Top 6 African American Heritage Sites in and around Annapolis

March 5, 2024

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park is a nationally-significant attraction in nearby Dorchester County, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture has welcomed millions of visitors since opening in September of 2016! Interest in our country’s African American legacy is greater than ever, and once you’ve been to Cambridge or Washington, DC there’s still more to see and learn!

If you’re looking for local stories and experiences, make sure to check out some of the heritage sites that feature our African American stories (listed by distance from City Dock in downtown Annapolis). Of course, every historic site includes African American heritage! Click on the name of each site listed below for location, hours, and more!

Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial

Annapolis City Dock

This site memorializes the contributions of Alex Haley, author of Roots. At the Harbour, Haley’s ancestor, Kunta Kinte, allegedly arrived aboard the Lord Ligonier and was sold into slavery in 1767. Here, 48 slave ships unloaded their human cargo in the 20 years before the American Revolution. The memorial includes a sculptural grouping depicting Alex Haley, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Roots, speaking to children about Kunta Kinte.

Museum of Historic Annapolis

99 Main Street, Annapolis

Visit the Museum of Historic Annapolis and explore three floors of exhibitions and stories in our historic building at 99 Main Street. Annapolis: An American Story is a terrific first stop where you can begin your discovery of Annapolis and nearby places. Annapolis: An American Story shares dramatic stories of Annapolis and its diverse people – revolutionaries, visionaries, and champions in our nation’s continuing quest for liberty and justice – who helped to shape our American story across more than 400 years. This chronological overview of the history of Annapolis includes an inspiring film, colorful exhibits, and an amazing collection of objects. The city’s African American heritage is a continual thread throughout the exhibit, and the crucial stories of the Civil Rights era in Annapolis are a focus of a gallery on the upper floor. After visiting the Museum. you can enhance your experience and learn even more at our 10 partner sites, all located within a short walk from the museum. There is so much to see and do – you will want to return again and again to experience it all.

Banneker-Douglass Museum

84 Franklin Street, Annapolis

Soon to be renamed the Banneker-Douglass-Tubman Museum, this museum is the official state repository for African-American cultural materials, and named for famous Marylanders: Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Inside, you’ll find permanent exhibits highlighting the lives of slaves in Maryland, important Maryland turning points in the Civil Rights Movement, and highlights of important African-American Marylanders like Matthew Henson, credited with discovering the North Pole with Admiral Robert Perry in 1909.

Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center

1101 Smithville Street, Annapolis

The Legacy Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of Wiley H. Bates High School, formerly (1932 to 1966) the only high school for African Americans in Anne Arundel County.  It is a unique cultural arts heritage center displaying historical documents and collections that preserve the African American experience.

Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center

3200 Wayman Avenue, Highland Beach

The Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center, housed in “Twin Oaks”, the summer cottage built in 1895 for Frederick Douglass, was purchased and restored in the early 1980’s. Its mission is to promote a greater understanding of the life and work of Frederick Douglass and his family; to identify, document, and preserve the social and cultural histories of Highland Beach and Venice Beach; and to make these resources available for information and research. The Museum is limiting visitors, but their website has numerous resources to learn more.

Historic London Town and Gardens

839 Londontown Road, Edgewater

This “lost town” was a major port of call in the 1730s for ships taking tobacco to Britain and bringing African slaves, indentured workers, and convicts to Maryland. The town’s most prominent figure, James Dick, imported slaves on a large scale and put them to work in his ropewalk and other businesses. Restored as a National Historic Landmark, the mansion, gardens, and newly recreated buildings are a wonderful example of Anne Arundel County’s initiative to preserve the area’s African-American History.