Preserving Black Pasts: Public Histories of African American Leisure and Recreation

Solicited by the OAH Committee on Public History Endorsed by NPS

Friday, March 31, 2023, 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: African American; National Park Service; Public History and Memory; Sports and Recreation


In 2021, a team of researchers completed work on a national study of the history of African American outdoor recreation for the National Park Service (NPS), which culminated in the publication of a Theme Study, recommendations for new National Historic Landmarks, and an educational website that catalogs and contextualizes Black recreational sites founded during the Jim Crow era. This project built on the work of public historians and conservationists to preserve endangered sites and teach the history of African Americans’ leisure experiences to the public. This round table discussion brings together academic, independent, and NPS historians to describe these recent projects and discuss how the stories of Black recreational sites can enrich public understandings of racial segregation and Black freedom struggles in America’s past and present.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia

Panelist: Malcolm Cammeron, University of Virginia

Panelist: Erin Krutko Devlin, University of Mary Washington

Panelist: Alison Rose Jefferson, Historian and More

Panelist: Deanda Marie Johnson, National Park Service

Panelist: Sara Lamb, Virginia Tech

Panelist: Gramond McPherson, University of Virginia