You'll meet legendary figures whose talent and courage embody the spirit of black America.
More than a century old, Annapolis' Mt. Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church, with its elaborate rose stained-glass window is now the home of the Banneker-Douglass Museum, named for two of Maryland's most famous African-Americans (scientist Benjamin Banneker and statesman Frederick Douglass). Begin your exploration here, at the state's official African-American museum, replete with exhibits and artifacts tracing the history of African-American culture in Maryland. Then take a walking tour of the city, stopping at historic homes like the Maynard-Burgess House, owned exclusively by two African-American families for almost 150 years.
At the head of the City Dock is a brass plaque which memorializes the 1767 arrival of Kunta Kinte, brought from Africa aboard a slave ship. Kinte's name became a rallying symbol for African-Americans seeking to understand their pasts when his descendant, Alex Haley, published the landmark book Roots. Haley has now been honored with a life-size statue symbolizing the value of pride in one's heritage.
Two other prominent Maryland African Americans - Thurgood Marshall and Matthew Henson - are celebrated at the Maryland State House. The Thurgood Marshall Memorial outside the State House commemorates the achievements of the nation's first African-American Supreme Court justice. Matthew Henson, who reached the North Pole with Admiral Peary, is honored with a plaque inside the State House detailing his achievements.
African Americans played a major role in Baltimore's growth, both before and after emancipation. Head for the Baltimore Civil War Museum, housed in part of a former train station that was a documented stop along the Underground Railroad. The Baltimore Museum of Art exhibits both its own extensive African art collection - including many breathtaking masks - and prominent traveling exhibitions from around the world. The Great Blacks in Wax Museum shows moving tableaux re-creating key moments from African-American history. See Henry Brown, the Virginia slave who mailed himself in a crate to freedom, and watch Rosa Parks being escorted from the bus after refusing to give up her seat.
Baltimore is now home to the largest African American museum on the East Coast: The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the newly opened Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. One of Baltimore's newest treasures is the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, where Baltimore's legendary men and women of jazz - like Blake, Billie Holliday and Cab Calloway - are honored with permanent displays. Then head to Northeast Baltimore to see the African and African-American artwork on display at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University.
Head west from Baltimore to Howard County and Columbia, where the African Art Museum of Maryland has a collection of more than 200 works of art covering a variety of cultures and styles. The nearby Howard County Center of African-American Culture concentrates on local and regional history and artifacts.
In Oella, just outside Ellicott City, lies the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, built on the site of Banneker's birth (and the place where he constructed - entirely from wood - the first striking clock built in America). Learn how this free-born mathematician came to devise the leading almanac of his day and helped calculate the boundaries of Washington, D.C. A short drive away, in Prince George's County, is a tempting spot to grab dinner: BET Soundstage, the flagship of Black Entertainment Television's chain of theme restaurants.
Discover much more about Maryland's African American Heritage