State parks are steeped in history, and as such, there are many that come to mind as important during Black History Month. While utilizing parks for the plethora of activities and outdoor fun available are great ways to get involved, it’s also important to recognize the work that went into their foundation and the history behind the grounds that you’re traversing over. Here are just a few that are worth a visit during this iconic month.
T.O. Fuller State Park, TennesseeKnown as a park full of great birding and hiking opportunities, T.O. Fuller State Park is certainly a site to behold. What makes it especially notable, however, is its ties to black history. It was the first state park open to African Americans east of the Mississippi River and was originally known as Shelby County Negro State Park in the 1930s. The name was later changed to honor Dr. Thomas O. Fuller who empowered and educated African Americans during his lifetime.
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, CaliforniaColonel Allensworth SHP preserves the town of Allensworth, which is the only California town to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. It was a farming community founded with the intention of improving the economic and social status of African Americans in the early 1900s. One of the founders, Lt. Colonel Allen Allensworth, created the town with the hopes of it becoming known as the “Tuskegee of the West,” modeled after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. It was a place for blacks to live and start a life outside of the confines of segregated society.
Fort Mose Historic State Park, FloridaFound in St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose is possibly one of the most important pieces of black history in America. It was founded in 1738 and was the first legally sanctioned free community comprised of ex-slaves. The park includes an interactive museum that helps visitors dive into the history of this site, complete with staff reenacting history while dressed in traditional garb.
Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, New YorkNew York was a haven for many slaves seeking freedom, and it was accessed best through the Underground Railroad. With the help of abolitionists, the Underground Railroad was a series of safe houses and secret routes that slaves would use to escape to free states or Canada. New York was often sought out due to its proximity to water and Canada. It was also home to many free slaves who fought for equality since New York’s manumission of slaves in 1827. There are many sites across the state that delve further into this part of New York’s history.
Make sure you use our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help aid you in your adventuring this month. Our handy park history section can help inform you on the early days of your favorite sites.