The influence of black culture is undeniable in the District of Columbia, where African-Americans make up nearly 50% of the population. From Black Broadway (U Street) to the Smithsonian’s various rich history collections to the spot where MLK delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, Washington, D.C. is filled with unmissable black-history pilgrimage sites.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
Opened in 2011 in West Potomac Park, this four-acre site is centered around Lei Yixin’s 28.5-foot-tall granite sculpture, Stone of Hope. Find inspiration in the MLK quotes engraved on the statue and the flanking walls.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
This new Smithsonian museum is wildly popular, attracting 2 million visitors in 2019. You’ll want to book your timed-entry tickets in advance to ensure you’ll get the chance to see Harriet Tubman’s shawl, Oprah’s studio couch, and James Brown's stage costumes.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
The famed abolitionist lived in this estate, called Cedar Hill, from 1878 until his death in 1895. Located in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast D.C., the house is still filled with his personal effects, including portraits of people he admired.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Opened in 1958 on “Black Broadway” (U Street), this family-run chili restaurant has attracted generations of D.C. residents, including President Barack Obama. The Obamas are also featured on local artist Aniekan Udofia’s wall-sized mural outside, which depicts black icons, such as Prince, Muhammad Ali and Taraji P. Henson.
Stand on the exact spot where MLK delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. Eighteen steps from the top landing, you’ll find an engraving to mark the location.
National Museum of American History
This ultra-popular history museum houses the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, where four young African-American men started their nonviolent sit-ins in 1960. Their protests were ultimately successful, and the North Carolina store desegregated a few months later.