Heading south on King Dr. in Chicago at 35th Street, you’ll notice a shopping center to the left and a host of small businesses, to the right. Just one block up, on the right, is the Ida B. Wells-Barnett House. Designated a National Historic Landmark on May 30, 1974, from 1919 to 1930, Wells and her husband Ferdinand Lee Barnett lived at the home and the average passerby likely has no clue. Each day millions of Americans pass by precious sites and it’s time to examine the treasures right in your own neighborhood.
People in Atlanta know about the Martin Luther King birth home but very likely drive right past South-View Cemetery. Nine former slaves purchased the land in 1866, fed up with mistreatment and segregated graveyards. The site has 100 acres and over 70,000 people are buried there, including prominent musicians, athletes and activists. Martin Luther King Jr. and Benjamin Mays were laid to rest at South-View before being moved to the Martin Luther King Center and Morehouse College, respectively.
1015 Iberville Street in New Orleans is a parking lot today. At one time, however, it was the home of Louis Charles Roudanez, a physician and publisher. He started the The New Orleans Tribune, often credited as the first African American daily newspaper in the United States. Started in 1864, the paper featured articles written in French and English, the first Black bilingual newspaper in the country. “La Tribune” pushed for full citizenship, demanded weekly wages for emancipated slaves and free public education for everyone.
At Telegraph and 29th in Oakland, sits St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. At first glance there’s nothing exceptional about a church being located in Oakland but look a little deeper inside and you’ll find a treasure. There is a dinning room inside the church that holds great historic value. That dining room hosted the first Black Panther Breakfast Program. The breakfast program, in time, helped to push policymakers to introduce similar programs into public schools across the country.
No matter what city you live in, there are literally hundreds of sites that are precious in history. You don’t need to spend a fortune to see historical sites or book reservations, often. Most of these sites are hidden in plain site and with just a little digging, you can find them and see them, without booking a flight.