Where to Explore African American Heritage And History in Georgia

Hon. Jefferson F. Long was Georgia's first Congressman of African descent. He served during the Reconstruction period, before Jim Crow laws were established.
Hon. Jefferson F. Long was Georgia's first Congressman of African descent. He served during the Reconstruction period, before Jim Crow laws were established. | Source

A Rich Heritage

Georgia, like much of the United States, is filled with the stories of people who make up the great fabric we call our country. Many of these stories include people of color: Native American, African American, Hispanic American and Asian American. This piece endeavors to scratch the surface of a deep and dynamic cultural mélange of Africans (and their descendants) who found themselves located right here in Georgia. If you are doing research, or if you simply enjoy learning about this topic, take time to visit one, two--or all--of the sites below.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Birth Home in Atlanta

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of Georgia's most famous native sons. Although we have many dignitaries with roots in the peach state, MLK holds a special place in so many hearts. Atlanta's Auburn Ave. was his home from childhood to adulthood, and it is also the site of his final resting place. Dr, King, along with his wife Coretta Scott King, strategized and mobilized here; they built community here, and they sought to raise their family here. Today, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, as well as the National Historic Site and the King Memorial Center stand on this street. All have complementary admission. You must visit this site if you are visiting or living in Georgia.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr  is speaking to the public.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is speaking to the public. | Source

Quick Facts About the MLK Center

Location: 449 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Phone: 404-526-8900

Hours:

  • 9 AM - 5 PM Every Day;
  • Summer Hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day are 9 AM-6 PM;
  • Ranger led tours of MLK Jr.'s birth home are conducted daily from 9 AM - 4 PM
  • Fire Station Number 6 is staffed by volunteers from 9 AM - 5 PM

Admission Prices: Free

A Map of the King Center & National Historic Site

A marker450 Auburn Ave. Atlanta GA 30312 -
450 Auburn Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30312, USA
[get directions]

Visit the birth home and final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights

There's an old saying: If we don't understand and learn from the mistakes of our past, we are destined to repeat them. History is often a window to what the future could look like if we allow the same humanistic attitudes to operate unchecked.

While this museum is a fairly new venue to the Atlanta cultural scene, it has the enormous undertaking of linking the American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century to the Global Human Rights Movements of today. The exhibits, media, and interactive features in each of the three galleries, seek to inspire visitors to value each human life and the liberties we each deserve.

This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c33090.
This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c33090.

Information About the Civil Rights Center

Location: 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd, Atlanta, Georgia 30313

Phone: (678) 999-8990

Hours (Summer):

  • Monday- Thursday 10 AM- 5PM (Last Admission is 4:00 PM)
  • Friday-Sunday 10 AM- 6 PM ( Last Admission is 5:00)
  • Note: Summer Hours begin June 1st and go through August 8th. Normal hours are 10 AM-5 PM daily.

Admission Prices:

  • Adult $15
  • Senior, Student, Educator $13
  • Child (ages 3–12) $10
  • 2 and under FREE
  • There are substantial discounts for active military personnel and their families. Inquire to obtain these great rates.

Map to the Civil and Human Rights Center

A marker100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd, Atlanta, Georgia 30313 -
100 Ivan Allen Junior Boulevard Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
[get directions]

The Center for Civil & Human Rights is located near the World of Coca-Cola. Convenient parking is located adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola site.

The Herndon Home Museum

Alonzo Herndon was a former Georgia slave, who by providence and intellect, amassed a huge fortune by establishing his own businesses--first a number of barbershops, then many successful real estate ventures and later the Atlanta Life Insurance Company. His story is truly a rags to riches phenomenon.

Not one to let this harsh fact deter him, Herndon pressed on and became Atlanta's first Black millionaire.

His home stands today as a memorial to the contributions he made to Atlanta and throughout the south. Visitors will be inspired to see what faith, hard work and determination can do in the face of extreme adversity.

Important Information About the Herndon Home

Location: 587 University Pl NW, Atlanta, GA 30314

Phone: (404) 581-9813

Hours:

  • Tuesday and Thursday 10 AM-4 PM;
  • Any other day, you must call ahead to schedule the tour if you have group of 15 or more
  • Closed Sundays

Admission Prices:

  • $7 Adults
  • $5 Students, Seniors, Active Military

A Map to The Herndon Home

A marker587 University Pl NW, Atlanta, GA 30314 -
587 University Place Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30314, USA
[get directions]

The home of Atlanta's first millionaire of color, Alonzo Herndon, is open to public viewing on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week.

Atlanta University Center

Located in the historic West End district of Atlanta, the Atlanta University Center is comprised of five schools Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Each school has a history and tradition of it's own, yet they come together to form a cohesive picture of college life for African-Americans in Atlanta from the late 19th century to the present.

While you are there, you can visit one of the art galleries on Spelman's or Clark's campuses, enjoy a sporting or performing arts event or take a campus tour. It's a great way to get your young ones motivated about the future by taking a look at the past.


Henry McNeil Turner

This man was one of the first African American Chaplains for the Union Army during the Civil War. The AUC's Turner Theological Seminary is named after him.
This man was one of the first African American Chaplains for the Union Army during the Civil War. The AUC's Turner Theological Seminary is named after him. | Source

Quick Facts About the AUC

Location: 156 Mildred Street, Atlanta, GA 30314

Phone: 404-523-5148

Hours & Admission Prices: Truly depend upon what you hope to achieve with your visit. There are many free opportunities, like campus tours for prospective students and their families. However, many sporting and performing arts events will come with a price tag.

Some specific sites you don't want to miss are the art galleries on Spelman College and Clark Atlanta's campuses.

Map to the Atlanta University Center

A marker156 Mildred Street, Atlanta, GA 30314 -
Clark Atlanta University, 156 Mildred Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30314, USA
[get directions]

This is the place to start if you want more information on the Atlanta University Center Consortium and it's contribution to African American history.

The Tubman Museum

If you have been to this museum before, it's time to take another look! They just held the grand opening for their new venue on Cherry St on May 15th, 2015.

From the outside, you know that you are in for a treat. The striking architecture of the new building reminds us that regal blood isn't only about lineage or birth, it's also about what you do with the life God has given you.

Harriet Tubman, not only chose to save herself, but also many other people caught by the perils of slavery. It is fitting that this museum which bears her name, is dedicated to Pan African experiences from local leaders and icons to the direct impact of Africa, the Caribbean and coastal cultures on black Americans.

It's a delight for the eyes, mind and spirit.


Source

Important Facts About the Tubman Museum

Location: 310 Cherry St, Macon, GA 31201

Phone: ‪(478) 743-8544‬

Hours:

  • Tuesday - Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Saturday 11:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday Closed
  • Monday Closed Except for special tours

Admission Prices:

  • $8.00 for Adults
  • $6.00 for Senior Citizens
  • $5.00 for Military with ID
  • $4.00 for Children 3-17
  • $5.00 for College Students with ID
  • Free for children under 2

Note : The Museum also offers membership which enables patrons to have unlimited entry at no extra charge.

A Map to The Tubman Museum

A markerThe New Tubman Museum Site -
310 Cherry Street, Macon, GA 31201, USA
[get directions]

Although named after one of the most famous leaders in African American History, the Tubman Museum explores Pan-African history as well.

The APEX Museum

APEX stands for the African American Panoramic Experience and it has been a fixture in Atlanta for a little over thirty years. While I must admit that this is a small museum, a lot of detailed information is packed in the space. There are also a few well-narrated films and interactive features for a variety of tastes and learning styles.

Some images and exhibits may be shocking for smaller children, but older children a teens will be able to get a fair sense of what life was like for early African Americans and their descendants.

When you go, plan to spend two to three hours taking every thing in. You will not want to rush your visit by coming after three or four in the afternoon.


Other Notable Sites

There is so much Black History in Georgia, I can not possibly contain it in one article. Here are a few other sites for you to consider.

  • Dorchester Academy in Midway, GA
  • Omenala-Griot Afrocentric Teaching Museum
  • Archibald Smith Plantation in Roswell, GA
  • Auburn Ave. Research Library in Atlanta
  • Paine College in Augusta, GA
  • Hammonds House Art Museum

Facts About the Apex Museum

Location: 135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Phone: (404) 523-2739

Hours:

  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday Closed

Admission Prices:

  • Adults $6
  • Students & Seniors $5
  • Children under 4 FREE
  • Group rates and memberships are also available


A Map to the Apex Museum

A marker135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 -
135 Auburn Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
[get directions]

The Apex Museum has been a fixture of African American heritage in Atlanta for over thirty five years.

Civil Rights History Being Made

Five leaders of the SCLC, CORE and NAACP: Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, William Fitz Ryan, James Farmer, and John Lewis
Five leaders of the SCLC, CORE and NAACP: Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, William Fitz Ryan, James Farmer, and John Lewis | Source

Albany Civil Rights Institute

Albany, GA is the home of Albany State University, which was Georgia's first and only government sponsored institution of higher learning specially designated for African Americans. As such, the city was ripe for civil rights demonstrations during the 1950s and 1960s when Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) determined to gain equal rights and liberties for all of the citizens in this dynamic college town.

The Albany Civil Rights Institute endeavors to shed light on this turbulent yet triumphant time in our nation's past. While Albany was a central piece in the movement, the Institute covers a broader spectrum as well. From the Freedom Riders to the Southern wide boycotts, this venue will leave you with a greater appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication that went into changing the landscape of opportunities for many African-American citizens.

Information About the Albany Civil Rights Institute

Location: 326 Whitney Ave. Albany GA 31701

Phone: (229) 432-1698

Hours:

  • Tuesday- Saturday: 10 AM- 4 PM
  • Sunday, Monday: Closed, w/ the Exception of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Admission Prices:

  • Adults: $6
  • Students: 5th-12th- $5
  • Students: K-4th-- $3
  • Preschool: $2
  • Active Military, Seniors & College ID: $5
  • Under 4 w/ guardian: Free


A Map to the Institute

A marker326 Whitney Ave. Albany GA 31701 -
326 West Whitney Avenue, Albany, GA 31701, USA
[get directions]

Get directions to the Civil Rights Movement Institute in Albany, GA

Morgan County African-American Museum Inc

What a refreshing surprise awaits true African American history buffs! This museum is located off the beaten path, but it is well worth an engaging trip to the county. While you may not be able to spend your whole day here, there are other cultural arts venues in Madison that will make a worthwhile day trip.


Quick Facts for Morgan County African-American Museum

Location: 156 Academy Street
Madison, GA 30650

Phone: 706-342-9191

Hours:

  • Tuesday – Friday: 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Saturday: 12 PM – 4 PM
  • Sunday, Monday: Closed

Admission Prices:

  • $5 Adults;
  • $3 Students,
  • $2.50 Senior Citizens

Get Your Directions to the Museum

A markerMorgan County African American Museum, INC -
156 Academy Street, Madison, GA 30650, USA
[get directions]

I hope that you and your family will have the opportunity to visit each one of these places. Georgia has so much to offer regarding Black History and history in general. It would be a shame to ignore it. So much of what we know about the people who came before us shapes who we (and our children) are today.

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Comments 4 comments

Jane Err profile image

Jane Err 18 months ago from Texas

Africans built this country. It is time some restitution is made for all the wages they didn't receive.


keishialeelouis profile image

keishialeelouis 18 months ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thank you Jane Err for your insightful reply. While I do think your heart is in the right place, I don't think there is a simple answer for the restitution of those Africans who were cheated of their livelihood and in many cases their families, their culture, their language and their dignity. How could someone put a price tag on that?

The mottled stories, we call history in this country are quite intricate. A lot of us look at history with broad strokes like an impressionist painting-- when, in fact history is more like a pointillist painting--individual dots that make up a larger picture.

Some individuals did receive wages for their work-although in many instances--they were meager. These Africans/ Black Americans were able to purchase freedom, before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some people of African descent received inheritances from their master/fathers. Some Africans (and their children) were free from the Revolutionary period onward--even in the South. Augusta, GA had a community of free blacks prior to the Civil War.

It's very hard to give people something they deserve after they die, and there is no real way of knowing which of their descendants are still living. Additionally, the estates of many slaveholders went bankrupt during the Civil War. So now who would pay? The government? They already tried with the Freedmen's programs--unsuccessfully--or successfully-- depending upon who you talk to.

Although there were challenges, many colleges and universities, sprung up because of these Freedmen's programs. Many people were able to buy land. Many people were able to start businesses.

I know a few of my ancestors benefited from these programs because I found their names on the rosters. That makes me feel good.

However, I'm aware that this does not erase poverty or struggle for many people of color.

Finally, today the descendants of actually disenfranchised Africans-- those slaves who never received a dime of help-- would be so numerous, and inflation is so high, that there is no hope of true monetary recompense.


Jane Err profile image

Jane Err 18 months ago from Texas

Your comment is beautifully stated. You should write a book.....I wasn't aware of the many programs you mentioned in this response but I am glad you did even though it won't erase the guilt of this country for the suffering it imposed on not only African Americans but also American Indians too.

If I felt the past was in the past it would feel less burdensome but there is still a long road ahead to fix the problems racism has caused in a country that claims "democracy" and "freedom"... when Lady Liberty is so shortsighted when it comes to equality under the law. Until that is fixed, then we are not a democracy nor do we have freedom for everyone.

You are an eloquent writer....your intelligence shines through like Lady Liberty's flame. Please continue to educated those of us who see only the sketch and not the whole picture.


keishialeelouis profile image

keishialeelouis 18 months ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thank you, Jane. You are absolutely right. We can't undo the past. We can only help to make the future better in the way we treat the individuals who God sends our way. I'm glad to have the opportunity to chat with you.

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