Black history in Florida goes back hundreds of years. From the time Spanish explorers first arrived, African descendants have helped build the state. To recognize these contributions, the Florida Black Heritage Trail was created by the state’s visitors bureau. Here are some suggestions of places to explore along the Trail to learn more about Florida history and find African American museums in Florida.
The Old Florida exhibit at Tallahassee Museum has the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and the Concord Schoolhouse on the museum’s grounds. This African American museum 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. Once home to Julee Patton, a free Black woman, it’s now a Black history museum.
Originally settled around 1845, Rosewood was a Black town about nine miles east of Cedar Key on the west coast of Florida. In 1923, a white woman accused a Black man of assaulting her. White mobs from Sumner, Gainesville and even parts of Georgia terrorized the town for a week, killing Black people and burning the entire town. 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
Originally this location was a sanctuary awarded to Black fugitive slaves who helped Spain fight the British away from St. Augustine. Eventually the land became the first free Black settlement in North America. Now a Florida State Park,Fort Mose hosts a yearly festival and has a museum, kayaking, picnic areas and bird watching.
The Curtis Museum
A research center studying Black life in Pinellas County, The Curtis Museum is located in Clearwater. In addition to a permanent exhibit, there are 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 a collard greens festival. Located out front of the museum there’s also 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. In addition to rare slave records, the museum has art work, an original Negro Leagues 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 presidents and famous visitors that Bethune worked with.
The Spady Museum
In the former home of a local educator, the Spady Museum is located in Delray Beach. The only African American museum on the Florida Black Heritage Trail in Palm Beach County, it features exhibits, events for Juneteeth and MLK Day, as well as a trolley tour highlighting Black history in Delray.
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