Photo Credit: Tiffany Langston
Tiffany Langston Shares Her 10 Favorite Hidden Black Culture Gems In The U.S.
Tiffany Langston’s sense of adventure is hereditary— she gets it from her mother. Originally from South Carolina, she’s visited a whopping forty states, and plans to conquer the other ten within the next few years if possible. She’s done plenty of international trips as well, but values domestic travel, as there are gems to discover right here at home.
“I do think that sometimes people feel like traveling in the US is a consolation prize when you can’t afford to go somewhere abroad,” Tiffany told Travel Noire. “But if you like to drive, road tripping across different regions of the United States can be an inexpensive way to experience so many locations and cultures.”
Tiffany lives in New York with her husband, and they often travel together.
“I’m in my favorite city,” she said, “But if I had to choose a place I never get tired of visiting, it would be Chicago. The food is amazing, there are great museums, and it’s totally different visiting in the summer versus the winter.”
Which are her favorite states? “I would say California, because there is something for everyone— mountains, beaches, deserts, incredible restaurants, and activities for all interests,” she said. “I also really love Maine, because it has one of the most beautiful coastlines.”
Tiffany didn’t realize just how much Black history was omitted from lessons when she was in school, and credits her travels for giving her insight.
“I realize how inadequate Black history education was when I was growing up,” she said. “Now, I feel like I’m filling in the gaps of what I should have learned when I was a kid.”
Check out these ten Black-centered gems she recommends.
1. The Colored Musicians Club- New York
When most people think of New York, they are so fixated on the city, they forget there’s so much to see beyond it.
Check out The Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo, which also functions as a museum. It’s one of the oldest African-American venues of its kind that is still running.
Not only did the club provide a space for Black creatives to showcase their talent, it granted them respite from the racism that was especially virulent in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
According to the website, the club “has added valuable cultural depth to the city of Buffalo, and has greatly enriched the lives of the musicians and the members who have participated throughout its existence.”
Enjoy live music on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
2. African-American Heritage Trail- Louisiana
“The trail,” said Tiffany, “is throughout the state.”
From the slavery era to the birth of Jazz, Louisiana has witnessed both Black struggle and triumph.
According to Louisiana Travel, Congo Square in New Orleans was important during colonial times. It was a meeting point for Black people to “take part in sacred African rituals, and perform traditional songs and dance.” All this created the blueprint for Jazz much later.
There are educational centers such as Tangipahoa African-American Heritage Museum, Black Heritage Gallery, River Road Museum and The Multicultural Center of The South.
Check out other sites here.
3. Black Ensemble Theater- Illinois
This theater in Chicago was founded by Jackie Taylor in 1976. Through performing arts, its aim is to inspire dialogue about racism’s damaging effects, as well as other subjects.
In 2005, Taylor, a playwright herself, went on to establish The Black Playwrights Initiative.
“Chicago has a rich and fertile community of African American Playwrights,” Taylor said. “There was a need for an organization that focused specifically on these artists as it related to their unique cultural heritage.”
4. Scott Joplin House- Missouri
Scott Joplin was an African-American composer who was nicknamed the King of Ragtime. Today, his modest home on Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis is a museum.
If you’re a fan of Ragtime, you’ll be interested to know that Joplin wrote two of his hits at this house, The Entertainer and Easy Winners.
Note that the house is open seasonally.
5. National Memorial for Peace and Justice- Alabama
This memorial in Montgomery opened in 2018. It serves as a sobering reminder of slavery, Jim Crow, and other horrors inflicted on the Black community.
The memorial consists of 800 steel monuments, “one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place.”
6. 100 Men Hall- Mississippi
100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi dates back to 1894 and was founded by 12 Black residents of the city.
It went on to be a performance space for Black artists and a community center. It’s part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
The hall was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina, but was thankfully restored thanks to grants.
7. Black History Museum- Virginia
Tiffany enjoyed the Black History Museum in Richmond, which opened to the public in 1991.
The museum “celebrates the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and their contributions to the country.”
It hopes to educate visitors on Virginia’s dark past in the hopes of sparking a brighter future.
You’ll find photographs, art, textiles and other items.
8. The City of Baltimore- Maryland
Baltimore has been part of our history for generations, and has a sizable Black population today.
The first Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, was born there. Other heavyweights who were shaped by the city include Zora Neale Hurston, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway.
Black leaders, residents and allies based in Baltimore worked tirelessly during The Civil Rights Movement.
9. Emancipation Park- Texas
Houston is home to Emancipation Park, which was purchased by former slaves in 1872. It’s the oldest park in all of Texas.
According to Visit Houston, “it was the only public park and swimming pool in the city open to African-Americans.”
The park has been the site of Juneteenth celebrations for years. In 2021, it launched the #wearejuneteenth campaign to honor the numerous contributions of Black people to Texas.
10. Black Heritage Trail- Boston, Massachusetts
The Black Heritage Trail is a walking tour focused on Black residents of Boston from the 18th and 19th centuries.
According to Boston USA, it’s “the largest collection of historic sites related to life within a free Black community prior to the Civil War.”
During the tour, you’ll see fourteen historic Black churches, businesses, schools and other institutions. You’ll also learn about Boston’s connection to The Underground Railroad.