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HONOR THE CULTURE, SITES AND STORIES OF AFRICAN AMERICANS IN TALLAHASSEE DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH AND BEYOND


John G. Riley Center and Museum

Celebrate the history, culture and strength of the Black community and the crucial role they played in shaping Florida's Capital City. From being the first city in Florida to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to museums, boycotts and the first stop in Florida on the Mississippi Blues Trail, Tallahassee's African-American story weaves an inspiring narrative of struggles and triumphs.  

The spirit of figures such as John G. Riley, the Stephens Sisters and George Proctor live on through the Smokey Hollow Commemoration, John G. Riley Center and Museum and The Grove and their impacts continue to shape the community through the revitalization of black-owned businesses, artwork and activism.   Explore the wealth of sites, experiences and stories, each offering a glimpse into the people, places and events that shaped our society and continue to do so today.

Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU)

Founded in 1887, Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University (FAMU) is one of the largest historically black universities in the nation and is a cornerstone of Tallahassee. Home to one of the largest repositories relating to African American history and culture in the Southeast, the Meek- Eaton Black Archives Research Center & Museumis one of only 10 black archives in the country. Explore the extensive collection of African artifacts and The Kinsey Collection showcasing history dating back to the 17 th century. While taking in the beauty of campus, visit the Eternal Flame, a monument that burns brightly as a symbol of Rattler excellence and the perfect spot to reflect on the history of the university. The latest and greatest addition to campus is a nearly 42-foot long bronze Rattler statue. Proudly ready to strike in front of the new Center for Access and Student Success Building on Wahnish Way, the 1,500-pound rattlesnake officially open to the public in January 2021 and is an ideal spot for an Instagramable moment.

Attractions, Museums + Itineraries

Tallahassee is home to several notable museums and attractions that highlight Black culture in Florida's Capital City. Built in 1890, the John G. Riley Center and Museum was originally the home to local educator and civic leader John Riley and is the last visible evidence of Smokey Hollow, an African-American community that once thrived in downtown. Today, the museum hosts tours and events that share the legacy of African Americans to Florida's history. Visitors to the Tallahassee Museum can experience first-hand the first organized black church in Florida as well as a school for children of former slaves. To help guide visitors through the African-American experiences, the African American Heritage and Black Culture Experience itineraries features these sites and more.

 

Civil Rights and Emancipation

The Capital City has seen many significant steps in the pursuit of civil rights and equality. Stand on the steps of the Knott House where on May 20, 1865, Union Brigadie r General Edward M. McCook read the Emancipation Proclamation publicly for the first time in the State of Florida. A turning point in the struggle for civil rights can be found at the Grove Museum, one of the best preserved homes originally built by enslaved African Americans and later the home of Governor LeRoy Collins. Among the artifacts preserved here, is the pen that was used by Governor Collins to sign the 1964 Civil Rights Act ending segregation in Florida. A short walk down Jefferson Street in the shadows of the Capitol, visitors experience the Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Sidewalk where 16 terrazzo panels recognize the Tallahassee residents and FAMU students who were instrumental in amplifying the national call for Civil Rights through peaceful protests, bus boycotts and sit-ins. The pursuit for equality continues today. As a modern reminder to all who see it, the Black Lives Matter mural at the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Gaines Street stands as an expression of Tallahassee's continued support of diversity and equality in the community.


Frenchtown

Located in the heart of Tallahassee is a community with history and culture stretching back over a hundred years, Frenchtown is a living and breathing monument to the contributions of the African American community. The Soul Voices of Frenchtown guides visitors on the journey of Frenchtown's history in the voices of former and current residents as they tell stories handed down through generations. Learn how Frenchtown took root in the Reconstruction era and how it became the thriving community we know today. Among the landmarks of Frenchtown is the Lewis W. Taylor House that was built in 1894 and serves as a museum of African-American History, culture and civil rights. 

 

Art & Artistry

Black artistry is at the core of the African American experience in Tallahassee. Experience the sounds that make up the spirit of the black community at the Bradfordville Blues Club , where, for over 50 years, legend has it that blues giants like Ray Charles, B. B. King and Chuck Barry played under its roof. The club is celebrated as Florida's first site listed on the historic Mississippi Blues Trail. Experience other forms of art that thrive throughout Tallahassee, through local events and venues such as the Anderson Brickler Gallery a nd Black On Black Rhyme or enjoy a walk through FAMU campus to explore murals and artwork paying homage to the Divine 9 organizations and alumni that made FAMU great.

The Culinary Experience

From southern eats to snowball treats, Black-owned restaurants are an essential part of Tallahassee cuisine and culture. In fact, a stroke of culinary genius is spreading throughout Tallahassee, and it is inspiring a new generation of young, gifted, and black entrepreneurs. Three businesses - Bourne Brilliant, The Chocolate Dandies, and Gurlie's Lemonade have been filling bellies and dominating headlines with their creative approaches to sweet treats and cuisine. Other must stop spots including Olean's (hyperlink) near FAMU, Earley's Kitchen, Hemplade Vegan CafĂ© and Leola's Crab Shack. For a list of other must-try spots, click here.

 

Photo Gallery/Tour

Images of hope, messages of equality, and the voices of community are woven throughout Tallahassee-Leon County. The Black History and Culture Photo Gallery takes visitors on a journey throughout the city to the historical sites core to the black experience in Tallahassee. The photo gallery takes a look back in time at figures such as George Proctor and the Rutgers House, and a look ahead at the revitalization of locations such as the Frenchtown Heritage Hub . Experience where the past meets the present with this closer look at the Black History woven throughout the City.

While this month we take special time to celebrate and honor the rich Black history found in Leon County, these opportunities for engagement and learning are available all year long. For a complete list of African American heritage sites or to view itineraries go to VisitTallahassee.com. For a mobile friendly version of the itineraries, download the Visit Tallahassee app available for iPhone and Android devices.

About The Leon County Division of Tourism/Visit Tallahassee:

The 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 and visitor services. Named as one of Southern Living's top 10 Cities of the South, in 2020, Tallahassee-Leon County welcomed 1.68 million visitors who contributed $766 million in economic impact and accounts for more than 11,943 people employed in our community in the tourism & hospitality industry. For more information, go to VisitTallahassee.com or call toll free (800) 628-2866. Engage with Visit Tallahassee on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram using #iHeartTally and  #Trailahassee .

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