The black experience

Sites across the state explore African-American history year-round

Visitors to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum can see the historic lunch counter and stools where four A&T College students sat in nonviolent protest in1960. Their act ignited the sit-in movement. (Photo courtesy of: International Civil Rights Center & Museum)

As our February calendar shows, sites in North Carolina are celebrating Black History Month with special activities, events and programs. In addition, a number of museums, centers and historic sites explore, highlight or feature African-American history throughout the year. Here is a sampling of those places, east to west.

Somerset Place State Historic Site


The 100,000-acre Somerset Place (1785–1865) was home to more than 300 enslaved men, women and children of African descent. It offers a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation.

(252) 797-4560

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site


This national historic site, which preserves the cultural heritage of the Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans who have lived on Roanoke Island, includes an exhibit on the Freedmen's Colony. Many residents had been slaves before forming a colony here between 1862 and 1867. Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony was an experiment of national importance.

252) 473-5772

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station


This historic site features exhibits about the lifesaving crews on the Outer Banks, including the all-African American crew at Pea Island Lifesaving Station.

(252) 987-1552 

History House


This project of the Concerned Citizens of Tillery commemorates the contributions African Americans have made to Halifax County and northeast North Carolina. The History House contains exhibits on the Resettlement Farm of the 1930s and 1940s and coordinates community projects.

(252) 826-3017 

North Carolina Museum of History


The role of African Americans figures in several exhibits, and the museum also offers the online exhibit "A Change Is Gonna Come." Accessed at, it highlights courageous experiences of blacks, Indians and whites during the civil rights period.

(919) 807-7900

Raleigh City Museum


The museum features the civil rights-related exhibit: "Let Us March On: Raleigh's Journey Toward Civil Rights."

(919) 832-3775

African American Cultural Complex


In 1984, Dr. E.B. Palmer and his wife, Juanita, turned their own three-acre backyard into this unique, award-winning complex. It features African-American artifacts and inventions, exhibits on outstanding personalities, an African American Hall of Fame, and a nature trail with huts symbolic of an African village.

(919) 250-9336 

Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum


This state historic site, showcasing the life and work of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, a pioneer in African American education, features a visitor center, Brown's gravesite and buildings from Palmer Memorial Institute, the school that Brown founded.

(336) 449-4846 

International Civil Rights Center & Museum


With the historic F.W. Woolworth lunch counter as its centerpiece, the museum's exhibits tell the story of the Greensboro Four, as well as other key human and civil rights struggles and achievements, and covers discrimination in education, voting, employment, transportation, housing and recreation.

(336) 274-9199

Mendenhall Plantation


The former home of Quaker abolitionist Richard Mendenhall and stop on the Underground Railroad houses artifacts such as a false-bottomed wagon used in transporting slaves to freedom.

(336) 454-3819 

Levine Museum of the New South


Fulfilling its mission to interpret Southern history and culture from 1865 to the present, the museum's "Cotton Fields To Skyscrapers" offers interactive, simulated experiences such as sitting in Good Samaritans Hospital Chapel, one of the first African American hospitals in the South.

(704) 333-1887 

Harvey B. Gantt Center


Named for Charlotte's first African-American mayor, the center hosts both permanent and temporary African-American arts and cultural exhibits.

(704) 547-3700 

YMI Cultural Center


This facility, first known as the Young Men's Institute, was built as a community center for the families of black craftsmen who helped construct Biltmore Estate. Today the center offers permanent exhibits on local African-American history and rotating exhibits by African American artists.

(828) 252-4614

— Karen Olson House

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