Black History Month provides an insight into both the struggles and contributions African Americans made to the country. Tallahassee commemorates its African American heritage and culture year-round, from being the first city in Florida to hear a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to boycotts, a battlefield and the only stop in Florida on the National Blues Trail.
The capital city has a wealth of African American heritage sites offering a glimpse into the people, places and events that shaped the black experience in Tallahassee and Florida.
The John G. Riley House & Museum, rated No. 8 on Black Entertainment Television’s list of “Must See African American Places in the U.S.” pays tribute to a former slave turned prominent educator and civic leader. The home is the last visible evidence of Smokey Hollow, an African-American community that once thrived near downtown.
In nearby Cascades Park, three uniquely designed “spirit houses” and a historic marker commemorate the Smokey Hollow community.
Florida A&M University is the oldest historically black university in Florida and home to Black Archives Research Center & Museum, housed in the first Carnegie Library built on a black land-grant college campus. The museum houses one of the most extensive collections of African American artifacts in the Southeast including a 500-piece Ethiopian cross collection and more than a half million historical documents.
The Tallahassee Museum offers a look back into the lives of African Americans through restored historic structures including the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, the state’s first organized black church and the Concord Schoolhouse, established in the 1870s to educate the children of former slaves.
Located downtown on the corner of Monroe and Jefferson Streets, the Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Sidewalk, tells the story of the city’s 1956 bus boycott and the lunch counter sit-in demonstrations of 1960-1963.
Stand on the steps of The Knott House Museum, where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read to Floridians on May 20, 1865. A reenactment of the reading is part of an annual celebration every May 20.
Other notable African American heritage sites include:
- Bradfordville Blues Club, the only stop in Florida on the National Blues Trail
- Battle of Natural Bridge Historic State Park, where two regiments of U.S. Colored Troops among Union forces fought against the Confederates
- Taylor House Museum
For a complete list of African American heritage sites click HERE.