As a state, North Carolina has a rich and diverse cultural history. It is home to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the oldest State University in the United States; the first English child born in American was born in Roanoke in the 1500s; and the first state owned art museum in the country is locate in Raleigh. It is also a state whose history in large part was shaped by its African American population. Politics, literary traditions, and religious practices are only a few areas in which African Americans played significant roles in the community. Coconut Club Vacations reviews a few sites to visit in North Carolina that represent a small slice of a very significant history.
New Bern: The African-American Heritage Walking Tour
This self-guided walking tour offers guests the opportunity to explore historical homes, churches, and businesses who histories reach back to Colonial times. The tour includes the sites of sit-ins that occurred locally after being inspired by the Greensboro Woolworth sit-ins. Information regarding maps for the tour can be found at VisitNewBern.com.
Charlotte: Havey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture celebrates the contribtuions of Africans and African-Americans to American Culture. It seeks to present and preserve the art, history, and culture of African-Americans. The story begins before even setting foot inside as the exterior of the four-story building was created to mimic quilt designs from the Underground Railroad era and woven textile patterns from West African.
The Center is located at 551 South Tryon Street in Charlotte. Information about hours of operation and admission prices can be found at ganttcenter.org.
Tryon: Nina Simone Plaza and John Coltrane Statue
Tryon honors two of the most influential artists of their time with two separate memorials. The Eunice Waymon Nina Simone Memorial Project honors Nina Simone with a bronze statue by artist Zenos Frudakis in the downtown plaza named for the vocalist. Not too far from Ms. Simone’s statue, in the town of High Point, stands a statue of saxophonist John Coltrane. Though he was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, Coltrane spent his formative years in High Point, where they still claim him as a hometown native son.
These sites are but a sample of options open to explore throughout North Carolina. The state library’s website statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ghl/themes/february.html, offers a host of other locations worth visiting.