Black history in Florida goes back hundreds of years. From the time Spanish explorers first arrived, African descendants have helped develop the state. To recognize these contributions, the Florida Black Heritage Trail was created by the state’s visitors bureau. Here’s some suggestions of places to explore along the Trail.
The Old Florida exhibit at Tallahassee Museum hosts structures from the past. The Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and the Concord Schoolhouse are both on the museum’s grounds. These structures help visitors understand how Black Floridians lived during those times.
Julee Cottage Museum
The last example of “to the sidewalk” construction in Pensacola, the Julee Cottee Museum is an example of Creole building. It was once home to Julee Patton. A free Black woman, she purchased freedom of enslaved people. The home is a now a Black history museum.
Originally settled around 1845, Rosewood was a Black town about nine miles east of Cedar Key. In 1923, a white woman accused a Black man of assaulting her in her home. White mobs from Sumner, Gainesville and even parts of Georgia terrorized the town for a week, killing Black people and burning the entire town to the ground. Some residents escaped by hiding in the woods. A marker on State Road 24 is located where the town once was (it was never rebuilt).
Fort Mose State Park
It was originally a sanctuary awarded to Black fugitive slaves who helped Spain fight the British away from St. Augustine. The land became the first free Black settlement in North America. Fort Mose is now a Florida State Park. A festival is held every year to reenact the fight that took place. There’s also a museum, kayaking, picnic areas and the opportunity for bird watching.
The Curtis Museum
A research center studying Black life in Pinellas County, The Curtis Museum is located in Clearwater. The museum features a permanent exhibit, traveling exhibits and archives for study.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
Located in the former offices of St. Petersburg’s Jordan Park Housing Development, The Woodson is home to exhibits, rotating art and the local collard greens festival. Located out front of the museum is the city’s street mural that supports Black Lives Matter.
Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture
The Wells’ Built Museum is a tribute to Dr. William Monroe Wells, who developed venues and hotels in the Parramore neighborhood. Today the museums displays slave records, art work, an original Negro League jersey and furniture from the 1930’s.
Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Center
Civil rights leaders in Brevard County, Harry and Harriette Moore were teachers in the area and worked with the NAACP to register African-Americans to vote. On Christmas Day, 1951, a bomb went off under their bedroom, murdering them both. The Cultural Center features a replica of their home in Mims in the exact location of the original house. There is also a museum that tells the Moore’s story, special exhibits and events.
Mary McLeod Bethune House
Located on the campus of the college she founded, the Mary McLeod Bethune House is rich with history. A National Historic Landmark, the home contains original furnishings and papers from Bethune’s achieves. There are also photographs of the presidents and famous visitors that Bethune worked with.
The Spady Museum
Housed in the former home of educator Solomon Spady, the Spady Museum is located in Delray Beach. It’s the only history museum on the Florida Black Heritage Trail in Palm Beach County. The museum features exhibits, events for Juneteeth and MLK Day. They also have a trolley tour highlighting Black history in Delray.
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