Commemorate Black History Month this year by visiting places in Tallahassee where the lives of African Americans made indelible marks on Florida and its capital. Special events in February help connect this history to the present.
Visit the home of John G. Riley, a former slave who became a prominent educator and civic leader. Hear an animatronic model of Mr. Riley tell his story.
Trace the Heritage Walk where protesters chose to walk rather than ride segregated city buses.
Imagine African-American voices that once filled Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and Concord Schoolhouse, both with roots in the Civil War, both preserved and open to visitors.
See leg irons used aboard a 17th century slave ship and guns used by Buffalo Soldiers at the Meek-Eaton Black Archives, located on the 130-year-old campus of Florida A&M University. FAMU was established in 1887 and is now the third largest historically black university in the nation, with approximately 10,000 students.
Also on FAMU campus is a monument to its students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson, who sparked the 1956 Tallahassee bus boycott when they were jailed for refusing to yield their seats on a segregated bus. At that time, black passengers were required to stand. The students’ actions helped end segregation on public buses.
Take part in the Harambee Festival (the Swahili word means “let’s pull together”) at Cascades Park on Feb. 28, featuring dancing, drumming, concerts, cultural art, film, poetry, fashion and health demonstrations. Join the party at the historic Bradfordville Blues Club, hosting local and national blues bands in a rustic club where black musicians and mixed-race audiences once defied segregation and danced to the same beat-- as they do today.
Other special events include:
Feb. 7 – Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Comes to Life: A First-Person Presentation by Ersula Knox Odom. The program depicts Dr. Bethune – founder of Bethune-Cookman University, New Deal government official, and president of the National Association of Colored Women. She is admired for overcoming obstacles to advance education for African American children and young adults. Guests are invited to join the discussion. FAMU College of Pharmacy, 1415 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Feb. 12 -- African American Read-In at the Leon County LeRoy Collins Main Library, celebrating history and culture through literature, including poems, plays and children’s stories by African American authors. 200 W. Park Ave.
Feb. 14 – Poetry in the Jazz Age, featuring live jazz and a portrayal of poet Langston Hughes. Knott House Museum, 301 E. Park Ave.
Feb. 17 -- John G. Riley Center/Museum “Applause for the Pioneers: Cufflinks & Pearls Gala,” honoring the legacy of black-owned businesses in Tallahassee. Goodwood Museum and Gardens, 1600 Miccosukee Road
To learn more about African American heritage sites in Tallahassee, click HERE.