From museums and historic homes to interpretive sites and national landmarks, several places in Missouri shine a spotlight on people who struggled for societal change and made lasting contributions in fields ranging from art to science.
While these sites can be a focus of your exploration during Black History Month, you don’t have to wait until February to visit them or to celebrate the accomplishments of the people whose lives they chronicle.
Perhaps most notable in Missouri are the stories of Dred and Harriet Scott, slaves who went to court in an attempt to win their freedom. The Old Courthouse, a prominent landmark in downtown St. Louis, was the site of the first two trials in their case (1847 and 1850), which ultimately made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though they later were freed, the Supreme Court’s decision that Scott and his family were not citizens and did not have standing to sue (which ultimately meant they would remain enslaved) is often cited as one of the events that led to the Civil War. You can learn more about the Scotts and the court case by viewing “The Legacy of Courage: Dred Scott and the Quest for Freedom” display on the courthouse’s first floor.
The Old Courthouse is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes The Gateway Arch, and it is listed on the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom. The Old Courthouse is currently closed for renovation, but is expected to reopen in 2024 with improved accessibility and new exhibits.
The Old Courthouse is just one of many sites to see as you learn more about Missouri’s past before, during and after Black History Month. Make sure to add the following stops to your must-see list, no matter when you visit the Show-Me State: