Explore historic sites commemorating Black history in Kansas

Written by:
May 25, 2022
Nationalparks // Wikimedia Commons

Explore historic sites commemorating Black history in Kansas

The legacies of influential Black Americans have not always been acknowledged, so it’s not uncommon that modern-day residents may overlook the historic sites of their own cities.

While some historical Black figures in the U.S. are more well-known than others, there are in fact thousands of people dating back generations to 17th-century slavery who left traces of their visions and impacts all across the country. Whether prominent figures such as Robert Abbott, who founded one of the largest African American newspapers in the country, or more under-the-radar originators such as Obrey Wendell Hamlet, who cultivated unique vacation experiences in the Rocky Mountains, one thing’s for certain: There is far more uncharted Black history in this country than charted.

Stacker identified historic sites commemorating Black history across 47 states, using the National Register of Historic Places. North Dakota, Vermont, Hawaii, and Wyoming did not have Black historic sites listed on the registry. While some states, especially in the South, are home to many sites central to the civil rights movement, Stacker listed the total sites in every state and the names of three historic sites where available. You can visit the full registry of 232 historic sites and explore the Civil Rights Trail to learn about additional locations across the U.S.

Read on to explore and learn about the historic sites celebrating Black history in your state, or read the national story here.

Kansas by the numbers

- Sites commemorating Black history: 22 (3 with state significance, 2 with national significance)
- Nicodemus Historic District; Nicodemus National Historic Site (Nicodemus)
- Constitution Hall-Topeka (Topeka)
- Dunlap Colored Cemetery (Dunlap)

Nicodemus, a small town in Kansas, was founded in 1877 by a small group of Black settlers in search of a life free from oppression in a post-Civil War America. Nicodemus served as a place of refuge and saw a large Black migration from the South to the Midwest. Today, the Nicodemus Historic District still exists, with a majority of the population being African American. Guided tours are available for buildings within the town.

Continue reading to see which sites commemorate Black history in other states in your area.

Colorado

- Sites commemorating Black history: 13 (3 with state significance, 1 with national significance)
- Winks Panorama (Pinecliffe)
- Fort Lyon (Las Animas)
- Ford, Barney L., Building (Denver)

In the early 1920s, entrepreneur Obrey Wendell “Winks” Hamlet decided to open a lodge where the Black middle class could enjoy leisure time and experience the outdoors with their loved ones. Wink’s Lodge, also referred to as Wink's Panorama, soon became a go-to destination for Black travelers and the Black elite such as Lena Horne, Zora Neale Hurston, and Duke Ellington. The lodge held significance as being a rare mountain destination experience during a time of unrest. Hamlet managed the lodge until his death in 1965, and Wink’s Panorama closed soon after.

Missouri

- Sites commemorating Black history: 86 (8 with state significance, 6 with national significance)
- John W. Boone House (Columbia)
- Mutual Musicians' Foundation Building (Kansas City)
- Chuck Berry House (St. Louis)

The Mutual Musicians’ Foundation Building, built in 1904, is a significant cultural asset for Kansas City and the jazz genre of music. In 1917, a group of African American musicians joined together to create the Musicians’ Protective Union, Local No. 627, which would allow them the opportunity to turn their musical passion into full-time careers and secure improved working conditions and contracts. The union was successful and formed the Mutual Musicians Foundation to oversee the building.

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