(Petrovskoe, Russia) / Abram Petrovich[a] Gannibal, also Hannibal or Ganibal, or Abram Hannibal or Abram Petrov (Russian: Абра́м Петро́вич Ганниба́л; 1696 – 14 May 1781), was a Russian military engineer, general, and nobleman of African origin. Kidnapped as a child, Gannibal was taken to Russia and presented as a gift to Peter the Great, where he was freed, adopted and raised in the Emperor’s court household as his godson.
Gannibal eventually rose to become a prominent member of the imperial court in the reign of Peter’s daughter Elizabeth. He had 11 children, most of whom became members of the Russian nobility; he was a great-grandfather of the author and poet Alexander Pushkin.
(Aswan Governorate, Egypt) / The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel (Arabic: أبو سمبل), a village in Aswan Governorate, Upper Egypt, near the border with Sudan. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km (140 mi) southwest of Aswan (about 300 km (190 mi) by road). The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments”, which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan). The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, and commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic.
The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968 under the supervision of a Polish archaeologist, Kazimierz Michałowski, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary or they would have been submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the River Nile.
(Washington, D.C.) / The museum commemorates the lives and service of 209,145 soldiers and sailors who fought for the Union in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
The museum features statues, such as The Spirit of Freedom, and the Wall of Honor listing the names of the African-American soldiers who served in the war. It also features the permanent exhibition, A Glorious March to Liberty, recounting the stories of these brave men.
(Savannah, Georgia) / Savannah’s African-American Monument honors the contributions of its black citizens to its history, economy and culture, and acknowledges the city’s role in the institution of slavery.
It represents an important step forward in the inclusion of slavery and the black experience in Savannah’s public monuments, and a reminder of the many contributions made by the enslaved people by whom much of Savannah, literally and figuratively, was built.
The City of Savannah publicly acknowledged its involvement in the institution of slavery in 2007, five years after the African-American Monument was unveiled. That same year, a second memorial to the black contribution to Savannah, the Haitian Monument, was unveiled in Franklin Square.
(Alexandria, Virginia) / Landmarks include the Moses Hepburn Rowhouses (property of a prominent black citizen and businessman who had been born into slavery), Dr. Albert Johnson House (home of one of the city’s first licensed black physicians) and the George L. Seaton House (home of the entrepreneur and civic and political leader). The district also houses the Alfred Street Baptist Church (1855), Beulah Baptist Church (1863) and Davis Chapel (1834), all of which are historic churches for the black community.
(Windrush Square, Brixton, London) / The African and Caribbean War Memorial in Brixton, London, is the United Kingdom’s national memorial to African and Caribbean service personnel who fought in the First and Second World Wars. It originated with a project for a memorial to Caribbean Royal Air Force veterans of World War II who arrived in Britain in 1948 on the MV Empire Windrush; this was an extension of the commemorative plaque and sculpture scheme run by the Nubian Jak Community Trust to highlight the historic contributions of Black and minority ethnic people in Britain. The memorial was originally to have been placed at Tilbury Docks, as part of the commemoration for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. However, as the project began to evolve into a larger tribute that included both World Wars and commemorated servicemen and women from both Africa and the Caribbean, it was agreed by the memorial recipient – the Port of Tilbury – and the project organisers that a new, more accessible location needed to found. The memorial was ultimately permanently installed and unveiled on 22 June 2017 in Windrush Square, Brixton.
(New York, New York) / In 1991, construction began on a 34-story federal office tower positioned on 290 Broadway and overseen by the General Services Administration (GSA). Federally funded construction projects are mandated to comply with Section 106 in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. A“Stage 1A Cultural Resource Survey,” was completed in the area of Republican Alley in 1989 prior to construction. The compliance cultural research study assisted archaeologist to determine any potential archaeological and cultural impacts of construction on 290 Broadway.
Preliminary archaeological research excavation found intact human skeletal remains located 30 feet below the city’s street level on Broadway. During survey work, the largest and most important archeological discovery was made: Unearthing the “Negroes Buriel Ground”- a 6-acre burial ground containing upwards of 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York. The Burial Ground’s rediscovery altered the understanding and scholarship surrounding enslavement and its contribution to constructing New York City. The Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795. Currently, the Burial Ground is the nation’s earliest and largest African burial ground rediscovered in the United States.
Memorialization and research of the enslaved African skeletal remains were negotiated extensively between the General Services Administration, the African – American descendant community, historians, archaeologist, and anthropologist, including city and state political leaders. Civic engagement led to the ancestral remains’ reinterment within the original site of rediscovery. An external memorial, an interpretive center, and research library were constructed to commemorate the financial and physical contributions of enslaved Africans in colonial New York and honor their memory.
(Boston, Massachusetts) / The African Meeting House, also known variously as First African Baptist Church, First Independent Baptist Church and the Belknap Street Church, was built in 1806 and is now the oldest black church edifice still standing in the United States. It is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, adjacent to the African-American Abiel Smith School. It is a National Historic Landmark.
(Aurangabad District, Maharashtra State, India) / The Ajanta Caves are 30 (approximately) rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state of India. The caves include paintings and rock-cut sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that present emotions through gesture, pose and form.
According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced the Indian art that followed. The caves were built in two phases, the first phase starting around the 2nd century BCE, while the second phase was built around 400–650 CE, according to older accounts, or in a brief period of 460–480 CE according to later scholarship. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ajanta Caves constitute ancient monasteries and worship-halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 75-metre(246 ft) wall of rock. The caves also present paintings depicting the past lives and rebirths of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura’s Jatakamala, and rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities. Textual records suggest that these caves served as a monsoon retreat for monks, as well as a resting site for merchants and pilgrims in ancient India. While vivid colours and mural wall-painting were abundant in Indian history as evidenced by historical records, Caves 16, 17, 1 and 2 of Ajanta form the largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting.
Panoramic view of Ajanta Caves from the nearby hill
The Ajanta Caves are mentioned in the memoirs of several medieval-era Chinese Buddhist travellers to India and by a Mughal-era official of Akbar era in the early 17th century. They were covered by jungle until accidentally “discovered”and brought to Western attention in 1819 by a colonial British officer Captain John Smith on a tiger-hunting party. The caves are in the rocky northern wall of the U-shaped gorge of the river Waghur, in the Deccan plateau. Within the gorge are a number of waterfalls, audible from outside the caves when the river is high.
With the Ellora Caves, Ajanta is one of the major tourist attractions of Maharashtra. It is about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) from Fardapur, 59 kilometres (37 miles) from the city of Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India, 104 kilometres (65 miles) from the city of Aurangabad, and 350 kilometres (220 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Ajanta is 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu, Jain and Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta style is also found in the Ellora Caves and other sites such as the Elephanta Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Shivleni Caves and the cave temples of Karnataka.
(Painting) (The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois) / Although he was trained in the tradition of his Florentine master, Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530), Pontormo created more expressive and experimental works than the older artist. His portraits are noted for their penetrating insight into character. The subject of this painting, the emotionally unstable Alessandro de’ Medici, was probably an illegitimate son of Pope Clement VII by a Moorish slave. Alessandro was named the first Duke of Florence in 1532, after the defeat of the city’s republican government by an alliance of the pope and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Alessandro’s tyrannical reign ended in 1537, when he was assassinated by his cousin. This appears to be a preliminary painting of the duke that Pontormo consulted in the creation of a larger format state portrait now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
(Granada, Spain) / Spain’s best-known Moorish site is the vast hilltop fortress of the Alhambra, whose picturesque setting with a background of the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. The Alhambra, meaning ‘red castle’ in Arabic, was built as a small fortress in 889 AD and rebuilt as a grand palace in the mid-13th century by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, aka Mohammed I of Granada. With the conquest of Granada in 1492, it was converted into the Royal Court of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. Its architecture and interiors are one of the best examples of Islamic design in Western Europe – the walls are covered in script, carvings and mosaics.
(Zaragoza, Spain) / This Islamic palace was built in the 11th century in the Taifa of Zaragoza, one of the most northerly outposts of Al-Andalus, located in the north-eastern city of Zaragoza. It was later residence of the Christian kings of Aragon and today is used as the headquarters of the regional parliament of Aragon.
(Logan Square, SE corner 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) / All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors is a war memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that honors the state’s African American servicemen who fought in American conflicts from the American Revolutionary War to World War I. Commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1927, it was created by sculptor J. Otto Schweizer and dedicated July 7, 1934. In 1994 it was relocated from a remote site in West Fairmount Park to its present prominent site in Logan Square, along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
(Tulare County, California) / Established in 1908 by Col. Allen Allensworth and four other settlers, this was a community dedicated to improving the economic and social status of blacks. It is the only town in California to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The park features many restored buildings, including Allensworth’s house, historic schoolhouse, Baptist church and library.
(Gomti Nagar in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India) / Ambedkar Memorial Park, formally known as Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Sthal, is a public park and memorial in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. The memorial is dedicated to B. R. Ambedkar, the 20th century Indian polymath and the“father of the Indian Constitution.” The park also honors the lives and memories of Jyotirao Phule, Narayana Guru, Birsa Munda, Shahuji Maharaj, Kanshi Ram and all those who’ve devoted their life for humanity, equality and social justice. The memorial was constructed by Mayawati, the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, during her administration when she led the Bahujan Samaj Party.
(Thysdrus, El Djem, Mahdia Governorate, Tunisia) / Amphitheatre of El Jem is an oval amphitheatre in the modern-day city of El Djem, Tunisia, formerly Thysdrus in the Roman province of Africa. It is listed by UNESCO since 1979 as a World Heritage Site.
The amphitheatre was built around 238 AD in Thysdrus, located in the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis in present-day El Djem, Tunisia. It is one of the best preserved Roman stone ruins in the world, and is unique in Africa. As other amphitheatres in the Roman Empire, it was built for spectator events, and it is one of the biggest amphitheatres in the world. The estimated capacity is 35,000, and the sizes of the big and the small axes are respectively 148 metres (486ft) and 122 metres (400 ft). The amphitheatre is built of stone blocks, located on a flat ground, and is exceptionally well conserved. The amphitheatre of El Jem is the third amphitheatre built on the same place. The belief is that it was constructed by the local proconsul Gordian, who became the emperor as Gordian III. In the Middle Ages, it served as a fortress, and the population sought shelter here during the attacks of Vandals in 430 and Arabs in 647. In 1695, during the Revolutions of Tunis, Mohamed Bey El Mouradi made an opening in one of the walls to stop the resistance of the followers of his brother Ali Bey al-Muradi who gathered inside the amphitheater.
It is believed that the amphiteatre was used as a saltpetre manufacture in the end of the 18th and in the 19th century. Around 1850, the breach in the wall was enlarged by Ahmad I ibn Mustafa to approximately 30 metres (98 ft). In the second half of the 19th century, the structure was used for shops, dwellings, and grain storage.
(Siem Reap, Cambodia) / Angkor Wat (/ˌæŋkɔːr ˈwɒt/; Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត, “City/Capital of Temples”) is a temple complex in Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares(1,626,000 m2; 402 acres). Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura (Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat more than 5 kilometres (3mi) long and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
(Diamond Beach, Martinique) / Completed in 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies, the memorial consists of 20 statues, each 8 feet tall. Martinican sculptor Laurent Valére memorialized a ship tragedy in which 40 Africans died in the rocky waters off the coast of Le Diamant.
(Darwin, Australia) / Wedged between Kakadu and the ocean, Arnhem Land is a natural paradise less than an hour and a half from Darwin. The Yolngu people have called the area home for at least 60,000 years — Arnhem Land is the birthplace of the didgeridoo, FYI — and the region abounds with untouched coastline, vibrant wildlife, plus some of the best fishing conditions you’ll find anywhere on earth.
(New York, New York) / Designed by American architect Rodney Leon, who is of Haitian descent, the memorial, located at the United Nations in New York City, aims to underscore the tragic legacy of the slave trade, which, for over four centuries, abused and robbed 15 million Africans of their human rights and dignity, and to inspire the world in the battle against modern forms of slavery, such as forced labor and human trafficking.
(Bob The Builder Land, New Mexico) / Aztec Ruins National Monument was protected as a national monument in 1923 and named a World Heritage site in 1987 (as part of Chaco Culture National Historical Park) for its well-preserved examples of Pueblo architecture—the same features that still draw tourists from around the country. So why is it called “Aztec Ruins”? Early white explorers initially mistakenly identified the buildings on-site as traces of the Mexican Aztec culture, rather than the work of (even older) indigenous peoples, and it still bears the original, ill-gotten title. Despite this, the monument is an important place for Ancestral Puebloans, its ancient “greathouses” and associated “kivas”—ceremonial chambers—serving testament to the legacy of its old inhabitants.
Artifacts discovered in the ruins have included food remnants, clothing, tools and jewelry, offering a glimpse at the way Ancestral Puebloans used natural resources and traded with other peoples.
(Washington, D.C.) / One of the original forty boundary stones for Washington, D.C., this stone commemorates Benjamin Banneker. The free, self-educated African American was a farmer, astronomer, mathematician and almanac author. Banneker helped survey and plan Washington D.C.
(Memphis, Tennessee) / Beale Street runs from the Mississippi River to East Street and is one of the birthplaces of the blues. Landmarks include the Beale Street Tap Room, Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall and King’s Palace Cafe.
(Las Vegas, Nevada) / Berkley Square consists of 148 Ranch-style homes designed by African American architect Paul R. Williams. Provoked by poor housing conditions for African Americans in Las Vegas, the houses were built between 1954 and 1955 in the area historically known as Vegas’ Westside and comprised the first minority-built subdivision in Nevada.
(Dr. Ambedkar Nagar (Mhow), Indore District, Madhya Pradesh, India) / Bhim Janmabhoomi(literally, “Bhim’s birthplace”) is a memorial dedicated to Babasaheb Ambedkar, located at Mhow (now Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) in Madhya Pradesh, India. This was birthplace of Ambedkar, who was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow. where the local government built this grand memorial. This memorial was inaugurated on Ambedkar’s 100th birth anniversary – 14 April 1991 by the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Sunder Lal Patwa. The architecture of the memorial was composed by architect E.D. Nimgade. Later, On 14 April 2008, the 117th birthday of Ambedkar, inaugurated the memorial. Nearly 4.52 acres of land is connected to the memorial.
Every year, millions of Ambedkar’s followers, Buddhists and other tourists visit this place, especially on 14 April and celebrated Ambedkar’s birthday with pomp and gaiety. Mhow is 216 km away from Bhopal and 20 km away from Indore. In this place, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi had visited the 125th Ambedkar Jayanti in 2016 to pay tribute to Babasaheb. In 2018, the 127th Ambedkar Jayanti, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind tributed Babasaheb by visiting Mhow. This memorial is one of the Panchteerth, five holy sites related to the life of Babasaheb Ambedkar. The Madhya Pradesh government organizes ‘Samajik Samrasta Sammelan’ every year at Ambedkar Jayanti in Mhow. Apart from this, various social and cultural programs are organised here.
(Birmingham, Alabama) / Located in the city’s Civil Rights District along with the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and the Carver Theater, this is an interpretive museum which depicts the challenges of the American civil rights movement. The permanent exhibitions are a self-directed tour through Birmingham’s place in civil rights history.
(Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas, Esquipulas, Guatemala) / The Black Christ of Esquipulas is a wooden image of Christ now housed in the Cathedral Basilica of Esquipulas in Esquipulas, Guatemala, 222 kilometres (138 mi) from the city of Guatemala. It is one of the Cristos Negros of Central America and Mexico.
The image is known as “black” because Spanish missionaries wished to convert the natives who worshiped Ek-Kampulá. Ek-Kampulá was a deity worshiped by the natives of Equipulas, Guatemala, they believed he moved the clouds. Although such a name is relatively recent – in the 17th century it was also known as the “Miraculous Lord of Esquipulas” or the“Miraculous Crucifix venerated in the town called Esquipulas”. Esquipulas holds its patronal festival on 15 January, when the largest number of pilgrims come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and other Central American countries. The festival is also celebrated in the United States of America in some cities and states, such as Los Angeles (California), New Jersey, Kansas, and New York with a high Central American populations. El Santuario de Chimayó, in Chimayó, New Mexico, also honors the Black Christ of Esquipulas.
(Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City) / Cristo Negros or Black Christs of Central America and Mexico trace their origins to the veneration of an image of Christ on a cross located in the Guatemalan town of Esquipulas, near the Honduran and El Salvadoran border. This image was sculpted in 1595 in wood and over time it blackened and gained a reputation for being miraculous. Little is known of how veneration of the image was spread by clergy, although there are records of its introduction in various locations, especially in Central America, southern Mexico, central Mexico (especially in areas near Mexico City) and even as far north as New Mexico. However, a number of these images, such as the ones in Chalma, State of Mexico and Mérida, Yucatán have origin stories that do not connect the local image with that of Esquipulas. The Cristo Negro of Esquipulas remains an important symbol for Central America, with its sanctuary the most visited site in the region. There are hundreds of other such images with at least local importance with Christ of Chalma attracting millions of visitors, second only to that of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. The popularity of the image continues to spread, with Central American and Mexican migrants bringing the image to the United States and Canada, founding new sanctuaries.
(Częstochowa, Poland) / The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Polish: Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska, Latin: Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, in Claro Monte), also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, is a venerated icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland. Several Pontiffs have recognised the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter.
(Einsiedeln Abbey, Einsiedeln, Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland) / The term Black Madonna or Black Virgin refers to statues or paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Black Madonna can generally be found in Catholic and Orthodox countries.
The statues or paintings are mostly wooden but occasionally stone, often painted and up to 75 cm (30 in) tall. They fall into two main groups: free-standing upright figures or seated figures on a throne. The pictures are usually icons which are Byzantine in style, often made in 13th- or 14th-century Italy. There are about 400–500 Black Madonnas in Europe, depending on how they are classified. There are at least 180 Vierges Noires in France, and there are hundreds of non-medieval copies as well. Some are in museums, but most are in churches or shrines and are venerated by devotees. A few are associated with miracles and attract substantial numbers of pilgrims.
Black Madonnas come in different forms, and the speculations behind the reason for the dark skin of each individual piece vary greatly and are not without controversy. Though some Madonnas were originally black or brown when they were made, others have simply turned darker due to factors like aging or candle smoke. Another speculated cause for the dark-skinned depiction is due to pre-Christian deities being re-envisioned as the Madonna and child.
(Boley, Oklahoma) / Begun as a camp for black railroad workers, this is the site of an all-black community established in 1903. It is now recognized as a historic district and continues to function as a lively rural community.
(Boston, Massachusetts) / Located in the the Beacon Hill neighborhood, this site is home to the Black Heritage Trail and the 1806 African Meeting House, the oldest standing African-American church in the United States. The site aims to memorialize the African-American community of 19th-century Boston that led the city and the nation in the fight against racial injustice.
(Richmond, Virginia) / Richmond’s waterfront is steeped in African-American history. African-Americans worked on the river and canals, in the iron works and tobacco warehouses. The city dock was the arrival point for many slaves who were sold at nearby auction houses, and the Mayo Bridge played a role in Gabriel’s Rebellion, the famed antislavery uprising planned by a Henrico County slave.
Among the most famous slaves in Richmond’s history is Henry “Box” Brown, who worked in a tobacco warehouse at Cary and 14th streets when his family was sold to a North Carolina plantation. Overcome with grief, Brown contacted an agent of the Underground Railroad, who helped him mail himself to freedom.
(Cairo, Egypt) / Cairo (/ˈkaɪroʊ/ KY-roh; Arabic: القاهرة, romanized: al-Qāhirah, pronounced [ælˈqɑːhɪɾɑ] (Aboutthis soundlisten)) is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world. Its metropolitan area, with a population of over 20 million, is the largest in Africa, the Arab world, and the Middle East, and the 6th-largest in the world. Cairo is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, Cairo was founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region’s political and cultural life, and is titled “the city of a thousand minarets” for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a “Beta +” classification according to GaWC.
Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world’s second-oldest institution of higher learning, Al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of over 9 million spread over 3,085 square kilometers (1,191 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. An additional 9.5 million inhabitants live in close proximity to the city. Cairo, like many other megacities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic. The Cairo Metro is one of the only two metro systems in Africa (the other being in Algiers, Algeria), and ranks amongst the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 1 billion annual passenger rides. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East in 2005, and 43rd globally on Foreign Policy’s 2010 Global Cities Index.
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) / Rio de Janeiro construction workers were renovating the city’s port area in 2011 when they accidentally unveiled the old Valongo Wharf. Between 1811 and 1831, more than 1 million enslaved Africans arrived on slave ships at the wharf, making it the most active port during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Last July, UNESCO named the wharf a World Heritage Center. Rio de Janeiro is considering plans to build a museum as a memorial to the site. The Instituto Dos Pretos Novos, located in the same neighborhood, is a museum dedicated to enslaved Africans who died shortly after they arrived in Brazil.
(Jessamine County, Kentucky) / Camp Nelson was a large Union depot during the Civil War. For a time, Camp Nelson was Kentucky’s largest recruitment and training center for black troops. Thousands of African Americans were emancipated from slavery in exchange for service in the Union army. Some of them brought their families to live at Camp Nelson.
(Cape Coast, Ghana) / Cape Coast Castle played a prominent role in the slave trade and daily guided tours include the slave dungeons, Palaver Hall, the grave of an English Governor, and more. The castle was the headquarters for the British colonial administration for nearly 200 years. A museum houses slave trade artifacts, while a video gives an introduction into how the business of slavery was conducted.
(Lancaster, England) / During the slave trade, Lancaster had the fourth-largest port in Great Britain. The memorial, sculpted by Kevin Dalton-Johnson, is built into the shape of a ship and was unveiled in 2005.
(Diamond, Missouri) / Located at the birthplace and childhood home of the famous black scientist George Washington Carver, the monument is the first unit of the National Park Service dedicated to an African American. The park emphasized Carver’s role as a scientist and educator and offers a number of opportunities for children.
(Pinal County, Arizona) / The 14th century “great house” around which this monument is centered was once part of a chain of settlements along the Gila River and is considered one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. Prized as a trace of ancient Sonoran Desert dwellers who developed wide-scale irrigation farming and a large trade network before leaving the area around the year 1450, the Casa Grande was originally protected as our country’s first archaeological reserve, in 1892. The building, whose exact purpose remains unknown, gained national monument status from President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Today, several Native American groups claim an ancestral link to the builders and occupants of the monument’s eponymous structure.
(New Valley Governorate, Egypt) / The Cave of Swimmers is a cave with ancient rock art in the mountainous Gilf Kebir plateau of the Libyan Desert section of the Sahara. It is located in the New Valley Governorate of southwest Egypt, near the border with Libya.
The cave and rock art was discovered in October 1933 by the Hungarian explorer László Almásy. It contains Neolithic pictographs (rock painting images) and is named due to the depictions of people with their limbs bent as if they were swimming. The drawings include those of giraffe and hippopotamus. They are estimated to have been created as early as 10,000 years ago with the beginning of the African Humid Period, when the Sahara was significantly greener and wetter than it is today. The cause of the climate change 10,000 years ago was due to changes in summer solar insolation and vegetation and dust feedbacks.
Almásy devoted a chapter to the cave in his 1934 book, The Unknown Sahara. In it he postulates that the swimming scenes are real depictions of life at the time of painting and that the artists had realistically drawn their surroundings and that there had been a climatic change from temperate to xeric desert since that time making it drier. This theory was so new at that time that his first editor added several footnotes, to make it clear that he did not share this opinion. In 2007, Eman Ghoneim discovered an ancient mega-lake (30,750 km²) buried beneath the sand of the Great Sahara in the Northern Darfur region, Sudan.
The cave is mentioned in Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient. The film adaptation has a scene in it that has a guide describing in his native language to Almásy the location that Almásy renders a drawing and includes some text that is then placed in the book that he keeps for himself. The cave shown in the film is not the original but a film set created by a contemporary artist.
(San Juan County and McKinley County, New Mexico) / Unfortunately, oil and gas development currently threatens the beauty and tranquility of this park and adjacent land—and it would be a true shame to lose it. Between 850 and 1250 CE, Chaco Canyon, in what is now northwest New Mexico, was a major center of Ancestral Puebloan culture. Today, the surrounding area is protected to preserve the history of those people, including majestic public and ceremonial buildings that are among America’s most significant intact examples of pre-Columbian culture. These multi-story “Great Houses” were truly monumental undertakings, sometimes involving decades of construction, and many were connected by a system of roads to other buildings in the region. It is thought that this area was once a unique gathering place for different clans to meet—a center for trade and cultural exchange that remains a hallowed landmark today.
In 2013, the park received International Dark Sky designation for being one of the best places in the United States to stargaze (due to its distance from artificial light pollution).
(Wilberforce, Ohio) / Officially established in March 2013, the monument memorializes Charles Young, who overcame racism and inequality to become a prominent military leader. Born into slavery, he would become the third African-American graduate of West Point and the highest ranking black officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922.
(Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado) / Mesa Verde was the first national park designated with the express purpose of preserving “the works of man”—in this case the remnants of 6th-12th century Ancestral Puebloans, as exemplified by more than 4,000 known archeological sites, including some of the most notable and well-preserved in the U.S. The park’s signature attractions are some 600 ancient dwellings carved into rock alcoves, stumbled upon by a pair of cowboys—who called it “Cliff Palace”—in the late 19th century. At that point, Mesa Verde had been vacant for hundreds of years. Experts think the last Puebloan residents of the area were forced out when a booming population eventually exhausted natural resources and was torn apart by internal strife. Since 1906, the park has been preserved for the enjoyment and education of all Americans (though oil and gas development in the area pose a threat to the landscape). Tours of the site offer details on these lives, and trails provide opportunities for hiking and snowshoeing. The 360-degree panoramic view at Park Point is one of the most breathtaking in the country.
(Providence, Rhode Island) / Founded in 1819, Congdon Street Baptist Church is the oldest African-American church in Rhode Island. In 1971, it became listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its cultural and architectural significance.
(New Orleans, Louisiana) / Before the days when we could all run for air conditioning, escape into the mall or confine ourselves at home, people would gather together to socialize and try to beat the heat in the summer. In Spanish-controlled New Orleans of the late 18th Century, this even applied to the slaves. Respecting Sunday as a “day of rest,” the Spanish gave their slaves the afternoon off and allowed them to socialize. Like the rest of us, slaves in New Orleans gathered and complained about the heat. They also entertained themselves, making music and dancing.
The city leaders allowed the slaves to congregate, but outside the city, in an open area just outside the original city, north of Rampart Street. This area became known as the Place des Negres, more commonly as Place Congo. By the time the Americans took control, the city had grown past the Vieux Carre, and this gathering point was called Congo Square. Congo Square was the place where black slaves could once again be Africans, even if for just one afternoon a week. They would bring drums, bells, and other musical instruments to the square and gather, roughly by tribe, to play music, sing, and dance.
What separated New Orleans from the British colonies was the more laid-back attitude of the French and Spanish in terms of treatment of slaves. The Catholics in New Orleans followed the old Code Noir (Black Code), which was a much less harsh overall set of guidelines than what the Protestant British followed. Additionally, the Catholics, even the Spanish, usually did not concern themselves with the “African” aspects of slave life and culture that their slaves kept. The British planters demanded their slaves take up Christianity (and the slaves did so, at least in outward forms), and African-based music, song and dance were not permitted. These trends continued after the American Revolution by the original states. When New Orleans (along with the rest of Louisiana) became part of the U.S., it took time for American ways to merge with the Continental philosophy.
That’s why, in 1819, architect Benjamin Latrobe was treated to over 500 slaves making music and dancing every Sunday afternoon. The local Creoles (people of French-Spanish descent) were equally affected by the heat and humidity of the city, so they didn’t have any qualms about descendants of Africans stripping down to next to nothing to drum and dance. Since the Creoles did not demand slaves assimilate into their culture, they didn’t. That meant Latrobe was treated to musical sounds of African-style instruments, such as the bamboula drums. The influx of Le Gens de Couleur Libre, the Free People of Color, accelerated the merging of African rhythms with French songs, as blacks from Haiti joined in the Congo Square gatherings.
The “Calinda” may not have been the most common dance performed by slaves in Congo Square, but it is certainly the best-documented by white observers. Large groups of slaves would form the 18th/19th century equivalent of a mosh pit – hot, sweaty, nearly-naked bodies gyrating in time to the beat of the bamboulas, gourds, and banjos played by musicians. While these dances shocked observers such as Latrobe, the Spanish knew that happy slaves were also more productive. Additionally, calinda-dancing slaves also tired themselves out, which meant they were less likely to practice Voudon in large numbers as the sun went down.
The Sunday afternoon gatherings in Congo Square continued well into the 1880s. After the Civil War, white city leaders tried to suppress the gatherings, even going as far as officially re-naming Place Congo to “Beauregard Square,” after former CSA General (and post-war civic leader) P.G.T. Beauregard. The residents of the Vieux Carre and Faubourg Treme, however, always referred to the area as Congo Square, and that name was formalized by the New Orleans City Council in 2011. The original New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was held in Congo Square in 1970. Jazz Fest rapidly outgrew the square, moving to the New Orleans Fair Grounds racetrack. In a salute to the festival’s and the city’s roots, there still is a “Congo Square Stage” annually at Jazz Fest.
As part of an attempt at “urban renewal” in Faubourg Treme, houses and buildings in the vicinity of Congo Square were demolished by the city, and replaced by Louis Armstrong Park. Congo Square is now a part of the park’s grounds. Music historians regularly argue the significance of Congo Square’s role in the evolution of Jazz. One thing is certain, though—Congo Square kept African music and dance alive in New Orleans, never really dying out.
Edward Branley is the author of New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line, Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans.
(Little Rock, Arkansas) / Daisy Bates was the adviser to the Little Rock Nine, the group of high school students who led desegregation of schools in 1957. The house served as a command post for the group. Although it is not open to the public, it is a great piece of history to view in Little Rock.
(Willemstad, Curaçao) / Tula was an enslaved African who liberated himself and led the Curaçao Slave Revolt of 1795—the largest slave rebellion on the island. The monument, designed by Nel Simon, was erected in 1998 in Willemstad, Curaçao, the same place of Tula’s execution.
(Ouidah, Benin) / The Door of No Return is a memorial arch in Ouidah, Benin. The concrete and bronze arch, which stands on the beach, is a memorial to the enslaved Africans who were taken from the slave port of Ouidah to the Americas.
Several artists and designers collaborated with the architect, Yves Ahouen-Gnimon, to realise the project. The columns and bas-reliefs are by beninese artist Fortuné Bandeira, the freestanding Egunegun are by Yves Kpede and the bronzes are by Dominque Kouas Gnonnou.
(Harlem, New York) / These apartments, located in Harlem, were constructed by John D. Rockefeller in 1926 to provide housing for African Americans. The first project of its kind, the apartments were home to W. E. B. Du Bois, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Paul Robeson, among others.
(Coptic Museum, Cairo, Egypt) / This painting of Jesus is older than the image of the black Jesus Christ in the Church of Rome which is from the 6th century.
(Allamakee / Clayton Counties, Iowa) / The only national monument in Iowa, Effigy Mounds was protected by President Harry Truman in 1949 in order to preserve its namesake series of sacred hillocks, constructed by a culture that inhabited land along the upper Mississippi River, stretching east to Lake Michigan(what is now parts of Iowa, southeast Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois). Numbering more than 200, the mounds were built over thousands of years in a variety of shapes ranging from simple cones to bison and birds. Though the exact function of the mounds as a whole remains unknown, some are burial sites, and experts think that others may have acted as territorial markers. Whatever the mounds’ purpose, more than 15 modern-day tribes, ranging from Minnesota to Oklahoma, are considered to be culturally associated with them. The largest and best-preserved chain of mounds, the evocatively named “Marching Bears,” can only be fully appreciated from overhead.
(Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, India) / Ellora (\e-ˈlȯr-ə\, IAST: Vērūḷ) (एलोरा) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, featuring Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600–1000 CE period. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics.
There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, each group representing deities and mythologies prevalent in the 1st millennium CE, as well as monasteries of each respective religion. They were built close to one another and illustrate the religious harmony that existed in ancient India. All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu and Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region.
Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, the site’s location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region. It is 29 kilometres (18 miles) north-west of Aurangabad, and about 300 kilometres (190 miles) east-northeast of Mumbai. Today, the Ellora Caves, along with the nearby Ajanta Caves, are a major tourist attraction in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra and a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
(Elmina, Central Region, Ghana) / Located in Elmina, Elmina Castle is one of several former slave forts that can be visited along Ghana’s Atlantic coast. It was built in 1482 as a Portuguese trading post and served as a depot for slaves awaiting transport across the Atlantic for more than three centuries. A guided tour will lead you through slave dungeons and punishment cells. A slave auctioning room now houses a small museum.
(Bridgetown, Barbados) / The Emancipation Statue symbolizes the “breaking of the chains” in Barbados. Although slavery was abolished in 1834, most men didn’t receive full freedom until 1838. The statue, sculpted by Barbadian sculptor Karl Broodhagen, was unveiled in 1985. Barbadians widely refer to the statue as Bussa, after the leader of the April 1816 slave revolt.
(Edgard, Louisiana) / With 37 buildings on the National Historic Register, including 22 slave cabins, Evergreen Plantation is the most intact plantation complex in the south and exemplifies major slave plantations of the Antebellum South. Parts of the movie Django Unchained were filmed at this plantation.
(Bent County, Colorado) / Some of the most active and important troops of the western U.S. in the 19th century were companies of African American soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers. Several such companies were quartered here during the Indian Wars, fighting alongside the white soldiers. The historic site has served as an Army fort, a sanatorium, a neuropsychiatry facility, and a minimum-security prison, but now acts as a rehabilitative transitional housing facility for homeless people with some form of substance abuse problem.
(St. Augustine, Florida) / Founded in 1738 by Spanish colonists, this is the site of the first free black settlement in the United States. It provided refuge for slaves fleeing from the British Colonies and was later one of the original stops of the Underground Railroad.
(Lauderdale County, Tennessee) / This 1,642-acre state park preserves the site of the Battle of Fort Pillow, where 229 of the 262 black Union soldiers were massacred by Confederate troops. The park, a national historic landmark, is now home to an interpretive center and museum.
(Washington, D.C.) / The site honors the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass, and the view of the nation’s capital is not to be missed. The house, a colonial mansion where Douglass lived for the last 13 years of his life, can be seen on guided tours.
(Houston, Texas) / This community, located in Houston’s Fourth Ward, was one of the first and the largest post-Civil War African American communities in Texas. It was founded by former Texas slaves who left their plantations upon hearing of liberation.
(Detroit, Michigan) / The Gateway to Freedom International Memorial to the Underground Railroad commemorates Detroit’s role in the Underground Railroad. It was sculpted by Edward Dwight after he won a competition to design the memorial, and dedicated on Oct. 20, 2001.
(Silver City, New Mexico) / Surrounded by the Gila National Forest (and at the edge of the Gila Wilderness), this monument, protected by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, is named for its most striking feature—the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples who lived in the area in the late 13th- and early 14th century. While the monument covers comparatively little physical ground, it offers a wealth of things for visitors to do once they’ve finished exploring these rare traces of ancient Puebloan culture: activities in the broader area include hiking, bird-watching, camping, fishing and horseback riding.
(Seville, Spain) / The Giralda is one of the of the only remnants of the Great Mosque of Seville that once stood on the site of Seville’s cathedral, which is today the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The former minaret is now the cathedral’s bell tower and visitors can climb to the top by walking up a series of ramps. The ramps were installed instead of stairs, so legend has it, so that even animals were able to walk up to the top.
(Giza City, Giza, Greater Cairo, Egypt) / The Giza pyramid complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a workers’ village.
The site is at the edges of the Western Desert, approximately 9 km (5 mi) west of the Nile River in the city of Giza, and about 13 km (8 mi) southwest of the city centre of Cairo.
The Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Khafre are the largest pyramids built in ancient Egypt, and they have historically been common as emblems of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination. They were popularised in Hellenistic times, when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
(Halls Gap, Australia) / The Grampians, three hours’ drive west of Melbourne, is another treasure trove of ancient rock art, containing 90% of all the Aboriginal rock paintings in the entire state of Victoria. The Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap leads tours into the national park to discover the rock art sites, including the Manja and Billimina shelters in the Western Grampians and Ngamadjidj and Gulgurn Manja in the north.
(Córdoba, Spain) / The Great Mosque of Córdoba was built in 784 by Abd al-Rahman I, its design inspired by the mosques of Damascus and al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. Its original design, with Roman-inspired red and white columns and arches that split the vast space into 11 naves, would become influential in the world of architecture. The mosque, which was later expanded, was the centre of Islamic life in Córdoba for over three centuries and was renowned for its great beauty throughout Al-Andalus. It was converted into a Catholic church in 1236 when Christians took over the rule of the city. These days, it is the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and used as a Christian place of worship.
(Djenné, Mopti, Mali) / The Great Mosque of Djenné (French: Grande mosquée de Djenné, Arabic: الجامع الكبير في جينيه) is a large banco or adobe building that is considered by many architects to be one of the greatest achievements of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style. The mosque is located in the city of Djenné, Mali, on the flood plain of the Bani River. The first mosque on the site was built around the 13th century, but the current structure dates from 1907. As well as being the centre of the community of Djenné, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa. Along with the “Old Towns of Djenné” it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
(Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania) / The Great Mosque of Kilwa is a congregational mosque on the island of Kilwa Kisiwani, in Tanzania. It was likely founded in the tenth century, but the two major stages of construction date to the eleventh or twelfth and thirteenth century, respectively. It is one of the earliest surviving mosques on the east African coast and is one of the first mosques built without a courtyard.
The smaller northern prayer hall dates to the first phase of construction and was built in the 11th or 12th century. It contained a total of 16 bays, supported by nine pillars, originally carved from coral but later replaced by timber. The structure, which was entirely roofed, was perhaps one of the first mosques to have been originally built without a courtyard. It was modified in the 13th century adding side pilasters, timber, transverse beams.
In the early fourteenth century, Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman, who also built the nearby Palace of Husuni Kubwa, added a southern extension which included a great dome. This dome was described by Ibn Battuta after he visited Kilwa in 1331. Ibn Battuta’s descriptions were not entirely accurate though, claiming that the mosque was completely made of wood, while stone walls were found to predate the fourteenth century.
(Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe) / Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age. Construction on the city began in the 11th century and continued until it was abandoned in the 15th century. The edifices were erected by the ancestral Shona. The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres(2.79 square miles) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice’s most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high. They were constructed without mortar (dry stone). Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.
The earliest known written mention of the Great Zimbabwe ruins was in 1531 by Vicente Pegado, captain of the Portuguese garrison of Sofala, on the coast of modern-day Mozambique, who recorded it as Symbaoe. The first confirmed visits by Europeans were in the late 19th century, with investigations of the site starting in 1871. Later, studies of the monument were controversial in the archaeological world, with political pressure being put upon archaeologists by the government of Rhodesia to deny its construction by native African people. Great Zimbabwe has since been adopted as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government, and the modern independent state was named after it. The word great distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as “zimbabwes”, spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld. There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls; Great Zimbabwe is the largest of these.
(Savannah, Georgia) / The Haitian Monument in Franklin Square honors the largest unit of men of African descent who were recruited from present-day Haiti to serve in the Revolutionary War.
(Hartford, Connecticut) / This was the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the place where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin between 1850 and 1852. The center is dedicated to providing educational experiences and a place to witness and discuss aspects of the author’s life and legacy.
(Auburn, New York) / The home of renowned Underground Railroad leader and the charity she founded for aged and indigent African Americans are both open to the public and illustrate Tubman’s life in Auburn between 1859 and 1913. Also worth visiting is the Thompson AME Zion Church on Parker Street, where she worshipped.
(Dorchester County, Maryland) / President Obama established this site as a national monument in March, 2013. It comprises several places of significance to Tubman’s life, including the James Cook home site (where Tubman was hired out as a child) and the Jacobs Jackson home site (one of the first safe houses on the Underground Railroad).
(Oran, Algeria) / The Hassan Pasha Mosque (Arabic: مسجد حسن الباشا, Masjid Hassan el-Basha), also referred to as the Pasha Mosque or the Grand Mosque, is a mosque located in Oran, Algeria. It was built in 1796 by order of Baba Hassan, Pasha of Algiers, in memory of the expulsion of the Spanish. During the French Invasion of Algiers in 1830, French soldiers would occupy the mosque during their invasion of Algeria as their living-quarters. 5 years after the French Invasion, in 1835, the building was established as a mosque and renovated three decades later. In 1952, the mosque was listed as a historic monument. Since 2010, this historic monument has been closed to the public.
(Paterson, New Jersey) / This stadium was the home field for the New York Black Yankees between 1933 and 1937, and again from 1939 to 1945. Hinchliffe is one of the few surviving stadiums for black athletes during the segregation era.
(Salvador, Bahia, Brazil) / The Historic Center (US) or Centre (UK; Portuguese: Centro Histórico) of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, also known as the Pelourinho (Portuguese for “Pillory”) or Pelo, is a historic neighborhood in western Salvador, Bahia. It was the city’s center during the Portuguese colonial period and was named for the whipping post in its central plaza where African slaves received punishment for various infractions, as well as for disciplinary purposes. The Historic Center is extremely rich in historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries.
Salvador was the first colonial capital of Brazil and the city is one of the oldest in the New World (founded in 1549 by Portuguese settlers). It was also one of the first slave markets on the continent, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations. The area is in the older part of the upper city (Cidade Alta) of Salvador. It encompasses several blocks around the triangular Largo, and it is the location for music, dining and nightlife. It has a place on the national historic register and was named a world cultural center by UNESCO in 1985.
(Charleston, South Carolina) / The National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary describes 43 historic places in this extraordinary area, including the Old Slave Mart, Old Bethel Methodist, and Emanuel AME. The Old Slave Mart is the only known surviving building used as a slave auction gallery in South Carolina. Emanuel AME was built in 1891 and is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the South.
(Miami, Florida) / While Miami Beach was in the spotlight for its musicians and nightclub acts, it was Liberty City and the Hampton House that the black performers returned to when the show was over. These musicians included Sammy Davis, Jr., Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole and many others. Berry Gordy, founder of MoTown Records stayed here, and DJ China Valles broadcast a live jazz show from the club on radio station WMBM.
Not only Ali, but other athletes also visited the Hampton House, including Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis and Althea Gibson. It wasn’t just a celebrity hangout, though. It was a hotspot for people of the neighborhood on weekend evenings and after church on Sundays.
The two-story, 50-room Miami Modern-style inn had a jazz club, restaurant and a swimming pool. Martin Luther King, Jr. was famously photographed in his swim trunks enjoying a dip in the pool. While the Hampton House was a hotspot for entertainment and known as the “Social Center for the South,” it was also the sight for weekly meetings by the Congress for Racial Equality. Dr. King visited often during the early 1960s and delivered a version of his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Hampton House in 1960 before his legendary oration at the March on Washington in 1963.
(Dakar, Senegal) / The House of Slaves on Senegal’s Goree Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site that features the Door of No Return—an open door leading to the Atlantic Ocean. Since the 1960s, the site has been a part of an obligatory pilgrimage for Afro-descendants looking to connect with their African heritage. Outside the house stands a freedom statue.
(Chicago, Illinois) / This was the Chicago home of the late 19th century civil rights advocate and Chicago Conservator investigative writer Ida B. Wells. Although this house is not open to the public, it is a great piece of African-American history to look at in Chicago.
(Dakar, Senegal) / Lying just a short distance off Dakar, the colorful Ile de Goree has a dark past: for almost three hundred years, the French housed Africans here before shipping them overseas into a life of slavery. Now full of brightly colored colonial buildings, there is a laidback vibe about the island and it is only when you see the bleak dungeons and iron shackles that you begin to understand its dark history.
(Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts) / Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, part of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod Islands, is one of several historic African American summer resort communities along the Atlantic seaboard founded in the 1890s. The” Inkwell” or Town Beach in Oak Bluffs is the name of the popular beach frequented by African Americans beginning in the late nineteenth century. The strand was pejoratively called “The Inkwell” by nearby whites in reference to the skin color of the beach-goers. It is the most famous of beaches across the U.S. to transform this odious nickname into an emblem of pride.
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) / This was the home of American jazz legend John Coltrane from 1952 to 1967, two years before his death. Coltrane was a tenor saxophonist and a composer who played an important role in the development of jazz. The John Coltrane House is also the name of a nonprofit seeking to restore the house and operate it as a museum.
(Jabiru, Australia) / Covering almost 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu isn’t only Australia’s biggest national park — it’s also larger than the entire nation of Fiji. Found three hours’ drive from Darwin, the park is renowned for its 5000 Aboriginal art sites, as well as archaeological evidence that shows Indigenous occupation dating back at least 20,000 years… not to mention the breathtaking Northern Territory landscapes for visitors to feast their eyes on.
(Karnak, Luxor, Luxor Governorate, Egypt) / The history of the Karnak complex is largely the history of Thebes and its changing role in the culture. Religious centers varied by region, and when a new capital of the unified culture was established, the religious centers in that area gained prominence. The city of Thebes does not appear to have been of great significance before the Eleventh Dynasty and previous temple building there would have been relatively small, with shrines being dedicated to the early deities of Thebes, the Earth goddess Mut and Montu. Early building was destroyed by invaders. The earliest known artifact found in the area of the temple is a small, eight-sided column from the Eleventh Dynasty, which mentions Amun-Re. Amun (sometimes called Amen) was long the local tutelary deity of Thebes. He was identified with the ram and the goose. The Egyptian meaning of Amun is, “hidden” or, the “hidden god.”
(Mount Olga, Australia) / About 30km from Uluru lies Central Australia’s other iconic rock formation: Kata Tjuta, a group of 36 enormous domes sprinkled across the ochre red landscape. The boulders — also known in English as the Olgas — are 500 million years old, and the Anangu people have inhabited the area for more than 22,000 years, with many secret spiritual legends surrounding the site.
(Western Australia) (Kimberley, Australia) / The northernmost region of Western Australia is home to some of the oldest and most complex rock art in the world, with scientists dating some paintings in the north-west Kimberley at 16,000 years old. Broome — perched on the Indian Ocean, with famous sunsets over Cable Beach — is the biggest town in the area, serving as a launchpad for visitors to explore the miles of rugged terrain.
(Jacksonville, Florida) / Kingsley Plantation was established in 1763, making it the oldest known plantation in Florida. Today, the plantation is a house museum, displaying exhibits and furnishings that depict life on the plantation in its earliest years.
(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) / Le Marron Inconnu de Saint-Domingue, shortened as Le Marron Inconnu (French pronunciation: [lə ma.ʁɔ̃ ɛ̃.kɔ.ny], “The Unknown Slave”), also called Le Nègre Marron or Nèg Mawon (Haitian Creole pronunciation: [nɛɡ ma.ʁɔ̃], “Maroon Man”), is a bronze statue of a runaway slave; standing in the center of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, it commemorates the abolishment of slavery. Designed and executed by Haitian sculptor and architect Albert Mangonès (1917–2002), it was completed on 22 September 1967. The sculpture serves as a reminder of the call to rebellion in the colony of Saint-Domingue against slave-holding France in 1791. Situated across from the National Palace, it has become the nation’s iconic symbol of freedom, and is viewed across the world as a symbol for the freedom of black people.
(Harlem, New York) / This is the former home of James Langston Hughes (1902-1967), author, poet, and one of the foremost figures in the Harlem Renaissance.
(Khoms, Libya) / Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names in antiquity, was a prominent city of the Carthaginian Empire and Roman Libya at the mouth of the Wadi Lebdam in the Mediterranean.
Originally a 7th-century BC Phoenician foundation, it was greatly expanded under Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (r.193–211), who was a native of the city. The 3rd Augustan Legion was stationed here to defend the city against Berber incursions. After the legion’s dissolution under Gordian III in 238, the city was increasingly open to raids in the later part of the 3rd century. Diocletian reinstated the city as provincial capital, and it grew again in prosperity until it fell to the Vandals in 439. It was reincorporated into the Eastern Empire in 533 but continued to be plagued by Berber raids and never recovered its former importance. It fell to the Muslim invasion in c. 647 and was subsequently abandoned.
Its ruins are within present-day Khoms, Libya, 130 km (81 mi) east of Tripoli. They are among the best-preserved Roman sites in the Mediterranean.
(Washington, D.C.) / This park features the Mary McLeod Bethune memorial (the first monument to honor a black woman in a public park) and the Abraham Lincoln memorial. Frederick Douglass delivered a keynote address here before President Ulysses S. Grant, his cabinet and members of Congress, discussing both his approval and disapproval of the monument. Funds for the monument were collected solely from freed slaves, primarily African-American Union veterans.
(Little Rock, Arkansas) / This National Historic Site is recognized as where the first major confrontation over the implementation of the Brown v. Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court ruling occurred, in 1957. Nine African-American students were determined to attending the formerly all-white Central High School and made history with their persistence.
(National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa) / Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of fossilized bone representing 40 percent of the skeleton of a female of the hominin species Australopithecus afarensis. In Ethiopia, the assembly is also known as Dinkinesh, which means “you are marvelous” in the Amharic language. Lucy was discovered in 1974 in Africa, at Hadar, a site in the Awash Valley of the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia, by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
The Lucy specimen is an early australopithecine and is dated to about 3.2 million years ago. The skeleton presents a small skull akin to that of non-hominin apes, plus evidence of a walking-gait that was bipedal and upright, akin to that of humans (and other hominins); this combination supports the view of human evolution that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size. A 2016 study proposes that Australopithecus afarensis was also to a large extent tree-dwelling, though the extent of this is debated.
“Lucy” acquired her name from the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles, which was played loudly and repeatedly in the expedition camp all evening after the excavation team’s first day of work on the recovery site. After public announcement of the discovery, Lucy captured much public interest, becoming a household name at the time.
Lucy became famous worldwide, and the story of her discovery and reconstruction was published in a book by Johanson. Beginning in 2007, the fossil assembly and associated artifacts were exhibited publicly in an extended six-year tour of the United States; the exhibition was called Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia. There was discussion of the risks of damage to the unique fossils, and other museums preferred to display casts of the fossil assembly. The original fossils were returned to Ethiopia in 2013, and subsequent exhibitions have used casts.
(Luxor, Egypt) / The modern city sprawls to the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Waset, also known as Nut(Coptic: ⲛⲏ) and to the Greeks as Thebes or Diospolis, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the “world’s greatest open-air museum,” as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples and tombs of the west bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
Thousands of tourists from all around the world arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing greatly to the economy of the modern city.
(Omaha, Nebraska) / Civil rights leader Malcolm X was born in a house on this site. Though the house has been demolished, there is a visitor center and historical marker worth checking out.
(Atlanta, Georgia) / This historic site includes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s boyhood home, gravesite and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was baptized and both his father and he were pastors. The visitor center contains a museum chronicling the American Civil Rights Movement and the instrumental role King played.
(Washington, D.C.) / Completed in August 2011, this solid granite sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrating King’s dedication to civil rights and racial equality, can be found in West Potomac Park near the National Mall.
(Washington, D.C.) / Bethune made her home in the townhouse from 1943 to 1955. She purchased it for $15,500. Bethune lived on the third floor, while the National Council of Negro Women occupied the first and second floors. The floor plan of the home remains unchanged from the days when Bethune lived there, and most of the furnishings are original to the home and owned by Bethune and the NCNW.
(Córdoba, Spain) / Spain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as an huge palace-city complex on the slopes overlooking Córdoba between 936 and 940 AD. It was a bustling metropolis and the centre of the Caliphate of Córdoba, home to the government, mosques, the mint, residential and administrative buildings and workshops. By 1010 AD it had been destroyed during a civil war, and it subsequently lay buried for centuries before being unearthed in the early 1900s. Today, although barely 10 percent of the complex has been excavated, it gives us a glimpse of the power of Spain’s early Muslim rulers.
(Marrakesh, Morocco) / Founded in 1070–72 by the Almoravids, Marrakesh remained a political, economic and cultural centre for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia. It has several impressive monuments dating from that period: the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements, monumental doors, gardens, etc. Later architectural jewels include the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Place Jamaâ El Fna, a veritable open-air theatre.
(Nantes, France) / As France’s most important port city, Nantes played a crucial role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Forty percent of the country’s slave trade was carried out through the city. The museum opened in 2012 and is located in a wharf where slave ships moored before departing to Africa.
(River Nile, Sudan) / Meroë (/ˈmɛroʊeɪ/; also spelled Meroe; Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: مرواه Meruwah and مروى Meruwi; Ancient Greek: Μερόη, Meróē) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë gave its name to the “Island of Meroë”, which was the modern region of Butana, a region bounded by the Nile (from the Atbarah River to Khartoum), the Atbarah and the Blue Nile.
The city of Meroë was on the edge of Butana. There were two other Meroitic cities in Butana: Musawwarat es-Sufra and Naqa. The first of these sites was given the name Meroë by the Persian king, Cambyses, in honor of his sister who was called by that name. The city had originally borne the ancient appellation Saba, named after the country’s original founder. The eponym Saba, or Seba, is named for one of the sons of Cush (see Genesis 10:7). The presence of numerous Meroitic sites within the western Butana region and on the border of Butana proper is significant to the settlement of the core of the developed region. The orientation of these settlements exhibit the exercise of state power over subsistence production.
The Kingdom of Kush which housed the city of Meroë represents one of a series of early states located within the middle Nile. It is one of the earliest and most impressive states found south of the Sahara. Looking at the specificity of the surrounding early states within the middle Nile, one’s understanding of Meroë in combination with the historical developments of other historic states may be enhanced through looking at the development of power relation characteristics within other Nile Valley states.
The site of the city of Meroë is marked by more than two hundred pyramids in three groups, of which many are in ruins. They have the distinctive size and proportions of Nubian pyramids.
(Toledo, Spain) / The city of Toledo, southwest of Madrid, experienced a long period of‘convivencia‘ during the Middle Ages, when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony. The flourishing of all three cultures bestowed the city with a feast of architecture, including the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz. The small mosque was built in 999 and was one of ten in the city. The brickwork on the exterior of the building was designed to resemble Córdoba’s Great Mosque.
(Shire of Douglas, Queensland, Australia) / The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people inhabited this pocket of North Queensland near Cairns for thousands of years before European colonisation, and that culture is still thriving today. Every visitor should go on a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk through the lush rainforest, including a traditional smoking ceremony and exclusive access to a sacred site.
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) / Founded in 1794 by minister and educator Richard Allen, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal is the oldest church property continuously owned by African-Americans. The church offers a Richard Allen Museum with exhibitions as well as a tour of the church sanctuary.
(Egmont National Park, New Zealand) / Rising high above the land and looked out towards the ocean, Mt Taranaki, meaning ‘Gliding Peak’, is a spiritually important landmark for Māori. Taranaki was one of the mountains that fought for Pihanga’s favour and lost. Travelling through the night, he scarred the earth with a huge trail as he moved west. In his new place by the sea, he cried for Pihanga and his tears flowed into the trail, becoming the great Whanganui River. When cloud covers the mountain, Taranaki is hiding his tears.
The scenic coastal route in Taranaki passes old battle grounds and historic Māori pa (fortified villages) that tell stories about the region’s history and culture.
(Indora Bridge 10, Kamptee Road, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India) / The Namantar Shahid Smarak (English: Name Change Martyrdom Memorial) is a large memorial sculpture dedicated to those who died in the Namantar Andolan. The Namantar Andolan was a 1978 to 1994 movement in India by Dalits (formerly known as Untouchables) who wanted to rename a university in honour of a leading Dalit, B. R. Ambedkar. The movement was vigorously opposed by members of the Hindu community. During 16 years of struggle, there were murders, torture, rapes, burning of colonies, poisoning of wells, property damage, boycotts and lockouts. In 2013, 19 years after the movement’s success, the city government of Nagpur erected this monument in memory of the valour and the sacrifice of Dalit martyrs.
(Cincinnati, Ohio) / Opened in 2004 in downtown Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River, the museum attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually. The museum’s mission is to inspire everyone to take part in the modern struggles for freedom by connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.
(Amsterdam, Netherlands) / The National Slavery Monument in Amsterdam was sculpted by Erwin de Vries and commemorates the abolition of slavery in the Netherlands in 1863 and was unveiled in 2002. Every year on July 1, the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and Its Legacy commemorates the abolition of Dutch slavery in the Oosterpark with the Keti Koti festival.
(Juffureh Village, Gambia) / The monument is in Jufureh Village, which was made famous by Alex Haley’s depiction in Roots.
(Nicodemus, Kansas) / Named after an African-American slave who purchased his freedom, this site is where a predominately black community was established during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Buildings on the site include Township Hall, First Baptist Church and a schoolhouse, among others.
(Okavango Grassland, Botswana) / The Okavango Delta (or Okavango Grassland) (formerly spelled“Okovango” or “Okovanggo”) in Botswana is a swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired and does not flow into any sea or ocean. Each year, about 11 cubic kilometres (2.6 cu mi) of water spread over the 6,000–15,000 km2 (2,300–5,800 sq mi) area. Some flood waters drain into Lake Ngami. The area was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that had mostly dried up by the early Holocene.
The Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park, is on the eastern side of the Delta. The Delta was named as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, which were officially declared on 11 February 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania. On 22 June 2014, the Okavango Delta became the 1000th site to be officially inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
(Great Rift Valley, Tanzania) / The Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge in Tanzania is one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world; it has proven invaluable in furthering understanding of early human evolution. A steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley that stretches across East Africa, it is about 48 km (30 mi) long, and is located in the eastern Serengeti Plains within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the Arusha Region, about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Laetoli, another important archaeological site of early human occupation. The British/Kenyan paleoanthropologist-archeologist team Mary and Louis Leakey established and developed the excavation and research programs at Olduvai Gorge which achieved great advances of human knowledge and world-renowned status.
The gorge takes its name from the Maasai word oldupai which means “the place of the wild sisal” as the East African wild sisal (Sansevieria ehrenbergii) grows abundantly throughout the gorge area. Twenty-five kilometers downstream of Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek, the gorge cuts into Pleistocene lake bed sediments up to a depth of 90 m. A side gorge, originating from Lemagrut Mountain, joins the main gorge 8 km from the mouth. This side gorge follows the shoreline of a prehistoric lake, rich in fossils and early man sites. Periodic flows of volcanic ash from Olmoti and Kerimasi helped to ensure preservation of the fossils in the gorge.
The site is significant in showing the increasing developmental and social complexities in the earliest humans, or hominins, largely revealed in the production and use of stone tools. Prior to tools, evidence of scavenging and hunting can be noted—highlighted by the presence of gnaw marks that predate cut marks—and of the ratio of meat versus plant material in the early hominin diet. The collecting of tools and animal remains in a centralised area is evidence of developing social interaction and communal activity. All these factors indicate an increase in cognitive capacities at the beginning of the period of hominids transitioning to hominin—that is, to human—form and behaviour.
Homo habilis, probably the first early human species, occupied Olduvai Gorge approximately 1.9 million years ago(mya); then came a contemporary australopithecine, Paranthropus boisei, 1.8 mya, followed by Homo erectus, 1.2 mya. Our species Homo sapiens, which is estimated to have emerged roughly 300,000 years ago, is dated to have occupied the site 17,000 years ago.
(La Venta, San Lorenzo and Tres Zapotez, Mexico) / The Olmec colossal heads are stone representations of human heads sculpted from large basalt boulders. They range in height from 1.17 to 3.4 metres (3.8 to 11.2 ft). The heads date from at least 900 BC and are a distinctive feature of the Olmec civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. All portray mature individuals with fleshy cheeks, flat noses, and slightly crossed eyes; their physical characteristics correspond to a type that is still common among the inhabitants of Tabasco and Veracruz. The backs of the monuments often are flat. The boulders were brought from the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas mountains of Veracruz. Given that the extremely large slabs of stone used in their production were transported over large distances (over 150 kilometres (93mi)), requiring a great deal of human effort and resources, it is thought that the monuments represent portraits of powerful individual Olmec rulers. Each of the known examples has a distinctive headdress. The heads were variously arranged in lines or groups at major Olmec centres, but the method and logistics used to transport the stone to these sites remain unclear. They all display distinctive headgear and one theory is that these were worn as protective helmets, maybe worn for war or to take part in a ceremonial Mesoamerican ballgame.
The discovery of the first colossal head at Tres Zapotes in 1862 by José María Melgar y Serrano was not well documented nor reported outside of Mexico. The excavation of the same colossal head by Matthew Stirling in 1938 spurred the first archaeological investigations of Olmec culture. Seventeen confirmed examples are known from four sites within the Olmec heartland on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Most colossal heads were sculpted from spherical boulders but two from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán were re-carved from massive stone thrones. An additional monument, at Takalik Abaj in Guatemala, is a throne that may have been carved from a colossal head. This is the only known example from outside the Olmec heartland.
Dating the monuments remains difficult because of the movement of many from their original contexts prior to archaeological investigation. Most have been dated to the Early Preclassic period (1500–1000 BC) with some to the Middle Preclassic (1000–400 BC) period. The smallest weigh 6 tons, while the largest is variously estimated to weigh 40 to 50 tons, although it was abandoned and left uncompleted close to the source of its stone.
(Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States) / The campaign that led a stretch of picturesque land near Las Cruces, New Mexico was a major initiative of The Wilderness Society—but it was led in part by local tribal leaders, a fitting testament to the significance of this place to Native Americans. The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo tribe asked that the area be protected in part to preserve an expanse of ancient petroglyphs, and the Fort Sill Apache tribe, considered modern-day successors to the Apache that originally inhabited parts of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region, requested that they be accepted as partners in managing the monument for future generations. The mountain ranges and rugged plains here contain traces of civilizations hundreds of years old (and in some cases much older); the Paleo-Indian peoples who once roamed the Potrillo grasslands hunted now-extinct game like giant ground sloths thousands of years before Christopher Columbus was born. Stretches of land protected by the monument contain some of the earliest known prehistoric habitation sites in southern New Mexico, among many significant historical and archaeological resources.
(Las Cruces, New Mexico) / This century-old church, now called Christian Methodist Episcopal, is the oldest African-American church in southern New Mexico. It was founded when a group of American Americans and Hispanics joined to build a small chapel in what is now the Mesquite Historic District.
(Saint Paul, Minnesota) / Founded in 1863, Pilgrim Baptist is the oldest African American church in Minnesota.
(San Francisco, California) / On July 17, 1944, 320 men, mostly African-American sailors, were instantly killed in a massive explosion. Two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theatre troops blew up, causing World War II’s worst homefront disaster.
(The Uffizi, Florence, Italy) / When Lorenzo de’Medici died, Florence entered a period of political instability spanning decades, in which opponents and supporters of the Medici disputed its leadership, taking turns at its helm until 1530. Then, following the alliance of Pope Clement VII de’Medici and Charles V, the opponents of the Medici were defeated by the imperial troops that besieged the city. Alessandro de’ Medici, known as“The Moor”, due to his dark complexion, was the natural son of Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, brother to the Pope, and a servant of mixed race. However, some believe that he was actually the son of the Pope, who asked the emperor to appoint him Duke of Florence.
This portrait of Alessandro was commissioned to Vasari by Ottaviano de’Medici, probably on the request of the duke himself, similarly to the circumstances that had preceded the commissioning of the Portrait of Lorenzo de’Medici a few months earlier.
Both paintings came with long accompanying letters revealing the allegorical meaning of the works, which aimed to celebrate the Medici dynasty under which the painter from Arezzo would continue to serve as court painter and architect throughout his artistic career.
The young duke is portrayed full figure in a style that was unusual for the period, but in any case, clearly resembles that of the portrait of Giuliano de’Medici painted by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The splendid armour he is wearing in the painting is the reflection of his qualities, whereas the red cloak draped over the stool symbolises the blood of his defeated enemies. The round stool indicates that his kingdom will be everlasting because his opponents, represented by the herms sculpted on its legs, have been overcome forever. In the background, the city of Florence in flames recalls the siege of 1530, whereas the laurel leaf full of vitality sprouting from the sawn-off tree trunk, a reference to Pontormo’s Portrait of Cosimo the Elder, symbolises the Medici dynasty restored to power and stronger than before, following its exile.
Alessandro’s reign over the Tuscan city was effectively a short one, because on the night between the 6th and 7th of January 1537 he was assassinated by his cousin Lorenzino. When he died, the senior branch of the family died with him, but the power of the Medici family would soon be assured by the rise of the branch known as “Popolano”, with Cosimo I.
(Chicago, Illinois) / Pullman was an industrial town founded in May 1880 as the realization of George M. Pullman’s wish to create a model community for working-class people. The historic district includes the Pullman factory and the Hotel Florence, as well as the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which is dedicated to African-American labor history.
(Kingston, Jamaica) / The Redemption Song monument by Jamaican artist Laura Facey was unveiled in 2003 in Kingston’s Emancipation Park, and shows a nude black couple looking at the sky to represent their triumphant emergence out of the horrors of slavery. The artist was inspired by the words of national hero Marcus Garvey, “None but ourselves can free our minds,” which were also interpreted by Bob Marley in “Redemption Song.”
(Cape Town, South Africa) / Robben Island (Afrikaans: Robbeneiland) is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 kilometres (4.3 mi) west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. It takes its name from the Dutch word for seals (robben), hence the Dutch/Afrikaans name Robbeneiland which translates to Seal(s) Island. Robben Island is roughly oval in shape, 3.3 km (2.1 mi) long north-south, and 1.9 km (1.2 mi) wide, with an area of 5.08 km2 (1.96 sq mi). It is flat and only a few metres above sea level, as a result of an ancient erosion event. It was fortified and used as a prison from the late 17th century to 1996, after the end of apartheid. Many of its prisoners were political.
Political activist Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid and expansion of the franchise to all residents of the country. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and was elected in 1994 as President of South Africa, serving one term. In addition, two other former inmates of Robben Island have been elected as President of South Africa since the late 1990s: Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma.
Robben Island is a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(Lalibela, Ethiopia) / In a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, some 645 km from Addis Ababa, eleven medieval monolithic churches were carved out of rock. Their building is attributed to King Lalibela who set out to construct in the 12th century a ‘New Jerusalem’, after Muslim conquests halted Christian pilgrimages to the holy Land. Lalibela flourished after the decline of the Aksum Empire.
There are two main groups of churches – to the north of the river Jordan: Biete Medhani Alem (House of the Saviour of the World), Biete Mariam (House of Mary), Biete Maskal (House of the Cross), Biete Denagel (House of Virgins), Biete Golgotha Mikael (House of Golgotha Mikael); and to the south of the river, Biete Amanuel (House of Emmanuel), Biete Qeddus Mercoreus (House of St. Mercoreos), Biete Abba Libanos (House of Abbot Libanos), Biete Gabriel Raphael(House of Gabriel Raphael), and Biete Lehem (House of Holy Bread). The eleventh church, Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), is isolated from the others, but connected by a system of trenches.
The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs.
Biete Medhani Alem, with its five aisles, is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, while Biete Ghiorgis has a remarkable cruciform plan. Most were probably used as churches from the outset, but Biete Mercoreos and Biete Gabriel Rafael may formerly have been royal residences. Several of the interiors are decorated with mural paintings.
Near the churches, the village of Lalibela has two storey round houses, constructed of local red stone, and known as the Lasta Tukuls. These exceptional churches have been the focus of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians since the 12th century.
(Seville, Spain) / More a homage to Moorish architecture than a Moorish site itself, the Royal Alcázar of Seville was built for King Peter of Castile and some of the same artisans who worked on the Alhambra over the years helped fashion its ornate interiors. It is still used by the Spanish royal family as their official residence in Seville, making it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
(Medford, Massachusetts) / In the eighteenth century this was the home of the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts. Now it is the site of a museum containing archaeological artifacts and household items and offering tours and educational programs.
(Georgetown, Guyana) / Cuffy was an enslaved African who led a revolt in 1763 against the Dutch colony regime. The anniversary of the Cuffy rebellion is celebrated every Feb. 23 as a holiday in Guyana. A monument to him stands in the Square of the Revolution in Georgetown.
(KwaDukuza/Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) / The Shaka Memorial is a provincial heritage site in Stanger in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It marks the resting place of the Zulu King Shaka near the site where he was assassinated by his half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana while sitting on a rock near the barracks at his capital Dukuza.
According to the 1938 Government Gazette, the monument was made in Newcastle and erected in 1932 on the site of King Shaka’s grave.
Adjacent to the memorial is the rock on which King Shaka was alleged to be sitting at the time of his assassination on 22 September 1828. It was rolled across the street from its original site to where it now lies. The date is commemorated by a gathering at the memorial in honour of King Shaka led by the Zulu king, his warriors and dignitaries.
(Matrouh, Egypt) / The Siwa Oasis (Arabic: واحة سيوة, Wāḥat Sīwah, IPA: [ˈwæːħet ˈsiːwæ]; Coptic: ⲥⲓⲟⲩⲁϩ Siwah; Berber languages: Isiwan, ⵉⵙⵉⵡⴰⵏ ) is an urban oasis in Egypt between the Qattara Depression and the Great Sand Sea in the Western Desert, 50 km (30 mi) east of the Libyan border, and 560 km (348 mi) from Cairo. About 80 km (50mi) in length and 20 km (12 mi) wide, Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt’s most isolated settlements with about 33,000 people, mostly Berbers, who developed a unique and isolated desert culture and a distinct dialect and language different than all other dialects called Siwi, they are also fluent in the Egyptian dialect of Arabic which is called “Masry” meaning Egyptian.
Its fame lies primarily in its ancient role as the home to an oracle of Ammon, the ruins of which are a popular tourist attraction which gave the oasis its ancient name Oasis of Amun Ra. Historically, it was part of Ancient Egypt.
(Zanzibar, Tanzania) / The Slave Memorial in Zanzibar, Tanzania, recalls how slaves were once held in underground chambers until sold in the nearby slave market. Swedish sculptor Clara Sornas produced the work in 1998.
(Richmond, Virginia) / The 15-foot, half-ton bronze sculpture — depicting two people melded in an embrace — was erected not far from Richmond’s former slave market in Shockoe Bottom. There are three large wood block benches that triangulate the statue and a cascading fountain with captions describing the significance of the statue.
(Aupouri Peninsula, New Zealand) / Just before reaching Cape Reinga at the top on the North Island, there is a stretch of beach, where spirits gather to leave this world. Spirits Bay is perhaps the country’s most renowned place for supernatural beings – according to ancient Māori beliefs, spirits, both in groups and by themselves, move down the beach at night before disappearing. These spirits are focused on reaching a particular part of the beach and cannot be distracted from their goal.
(Mexico City, Mexico) / Even after losing a majority of his forces, the young Guerrero continued to fight in southern New Spain with only a handful of remaining insurgents. Even though Guerrero´s band was defeated, years of fighting took a heavy toll on the Spanish. On February 24, 1821, the leader of the Spanish forces, General Agustin de Iturbide, decided to make peace with Guerrero to stop the war that had lasted more than ten years. The two men met, and the agreement was sealed with the well-known “Abrazo de Acatempan” (The Acatempan Hug, because the two men’s embrace occurred in that city) on February 10, 1821 when both legions united to form the“Trigarante” army (the Army of Three Guarantees—religion, independence, and unity. Iturbide wrote the “El Plan de Iguala” on February 24 that declared Mexico as an independent and sovereign nation where the following points were established:
- New Spain, was no longer a Spanish dependent.
- Catholicism became the nation’s official religion.
- The unification of everyone despite their African, Mexican, Asian, or Spanish roots.
During his brief tenure, Guerrero managed to defend Mexico from an attempt by the Spanish to reconquer the nation. To defend his motherland, however, he exhausted the nation’s back up financial resources, which was met with disapproval from the country’s aristocracy. However, Guerrero made remarkable changes to support working classes, despite the serious economic limitations. He granted rights for indigenous peoples, fought for both racially and economically oppressed people, and promoted the purchase of Mexican products. His government was clearly dedicated to the people who had many needs after years and years of conflict that left the nation with a predominantly poor class.
On September 16, 1829, to celebrate the anniversary of independence with an act of justice, Guerrero formally abolished slavery in Mexico, except in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the south of the country. This monumental declaration, however, would lead to his downfall. Many people, especially the wealthy class, opposed his populist egalitarian idea, and even members of his administration opposed and betrayed him. More so, Euro-American enslavers, especially in Texas, did not like the idea of losing the economic power they had based on slavery. At the time, Texas was still part of the Republic of Mexico, and Guerrero’s order arrived in Texas October 16, but political chief Ramon Musquiz’ workers rejected it because it violated the colonization laws that secured the settlers properties. Unfortunately, Guerrero’s decree did not make any changes over slavery in Texas. This ultimately became a reason why Texas decided to secede from Mexico and join the United States, which still practiced slavery. After three months of his declaration, Guerrero was driven out of office. His own officials said that he did not possess the intellectual capacities to govern a nation, and he was forced to resign. Guerrero fled to southern Mexico, fearing for his life. However, Anastasio Bustamante, his vice president, ordered his assassination without a legal trial. On February 14, 1831, Gurrerro was found and killed at the age of 39 in Cuilapam, Oaxaca.
The phrase “My Motherland comes first” has proliferated over time and it reminds Mexicans that their independence was not given, it was needed, and their heroes fought for it, for their freedom. The state of Guerrero was named after Vicente Guerrero, and is the only state named after a former Mexican head of state. Guerrero, located in the Costa Chica region, is now home to one of several Afro-Mexican communities in Mexico.
AfromexicanosAfricans left their cultural expressions in Mexico, music, costumes, dances, and food, as well as their genetic imprint in states such as Veracruz, Tabasco, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. Although the race is blurry or difficult to identify thanks to the mixture of races throughout Mexican history, today there are many terms used by black Mexicans to identify themselves such as negro (black), moreno (dark), afrodescendiente, afromexicano, or blaxican, they self-identify as Afro-Mexicans. In 2020, one of the official ethnicity options on Mexico’s census form will be ‘negro’(black), a great achievement by the black community in Mexico for having their African roots recognized. Mexican culture would not be the same today if Africans had not been brought there. Mexico would not be what it is if someone like Vicente Guerrero, a black man, had not fought for his land and his rights, which is why he has been called “Mexico’sgreatest man of color.”
(New York, New York) / This statue, unveiled in 2008, sits in the center of Harlem in New York City, a mecca for black culture in the United States. Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, humanitarian and Union spy during the American Civil War. The 13-foot-high bronze-and-Chinese-granite portrait sculpture was created by sculptor Alison Saar.
(Wellington Harbour, New Zealand) / Ringed with green hills, Wellington Harbour forms the capital’s city centre. Yet, many years ago, before there was a harbour in Wellington, there was a lake. Two taniwha (seamonsters) lived in the lake, until one of them heard waters in the south (the Cook Strait) and decided to reach them, breaking through the rocks into strait. The second taniwha, Whataitai, tried to follow him, but the water was flowing out of the lake, and he was stranded on the shore. His soul left in the form of a bird, Te Keo, which flew above the harbour and wept for his body down below. To this day, Mount Victoria is known to Māori as Tangi Te Keo, ‘The weeping of Te Keo’, and the area on the hills directly below is called Hataitai.
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) / Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2017 as “the most important physical evidence associated with the historic arrival of enslaved Africans on the American continent.”
The Black New Research and Memory Institute (IPN) was created on May 13, 2005, with the mission of researching, studying, investigating and preserving African and Afro-Brazilian material and immaterial heritage, whose conservation and protection is of public interest , with emphasis on the historic and archaeological site of the Cemitério dos Pretos Novos, mainly with the purpose of enhancing the Brazilian cultural memory and identity in Diaspora.
The continued actions of archaeological investigations and research, maintenance of the collection and educational activities carried out by IPN, generate knowledge that promotes reflection on slavery and its consequences for the principles of racial equality in Brazil.
(Paris, France) / This replica of shackles and chains sits at Place du Général Catroux in Paris and is dedicated to Thomas Alexandre Dumas, an Afro-Caribbean army general who was the son of a Haitian slave.
(Ruapehu District, New Zealand) / The beautiful mountainous landscape of the central North Island is intertwined with rivers and dotted with lakes, and is an area of deep cultural and spiritual significance. There are many stories about how that landscape formed and according to Māori belief, mountains were once gods and warriors of great strength. The great mountain, Tongariro was one of seven mountains surrounding Lake Taupo. All the mountains were male, except for Pihanga who was exceptionally beautiful. The other mountains were in love with her and battled each other for her favour. The land erupted with fire, smoke and hot rocks as they fought, the ground trembling beneath them. Eventually, Tongariro emerged the victor, winning Pihanga’s devotion and the right to stand next to her. The defeated mountains were given one night to move away from the couple and at dawn remained in their location forever.
(Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina) / Toni Morrison has said that her acclaimed novel “Beloved,” which features the ghost of a baby killed by her enslaved black mother, came out of the need for a literature to commemorate slaves and their history. “There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath or wall, or park or skyscraper lobby,” Ms. Morrison said in a 1989 magazine interview. “There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road.”
Sullivan’s Island, home to Fort Moultrie, was a point of entry into North America for about 40 percent of the millions of Africans who were enslaved in this country. Carlin Timmons, a park ranger, said that all the estimates were rough, but that historians believe 12 million to 15 million Africans came to the Americas and the Caribbean. Of those 4 to 10 percent were brought to North America.
The bench was secured by the National Park Service, which laid the foundation that included a bronze plaque explaining its significance. It was the first entry in the “Bench by the Road” project, created by the Toni Morrison Society, a nonprofit group of scholars and readers dedicated to examining Ms. Morrison’s work. The society, which was also holding a conference in nearby Charleston, plans in the next five years to call on individuals, corporations and community groups to help them place benches at 10 sites.
The spots under consideration have significance in Ms. Morrison’s novels and in black history. They include Fifth Avenue in Harlem, where the Silent Parade protesting the East St. Louis, Ill., riots was held in 1917 (featured in the novel “Jazz”)and the site of Emmett Till’s 1955 murder in Mississippi, which helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
(Windsor, Ontario, Canada) / The Tower of Freedom memorial in Windsor, Ontario, honors the flight of enslaved African Americans to freedom in Canada. Unveiled in 2001, the memorial depicts the refugees’ arrival into Canada and their overwhelming emotion upon encountering freedom.
(Tuskegee, Alabama) / In 1965 Tuskegee University was declared a National Historic Landmark for the significance of its academic programs, its role in higher education for African-Americans, and its status in United States history. Congress authorized the establishment of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site.
The National Historic Site includes The Oaks, Booker T. Washington’s home and the George Washington Carver Museum. As the landmark designation did not define a limited area, the district is believed to have included the entire Tuskegee University campus at the time.
(Northern Territory, Australia) / The Rock is the quintessential Indigenous sacred site, and the symbolic heart of the Australian continent. The immense sandstone monolith has hosted traditional ceremonies for 10,000 years and Indigenous communities believe ancestral spirits live on at Uluru, which is why it’s disrespectful to climb it. In fact, the government will ban climbing Uluru (formerly known by its English name Ayers Rock) on 26 October 2019, with Anangu landowner Sammy Wilson explaining: “It’s an extremely important place, not a playground or theme park like Disneyland.”
(Rochester, New York) / New York was a major destination for African Americans seeking freedom in the years leading up to the Civil War. This Heritage Trail follows the routes through western New York of thousands of enslaved people who made the journey to freedom. There are many interpretive centers, museums and historic sites along the trail.
(Timbuktu, Mali) / The University of Timbuktu was unlike the modern university in that there was no central organization or formal course of study. Instead, there were several independent schools, each having its own principal instructor. Students chose their teachers, and instruction took place in mosque courtyards or private residences. The primary focus was on study of the Quran and Islamic subjects, but academic subjects were also taught, such as “medicine and surgery, anatomy, botany, evolution, physiology and zoology, astronomy, anthropology, cartography, geodesy, geology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, philosophy, language and linguistics, geography, history, as well as art.” Teachers associated with the Sankore mosque and the mosque itself were especially respected for learning.
(Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, Catalonia, Spain) / Our Lady of Montserrat or the Virgin of Montserrat (Catalan: Mare de Déu de Montserrat) is a Marian title associated with a venerated statue of the Madonna and Child venerated at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery on the Montserrat Mountain in Catalonia, Spain. She is the Patron Saint of Catalonia, an honour she shares with Saint George (Sant Jordi in Catalan). The famed image once bore the inscription ”Nigra Sum Sed Formosa” (Latin: I am Black, but Beautiful).
Pope Leo XIII granted the image a Canonical coronation on 11 September 1881. The image is one of the Black Madonnas of Europe, hence its familiar Catalan name, La Moreneta (“the little dark-skinned one” or “the little dark one”). Believed by some to have been carved in Jerusalem in the early days of the Church, it is more likely a Romanesque sculpture in wood from the late 12th century.
An 18th century polychromed statue of the same image is also displayed in Saint Peter’s basilica, previously stored in the Vatican Museums which was gifted by the President of Brazil, Joao Goulart on the Papal election of Pope Paul VI in 1963. The image has been on display for Papal masses since the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.
(Wereth, Belgium) / The Wereth 11 Memorial in Wereth, Belgium, is dedicated to the 11 black U.S. soldiers who were killed in the hamlet in 1944 and to all black American soldiers who served during World War II.
(Wallace, Louisiana) / Whitney Plantation is the only plantation museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people. Visit Whitney’s memorials and restored buildings to enter the world of a Louisiana sugar plantation and to remember those who built and worked this property. On your walking tour, your guide shows you through slave cabins, a freedmen’s church, detached kitchen and outbuildings, a 1790s owner’s house and memorials built to honor the enslaved.
(Great Barrington, Massachusetts) / This is the site of the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite and W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Democracy and Social Justice and also offers a walking tour of downtown Great Barrington. The site celebrates the life and achievements of the prominent black sociologist, writer, and major civil rights activist.
(Clarksdale, Mississippi) / This museum is located in the building where WROX, a radio station hosted by the famous radio personality Early Wright and catering to an African-American audience, was broadcast. The station remains largely unaltered from the time of its operation.
(Yanga, Veracruz, Mexico) / Yanga Municipality is a municipality located in the southern area of the State of Veracruz, Mexico, about 80 km from the state capital of Xalapa. It was formerly known as San Lorenzo de los Negros (after a colony of cimarrons in the early 17th century) or San Lorenzo de Cerralvo (after a 17th-century Spanish colonial priest). In 1932 it was renamed after Gaspar Yanga, the cimarron leader who in 1609 resisted attack by Spanish forces trying to regain control of the area.
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) / This monument in Rio de Janeiro honors Zumbi dos Palmares, a leader of a maroon society that existed in Brazil in the 17th century. His community of escaped enslaved Afro-Brazilians constantly fought with Portuguese officials and survived for almost 100 years. Since its unveiling in 1986, several Brazilian cities have followed suit and erected statues of Zumbi.