African American History is a Vital Part of the Tallahassee Story

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Tallahassee reflects and 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 museums, boycotts and the only stop in Florida on the National Blues Trail, the capitol city celebrates its history and the impact African Americans have made on the country.

It’s a story of struggle, perseverance and achievement with a legacy that includes art, music, literature, architecture and lasting contributions to Tallahassee and the entire State of Florida. The capital city has a wealth of African American heritage sites, offering a glimpse into the people, places and events that shaped our society.

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 also 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American artifacts in the Southeast including a 500-piece Ethiopian cross collection and more than half a million historical documents.

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. History comes to life at 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 each May 20.

Other notable African American heritage sites include:

For a complete list of African American heritage sites, check

About Visit Tallahassee/Leon County Division of Tourism:
Visit Tallahassee is the official destination marketing organization for Tallahassee-Leon County. Tourism is charged with marketing Tallahassee-Leon County nationally as a premier leisure, business and sports destination through direct sales, advertising, public relations, sports, film and visitor services. In 2017, Tallahassee-Leon County welcomed 2.4 million visitors who contributed $896 million in economic impact and more than 14,000 jobs.

For more information go to or call toll free (800) 628-2688. Engage with Visit Tallahassee on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @VisitTally, #iHeartTally.


Visit Tallahassee


Leon County Division of Tourism Development (Visit Tallahassee)

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