Byways to Explore for Black History Month
February 2, 2024

As we celebrate Black History Month, Scenic America invites you to embark on a journey through the heart of our nation’s history by exploring scenic byways and trails that weave through landscapes steeped in African American heritage. These roads not only offer breathtaking views but also serve as conduits to the stories, struggles, and triumphs of Black communities throughout the United States.

Selma to Montgomery March Byway (Alabama)

The Selma to Montgomery March Byway | Photo by Dennis MacDonald for Shutterstock

Our journey begins in Alabama, tracing the footsteps of those who participated in the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. This byway is a living testament to the Civil Rights Movement, with markers and monuments along the route commemorating the courage of those who marched for voting rights.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway (Maryland)

A replica of the Maryland Steamboat Company building in Denton, MD along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway | Photo by Rosemarie Mosteller for Shutterstock

Venture into the byways of Maryland to follow the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, honoring the iconic figure who led enslaved individuals to freedom. Immerse yourself in the landscapes that Tubman navigated, experiencing the challenges and triumphs of this daring journey to liberation.

Madam C.J. Walker Heritage Trail (Indiana)

A sign outside of the Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis, IN along the Madam CJ Walker Heritage Trail | Photo by Bill Badzo

Head to Indiana to explore the Madam C.J. Walker Heritage Trail, named after the pioneering entrepreneur who became the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. This byway takes you through the places that shaped Walker’s extraordinary life and celebrates her lasting impact on African American business and culture.

Nicodemus National Historic Site (Highway 24 – Kansas)

Nicodemus National Historic Site along Highway 24 in Graham County, KS | Public Domain

Journey west to Kansas and discover the Nicodemus Scenic Byway, where the resilient spirit of African American pioneers comes to life. This historic town, founded by former slaves during the Reconstruction era, offers a glimpse into the challenges and successes of Black settlers on the American frontier.

African American Heritage Trail (Louisiana)

The African American History Trail in St. Martinville, Louisiana | Photo by Ken Lund

Louisiana’s African American Heritage Trail winds through a tapestry of sites significant to Black history, including Civil Rights landmarks and cultural treasures such as St. Martinville, considered the birthplace of Cajun culture in America. Take in the unique blend of history and natural beauty as you travel this byway, reflecting on the impact of African Americans on the region’s rich cultural mosaic.

The Blues Highway (Highway 61 – Mississippi to Louisiana)

A mural of blues music pioneers along Highway 60, Blues Highway, Leland, Mississippi | Photo by Joseph A.

For music enthusiasts and history buffs alike, the Blues Highway, or Highway 61, offers a melodic journey through the birthplace of the blues. Experience the landscapes that inspired legendary African American musicians, connecting with the soulful sounds that echo the triumphs and tribulations of Black America.

As we traverse these scenic byways during Black History Month, let us reflect on the profound impact of African Americans on our nation’s history. Each mile tells a story, and each landmark preserves the legacy of those who shaped our collective journey toward equality, justice, and unity. Scenic America encourages you to not only enjoy the breathtaking vistas along these routes but to also embrace the opportunity to learn, appreciate, and celebrate the invaluable contributions of Black communities across the United States.