer engaging on-site programming that highlight stories from black history and interpret four historic sites that emphasize the African American experience.

With our programming you can get a broad picture of North Carolina's African American history or dive deep into a specific subject. There's so much to explore!

Coming Up Across North Carolina

Featured Events Celebrating Black History Month in 2017

Eastern N.C.

Eastern N.C.

Eastern N.C.

Through June. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Distant Echoes. This traveling photographic exhibit chronicles the lives and working conditions of black farmers in the U.S. through images of award-winning photographer John Francis Ficara. The plight of the farmers has gone largely unnoticed, but some continue to work the land in spite of decades of prejudice and discrimination. Black farmers are losing land at approximately 1,000 acres a day. The exhibit was organized by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Free.

Year Round. Somerset Place, Creswell.  A representative state historic site that offers a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this unusual plantation included more than 100,000 densely wooded, mainly swampy acres. During its 80 years as an active plantation (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the Upper South's largest plantations. Free



Year Round. Historic Stagville, Durham. The remains of North Carolina's largest pre-Civil War plantation and one of the South's largest. It once belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family, whose combined holdings totaled approximately 900 slaves and almost 30,000 acres by 1860. Today, Stagville consists of 71 acres, on three tracts and includes the late 18th-century Bennehan House, four rare slave houses, a pre-Revolutionary War farmer's house, a huge timber framed barn built by skilled enslaved craftsmen and the Bennehan family cemetery. Free.

Black History Month Spotlight: Harriet Jacobs


After nearly seven years hiding in a tiny garret above her grandmother’s home, Harriet Ann Jacobs took a step other slaves dared to dream in 1842; she secretly boarded a boat in Edenton, N.C., bound for Philadelphia, New York and, eventually, freedom. The young slave woman’s flight, and the events leading up to it, are documented in heart-wrenching detail in her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, self-published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent.

A significant personal history by an African American woman, Harriet Jacobs’ story is as remarkable as the writer who tells it. During a time when it was unusual for slaves to read and write, self-publishing a first-hand account of slavery’s atrocities was extraordinary. That it was written by a woman, unprecedented.


Experience the Magic of African American Music

A guide to music sites, artists and traditions of eastern North Carolina, our African American Music Trails project is a celebration of jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, gospel, blues, church music, rap, marching bands and the musicians and places in eastern North Carolina where music has been a part of family, church and community life for generations.

Find Authentic Morth Carolina in the African American Music of the East

Telling the African American Story Through Historic Places

State Parks with African American Roots

Before being integrated in the 1960s, North Carolina had three segregated state parks for African Americans. Visitors to those parks today can learn more about this period in our history.