Explore African-American History Across Michigan
The contributions of African Americans to Michigan’s cultural heritage spread throughout the state.
Here are some unique ways to experience black history through exhibits and landmarks from Muskegon to Detroit, with stops along the way.
- Muskegon: Visit the James Jackson Museum of African American History to learn about the role African Americans played in shaping Muskegon County.
- Big Rapids: The mission of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University is to “use objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”
- Idlewild: During Jim Crow times, this rural northwestern Michigan community drew African Americans from across the country for rest and relaxation, which they were denied at other vacation destinations because of their skin color. Visit during the annual Jazz & Blues Festival and read more about the resort community’s history here.
- Grand Rapids: Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and GR Walks recently released a self-guided walking tour of black history in the city. The approximately two-mile tour features historical information about local African American leadership, culture and community. Download the app and walk yourself to the 11 points of interest that make up the tour. While you’re in town, make sure to also visit the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives.
- Lansing: Visit the Michigan History Museum to learn about Michigan’s role as an anti-slavery state in the Civil War, including the state’s part in the Underground Railroad.
- Detroit: There are many places to visit in Detroit, including the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum, and the Motown Museum. Visit Detroit has a comprehensive list of other spots to check out.
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Photo credit: Ken Lund