Explore African American History and Culture

Preserving North Carolina African American History & Culture

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!

Featured Events Celebrating Black History Month in 2020

Eastern N.C.

Eastern N.C.

Eastern N.C.

February. Historic Edenton. Walking Tours. The tours will be on an alternating schedule (Feb. 1 - Harriet Jacobs/Feb. 9 - From Civil War to Civil Rights) offered at 3 p.m. leaving from the Visitor Center. Space is limited; reservations required. Cost is $2.50. Call (252) 482-2637.

Feb. 1. Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville. Dancing Stories. April Turner presents valuable life lessons through stories and also teaches dances that symbolize West African traditions and culture. Her presentations has become a local tradition and favorite. 2 p.m. Free.

Feb. 5. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City.  History for Lunch: Harlem Renaissance Centennial. Marvin T. Jones, Jones and Associates Washington, D.C., will discuss the connection of local communities Winton, Cofield and Ahoskie to the Harlem Renaissance and other comments. 12:15-1 p.m.

Feb 7. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Elementary School Day.  Black History Month. Atumpan - The Talking Drums will perform, and students will explore history, literature, musical, performing and visual arts through hands-on activities including dancing and poetry writing. Elizabeth City State University's planetarium staff will present a mobile program 9 a.m. - 1p.m.

Feb. 11. N.C. Maritime Museum, Beaufort. Screening of the documentary, "Rescue Men: The Pea Island Lifesavers". The documentary chronicles the true story of Station 17, the only African American crew serving in the U.S. Lifesaving Service, the predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard. 2 p.m. Free.

Feb. 15. N.C. Aquarium, Roanoke Island. Freedmen, Surfmen, Heroes. The presentation of the story of the first all-black lifesaving station and the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard. Noon and 2 p.m. Included with admission.

Feb. 18. N.C. Maritime Museum, Southport. Dr. Virginia Littlefield presents, "I Am Only One, but I Am One: Southern African American Schoolteachers and the Struggle of Freedom". Highlights advancements on the social, political, economic and educational battlefields. Limited space; reservation required. Call (910) 477-5151. 7 p.m. Free.

Feb. 22. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Middle and High School Day Harlem Renaissance Centennial Celebration. An immersion experience into art, literature, music and a tour of the "Temperance and Bootlegging: A Nation Under Prohibition" exhibit. An examination of how Prohibition helped the development of jazz and broke racial barriers. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Grades 6-12. 

Feb. 22. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Harlem Renaissance Centennial Celebration. Learn about impacts of the Harlem Renaissance on the 21st century and explore other events. Tour "Temperance and Bootlegging: A Nation Under Prohibition," and settings, like period clothing and photos at a "speakeasy piano bar" circa the 1920s. Enjoy refreshments and children's activities. 10 a.m-2 p.m. Free.

Feb. 22. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Harlem Renaissance Centennial: Evening of Entertainment. A new video, "Underground Railroad in Northeast North Carolina" premieres. Afterward enjoy an evening of 1920s style music, dance, art and poetry and a reception. 6:30 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. video. Free.

Feb. 22. Somerset Place State Historic Site, Creswell. Slavery to Freedom in Washington County. Friday tours at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday panel discussion at 1 p.m. Program cost $5. 




Jan. 25. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. African American Cultural Celebration. Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, the19th annual day-long African American Cultural Celebration features scores of musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, reenactors and more. 10:30 a.m. Free.

Feb. 1, 8, 15. Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, Sedalia. Palmer Personalities. During special tours, visitors will meet actor portraying notable personalities from the school's history, including Dr. Brown's family. 10 a.m, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. $3.

Feb. 5. N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh. The Story of Sankofa Farms. Kamal Bell, the owner of the farm, discusses how he turn 12 acres of land in Cedar Grove, North Carolina into a place where teen can learn how to grown their own food while developing import life skills. Noon. Free. 

Feb. 8, 22. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. African American History Highlights Tour. Docent-led tours through exhibits highlight the contributions of African Americans to North Carolina.1:30 p.m. Free.

Feb. 9. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. Music of the Carolina: Jalessa Cade. A program of African American gospel music by Dunn (Harnett County) native and independent recording artist Jalessa Cade. She has a music ministry and has been a contestant in multiple artist showcases and soon will release her debut single "You Are." 3 p.m. Free

Feb. 12. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. History á la Carte. History Meets Virtual Reality . Derek Ham, N.C. State University, will discuss his interest in game-based learning -- in particular his creation and design of Learning Lab 360's "I Am a Man" interactive virtual reality experience that presents the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and the last days of Rev. Martin Luther King. Bring lunch, beverages provided. Noon - 1 p.m. Free.

Feb. 12. N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh. A Tale of Two Ships. Angela Thorpe, director of the N.C. African American Historical Commission, discusses Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, and its earlier life as the slave ship La Concorde. Noon. Free.

Feb. 19. N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh. Warren County North Carolina - Birth of the Environmental Justice Movement. Dollie Burwell, Bill Kearney and Wayne Moseley discuss their role as community members in the Warren County PCB Landfill protests, which is recognized as the beginning of the environmental justice movement in the United States. Noon. Free.

Feb. 20. Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, Sedalia. Race, Gender and Jim Crow Lecture Series. Dr. Virginia Summey will explore the life of Elreta Alexander, the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School and to practice law in North Carolina. Learn how she navigated race and gender and turned them into a career as a pioneering attorney and judge. 6:30 p.m. Free. 

Feb. 26. N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh. Masters of Our Own Destiny - Black Farmers. Melody Hunter-Pillion, PhD student, uses the oral histories of North Carolina's African American farmers and fishermen to tell the story of how these families have shaped North Carolina and how they are dealing with heritage depletion, land loss and climate change. Noon. Free. 

February 22, 29. N.C. State Capitol, Raleigh. Pure Life Theater at the historic Royal Bakery Building. Black History Month Read-in. The N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. State Capitol in partnership with the State Library of N.C. will present the new book "My NC from A to Z." Celebrate with readings by authors, musicians, poets, scholars, orators, and more! 1 - 4 p.m. Free. 


Western N.C.

Western N.C.

Feb. 1, 15, 29. Reed Gold Mine, Midland. Black Gold, Slavery and Reed Gold Mine. Saturday tours focused on the site and the mine that tell stories of African American miners at Reed Gold Mine in the region. 1 p.m.  $2.14 for ages eight and older.  

Feb. 22. President James K. Polk, Pineville. Local Learning Series: Charlotte's West End, Presented by John C. Smith University. Archivist Branon Lunsford will discuss Charlotte's Historic West End, a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project, which aims to tell the story of a vibrant African American community with photographs, documents and oral histories. 10:30 a.m - noon. Free. 

Feb. 29. N.C. Horne Creek Farm, Pinnacle. How Deep Did Their Roots Run. At the turn-of-the 20th century, the land which now makes up Horne Creek Farm was owned by two families: the Hausers and the Sawyers. In celebration of Black History Month, Sawyers' family descendant Jerry Ward will do a presentation on his family's roots and a tour of the Hauser and Sawyers cemeteries. 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Free. 

Feb. 29. Town Creek Indian Mound, Mt. Gilead. Town Creek Under the Stars: Follow the Drinking Gourd. Learn how the Little Dipper has been viewed by various cultures over time and its role in the Underground Railroad. 6 - 9 p.m. Preregistration required. 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 North Carolina in the African American Music of the East

Telling the African American Story Through Historic Places

North Carolina African American Heritage Sites