African American History Month Comes Alive in Downtown St. Louis
African American History Month is upon us and the Gateway Arch National Park and Old Courthouse museum exhibits offer opportunities to reflect on heroes who led African Americans’ fight for civil rights.
A visit to the Old Courthouse offers a glimpse of the vast cupula, iron-clad stairwells and courtrooms where Dred Scott fought for his freedom in 1847 and 1850, and later where Virginia Minor fought for a woman’s right to vote in the 1870s.
Take in this transformative history by viewing the film “Legacy of Courage: Dred Scott & the Quest for Freedom,” (available in the Dred Scott exhibit gallery, located on the lower level of the courthouse, each day at no cost) and tours of the Old Courthouse can be scheduled for a minimum of 6 people. Call 877-982-1410 to arrange a free ranger-led tour.
A few specific opportunities this month:
See history come to life at the Elizabeth Keckley Living History Performance on Friday, Feb. 7 at 10:15 a.m. on the mezzanine inside the Gateway Arch Visitor Center. Marlene Rivero will interpret the story of Elizabeth Keckley, an enslaved African American woman who worked as a seamstress and bought her freedom in St. Louis. She eventually became the friend and personal seamstress to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. This performance highlights Keckley’s quest for her freedom – and ultimately, the freedom for all African Americans – through her acts of compassion.
Lynne Jackson, direct descendant of Dred and Harriet Scott will lead the African American Women’s Suffrage presentation on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. in the Education Classroom as the Gateway Arch (located on the lower level of the Arch Visitor Center). Jackson will present the history of civil rights and African American women’s suffrage. Visitors will learn how history connects with current times and how women and African Americans fought for their freedom and the right to vote.
While you are at the Arch, be sure to take a tram ride to the top to see the unique view of the Old Courthouse and absorb the incredible perspective of the St. Louis skyline. Tickets for the tram rides can sell out, so be sure to purchase in advance online.