Black history in Florida goes back hundreds of years. From the time Spanish explorers first arrived, African descendants have helped develop the state to what it is. To recognize these contributions, the Florida’s Visitors Bureau created the Florida Black Heritage Trail. Highlighting locations where these events happened, the trail tells the story of Black Floridians. Here’s some suggestions of places to visit from the Florida Black Heritage 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. Helping to give visitors examples of how Black residents worshiped and learned.
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
Home to permanent exhibits, rotating art and events including a collard greens festival. The Woodson is located in the former offices of the St. Petersburg’s Jordan Park Housing. The St. Petersburg street mural to support Black Lives Matter is in front of the Woodson as well. The block is roped off to traffic so people can take pictures. Don’t worry there’s still plenty of street paring a block away. There is also a lot of murals depicting Black life during the area’s hey day on the buildings near the museum.
Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture
Displaying items from Orlando’s Black history, the Wells’ Built Museum is a tribute to Dr. William Monroe Wells. Since many places were closed to Black residents, Dr. Wells created 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 and worked with the NAACP. They also helped many Black Floridians register to vote. On Christmas Day, 1951, a bomb went off under their bedroom. The murderers were never found. Harry and Harriette Moore were the only husband and wife killed for the civil rights movement. 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 Black educator Solomon Spady, the Spady Museum is located in Delray Beach. It’s the only Black history museum of its kind 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.
Are there places on the Florida Black Heritage Trail that you’ve visited you think we should highlight?
Share with us in the comments.