And Florida history is Black history.
From enslaved people in bondage on Florida plantations to free Black business owners, African-Americans have built the state we enjoy today. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, they escaped from slavery to Florida’s bountiful shores, lived and fought alongside the Seminoles, and created culturally unique communities. In the 1900s, they made strides in education, invention, and Civil Rights in Florida. From fighting voter suppression to demanding the right to enjoy Florida’s beautiful beaches, Black history is a testament to the resilience and strength of our state. This month, we’ll explore Black Floridians who are making history today and those who have paved the way for others to succeed. We’ll highlight change-makers in our communities, historical figures who often don’t make it into the history books, and the legacy of racism and discrimination that continues to exist in Florida today. Our land and water have long been protected by African-American advocates, and their stories deserve to be told.
You can learn about Black History at many of Florida’s public parks and trails, including the below resources:
1. Florida’s African-American History Trail via Visit Florida
Florida has more than 40 museums that highlight African-American history in our state, spanning from the 16th century to today. Stops on the African-American History Trail include sites on the Underground Railroad, cemeteries, battlefields and campsites, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, ball parks, prominent neighborhoods, and civil rights sites.
2. FloridaMemory.com via the Florida Department of State
Florida’s State Library and Archives are an excellent place to get lost in history. From old Spanish maps to portraits and stories of Black historical figures, the pictures saved here tell a thousand words.
3. Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network
Organized by the John Gilmore Riley Center Museum in Tallahassee, FAAHPN provides technical and informational resources for preserving Florida’s African-American culture, African Diaspora, and other historic resources. The group has produced the Florida Black Heritage Trail Guide and other statewide publications that promote tourism and economic development.
There is power in learning. Education is important not only for individuals but for the collective electorate. Take time to learn some Black History this month and all year long.