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African American Driving Tour in Cape Girardeau commemorates monuments, places of interest

As part of black history month, a unique event in Cape Girardeau takes an unfiltered look at the community's past.
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 4:48 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - With Black History Month in full swing, events are being hosted focusing on celebrating African Americans and their culture.

Visit Cape’s African American Driving Tour commemorates notable monuments and places of interest across the city.

“Cape Girardeau was a very unpleasant place to live for African Americans,” said Historian Frank Nickell, who has studied Cape Girardeau for more than 70 years.

A former Southeast Missouri State University History professor, he said Cape Girardeau has come a long way with its treatment of African Americans.

“Few people realize, that around the post office and around St. James AME church, is where the city dump was,” he said.

One of the few places blacks were allowed to live.

“African Americans were literally forced into choosing those places to live,” Nickell said.

Which is one of the areas highlighted on VisitCape.com, where you can take a driving tour and learn more about black history across the city.

“It’s African American History Month and folks are always looking for something to enhance their own understanding, I hope, and maybe their children or their parents about where we live.”

Writer and Researcher Denise Lincoln said it’s important for folks to spend time learning about the city.

“There is not a minute of Cape Girardeau history that there wasn’t an African American in it,” Lincoln said.

And you can learn about the place and individuals who contributed to the city by taking the driving tour.

“Locations throughout Cape Girardeau that will take you to some original sites of history. Both the enslavement history of Cape Girardeau, but also the uplift of free people, after freedom came,” she said.

Which Nickell said is a step in the right direction.

“I think we’re doing better now, but it’s still limited. And for some people it’s limited to the tours that we can provide. And that’s not enough,” he continued. “We need more, and we are trying I believe in this community. To teach the history, and the full history. The good and the bad.”

Learn more about the Visit Cape African American Driving Tour at visitcape.com

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