Park Service and African American History

Nicodemus School HouseThere have been some cool events this week in the National Park Service that are tied to the conclusion of Black History Month.

The first cool event: The newest NPS park unit unveiled. The Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site was officially introduced yesterday in Washington D.C. The site is historically significant because it was here that Woodson created the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). It was also in this home in 1926 that the roots of what would become Black History Month also took shape. In 2001 the NPS bought the historic landmark for $500,000. Park Director Mainella speaking at the ceremony said that the home "is the latest of 73 sites in the National Park System that relate to the culture and heritage of African Americans, and their contributions to America's rich and diverse history."

The second cool event: Days earlier, Director Mainella was in Kansas to draw national attention to the Nicodemus National Historic Site. As described on the NPS website, Nicodemus "is the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. The town of Nicodemus is symbolic of the pioneer spirit of African-Americans who dared to leave the only region they had been familiar with to seek personal freedom and the opportunity to develop their talents and capabilities." The town still operates today, although there are now fewer than 30 residents.

The third cool event: Through his power of public proclamation granted with the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Bush yesterday established an "African Burial Ground National Monument " to be built in New York City. The proclamation describes the area as historically significant because "from the 1690s to the 1790s, the African Burial Ground served as the final resting place of enslaved and free Africans in New York City, New York. It contains the remains of those interred, as well as the archeological resources and artifacts associated with their burials." A memorial has already been designed, and should be constructed sometime soon on the 15,000 square foot lot.

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