The St. Louis region is abundant with history and culture. In February, the rich heritage of the African American community is celebrated in a variety of ways at venues around the area.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
The Old Court House
11 N. 4th St.
St. Louis, MO 63102
No commemoration of African American history in St. Louis would be complete without honoring the famous trial of Dred Scott, as he sued for his freedom from slavery. The Dred Scott trial changed the course of history for African Americans in 1846, and became the vehicle that sparked bitterness across the country, as the Supreme Court responded by upholding slavery as the law of the land. Rich in its own history, the Old Court House has been the site of rallies, protests, speeches and several historically significant trials; one of the most historic, the Dred Scott case. Trial reenactments take place daily.
The Griot Museum of Black History
2505 St. Louis Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63106
In 1997, The Griot Museum of Black History opened as the country’s second museum of its kind. The museum took its name after what is known in some African countries as the collector of treasured cultural objects and traditions. This name accurately portrays the mission of collecting, preserving and sharing history, stories and the culture of the African American community. Exhibits include wax figures of historically famous black Americans, such as Dred and Harriet Scott, Miles Davis and Martin Luther King Jr. An authentic slave cabin and a scale model of a slave transport ship are also among items on exhibit.
Scott Joplin House State Historic Site
2658 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63103
The genius and talents of Scott Joplin have been celebrated by Americans for generations. St. Louis has the fortune of being the home to the musical artist during the time he created his musical masterpieces in 1902. The flat that Joplin and his wife lived in reflected the modest life they led before he climbed to prominence in the music world. Placed on the national register in 1976, his residence is furnished and outfitted in authentic period pieces and is gas lit, as was common in the era. The music room also houses an operating player piano, which enables visitors to the home the opportunity to enjoy the ragtime era music of Joplin.
The St. Louis Walk of Fame
6000-6600 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130
While touring the city and absorbing the historical contributions of St. Louis’ African American legends, stop by the Delmar Loop and visit the St. Louis Walk of Fame, where they are immortalized forever. The bronze stars, containing brief bios of famous St. Louisans, are indelibly set into the sidewalk of one of the area’s most popular and centrally located neighborhoods. Immortalized in the walk of fame are such famous African Americans as Josephine Baker, Maya Angelou, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tina Turner and many more. There is no charge to enjoy the walk of fame and it is open to the public year round.
The Vaughn Cultural Center
3701 Grandel Square
St. Louis, MO 63108
African American art, culture and history are celebrated and shared with all at The Vaughn Cultural Center. The center offers various programs, concerts, storytelling, exhibits, book signings and live performances to promote and educate on the legends and contributions of historical African Americans. It prides itself on being a local venue for these activities as well, and offers other events such as art exhibits and art classes for children. The Vaughn Cultural Center is sponsored by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Lisa Payne-Naeger, a native of the St. Louis area, is a freelance writer, blogger, political activist and a homeschooling mother of two children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.