Exploring Black History

Three RV Destinations to Learn About U.S. Black History
Ben McMillan walking around Fort Pickens

RV travel provides a unique way to explore the rich tapestry of Black history across the United States. From significant landmarks to cultural heritage sites, RV travel facilitates a flexible way to explore America's civil rights journey while fostering a deeper connection and immersive experience with the area where this history took place. 

When we consider camping through the lens of Black history, it becomes a powerful narrative of resilience, connection, and the reclaiming of space. We've been across the country and have visited many places to engage in Black History, but so far, these have been our favorite RV destinations centering on this topic.

1. Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens is located in Pensacola Beach, Florida, along the Gulf Islands National Seashore—the longest stretch of protected seashore in the country and run by the National Park Service. 
A beach with sand and blue skies at Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida.


Built by Black enslaved laborers in the early 1800s at the direction of the United States Army, Fort Pickens eventually became an unofficial destination on the Underground Railroad. The fort, originally established for protection from overseas enemies, later became a Union Fort during the Civil War offering protection and refuge for freedom-seeking African Americans. 

The fort at Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida, captured by Ben and Christina McMillan.

RV Camping Tips

Fort Pickens Campground is within the boundaries of the National Park. With water and electric hookups, clean bathhouses, and an on-site dump station, this campground is ten miles away from civilization giving you the slow-paced beach vacation feel, but close enough to the town of Pensacola for provisions and tourist attractions. Getting to Fort Pickens after passing through the National Park gates is a slow ride, but you won't mind the drive. Both sides of the road are marked by white sandy beaches and emerald waters. 

Final Thoughts on Fort Pickens

Walking from our campsite to take a sunset stroll on the beach, we discussed the ironic timeline of some dark chapters in our Nation's history, which in some part is overshadowed by the resilience and determination of those who later sought freedom from a place their enslaved ancestors built forty years before. 

2. Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street is located in Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma 
Mural art of a baseball player at Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, captured by Ben and Christina McMillan.

Black Wall Street refers to the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was a thriving and affluent African American community in the early 20th century when segregation and Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in many parts of the United States. Black residents here developed a self-sufficient and thriving community. The district was nicknamed "Black Wall Street" due to the economic success and wealth generated by its Black entrepreneurs. Greenwood was home to grocery stores, banks, hotels, theaters, healthcare facilities, and many other businesses. The history of Black Wall Street is marked by economic prosperity, cultural vibrancy, and, unfortunately, the tragic events of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921.  

What Happened?


On May 30, 1921, a young black man was accused of assaulting a young white woman. After his arrest, a violent white mob gathered outside of the courthouse demanding his lynching. In an attempt to protect Greenwood, a group of Black residents also assembled. The situation turned violent and for the next two days, the violent white mobs attacked and destroyed 35 square blocks of the Greenwood District. They looted, and burned businesses, homes, and churches, leaving the community devastated. The once prosperous Black Wall Street was reduced to ashes, hundreds of Black residents were killed, and nearly 10,000 were left homeless. After years of silence about The Tulsa Race Massacre and still rarely mentioned in textbooks, the survivors of the massacre rebuilt their lives and community. By the late 1920s, Greenwood began to recover, although it never fully regained its former glory. 

Places To Visit

Start at Greenwood Rising History Center, click here for a peak inside. It was established to commemorate the history of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre. It serves as an educational resource and memorial, ensuring that the legacy of Black Wall Street is not forgotten. For more info visit www.greenwoodrising.org

Walk down Archer Street, Greenwood Avenue, and Elgin Avenue to marvel at the amazing murals scattered throughout the Greenwood District. Stop at a local restaurant for some of the best bar-b-que you'll ever taste. If time permits, visit the best city park in the nation- Tulsa's Riverfront Park, The Gathering Place. 

RV Camping Tips

If you're just passing through, the Expo Square RV Park is conveniently located in the middle of the city on the state fairgrounds offering full hookups for $50 nightly.  

If you want a more traditional camping experience in a natural setting, we recommend Brush Creek Campground, an Army Corps of Engineers park, or Keystone State Park, both about 15 miles away from downtown Tulsa. Brush Creek is a large park situated on the Arkansas River with a 20-site campground open to the public and can be reserved at www.recreation.gov. With large sites, electric hookups, and scenic beauty, this campground has become one of our all-time favorite camping destinations. 

Ben and Christina McMillan's Jayco Jay Feather travel trailer at Bush Creek Campground near Black Wall Street

Final Thoughts on Black Wall Street

As the campfire flickered under the starlit sky at Brush Creek, we found ourselves inspired by the stories of Black Wall Street and Greenwood Rising. The experience became more than just a camping trip; it became a pilgrimage of understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the strength of a community that, against all odds, continues to rise and rebuild.

3. Trap Pond State Park

Trap Pond State Park, Delaware's first state park, is located in Laurel, Delaware
3. Trap Pond State Park


Established in 1951, Trap Pond is Delaware's first state park. Previous to 1964, a section of the park was a segregated area for anyone of color. Named Jason Beach after the second President of Delaware State University, it is remembered fondly by local Black residents as a safe and welcoming place to swim, picnic, and hold religious events. Though there was never legalized segregation of any Delaware State Park, events took place that suggested otherwise—including publications in magazines and black children being turned away from the whites-only beach for swimming lessons. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an end to segregation at Trap Pond State Park was enforced.

Jason Beach is remembered fondly by local Black residents as a safe and welcoming place to swim, picnic, and hold religious events

RV Tips & Activities

Trap Pond State Park Campground has a natural setting against the lake and under tall pines, with water and electric hookups for RVers. The park is home to the northernmost naturally occurring stand of Baldcypress trees. Our favorite activity at the park was riding bikes on the trails. Don't worry, if you don't have a bike, they rent them out for FREE! We recommend The Bob Trail for biking. Under five miles, flat, mostly paved, and shaded with pretty scenery throughout. The park has playgrounds, a nature center, picnic and pavilion areas, pontoon boat tours, canoe rentals, wagon rides, a disc golf course, athletic fields, birdwatching, and more.   

Final Thoughts On Trap Pond State Park

The outdoors have not always been a welcoming space for Black people. Discriminatory practices and racial segregation limited access to many parks and recreational areas. As little as 60 years ago, there would have been places to turn us away due to segregation. It is heartbreaking to think about, but we didn't have to live it. Learning about past struggles has become so inspiring to us, that we embrace every opportunity to learn about Black History while we travel.  Discovering the history at Trap Pond State Park and Jason Beach reminded us that RV travel allows us to be immersed in the history of the area while simultaneously being immersed in nature and fostering a sense of adventure and self-discovery.

Before embarking on your RV journey, it's advisable to check the accessibility and current status of these destinations, as well as any specific RV camping facilities available in the vicinity. RVing to these Black history destinations allows for a meaningful exploration of the cultural heritage and significant contributions of African Americans throughout history.

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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