Bike Bike Baby tour in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @visitaugusta
5 Georgia Destinations to Experience Black History
Whether you’re exploring Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn District or Gullah Geechee heritage on the coast, eating at one of the many Black-owned restaurants across the state, or uncovering the monumental contributions made by Black community leaders to the civil rights movement, you’ll discover that Georgia’s Black history is a story that isn’t relegated to the past; it’s every day in the making. Venture to these cities to experience the legacy and evolution of Black history in the state.
Rooted in the history of Atlanta, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights connects the American civil rights movement to today's ongoing movement for justice and equality. Explore the four immersive exhibit spaces, including the Voice to the Voiceless: Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, where visitors can view the personal papers and items of Dr. King.
Zip through the city on a segway with ATL Cruzer Electric Car & Segway Tours to discover some of the historic neighborhoods and districts like Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward. Make a point to stop by Sweet Stack Creamery for a treat that puts the “sweet” in Sweet Auburn.
Satisfy your cravings for Southern cuisine at one of Atlanta’s staples, Paschal's Restaurant. Once the meeting place for some of the most notable activists, entertainers, and politicians – including Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Vice President Al Gore, and Dr. Martin Luther King – the restaurant is a must for those looking for history and the perfect fried chicken.
When in Athens, you have to catch a show, or two. The city is known for its one-of-a-kind music scene, boasting legendary venues like 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre.
Another lesser-known (yet just as iconic) live performance venue nestled in the heart of downtown is the Morton Theatre. Built, owned, and operated by a Black businessman by the name of Pink Morton, it’s one of the few remaining vaudeville theatres and holds a legacy of hosting music heavy hitters like Duke Ellington, Ma Rainey, and Cab Calloway. Today, the theatre has been restored and adapted as a performing arts space where you can catch a variety of live performances from concerts to plays and everything in between.
Make your way to Creature Comforts, just up the street, and “get comfortable” with a craft beer before heading to Weaver D’s for a soulful Southern meal. Be sure to try the squash casserole, which was given the blessing of Athens’ own, R.E.M. In fact, the band used the restaurant's slogan "Automatic for the People" as the name of their 1992 hit album.
Take a ride through downtown Augusta and absorb the rich history of the place James Brown once called home. Hop on a Bike Bike Baby to take a Black History tour that visits the home of the wealthiest Black woman in Augusta, the African American cemetery, and historic Black churches and congregations, all on bike.
Follow the legacy of the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, at The Augusta Museum of History. The signature exhibit, The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown, features interactive kiosks showcasing Brown’s classic dance moves and all-time hits, performance attire, family photographs and more.
After working up an appetite, stay close to downtown for a meal at The Brunch House of Augusta, which specializes in homemade Southern breakfast dishes.
Start your day with decadent pastries from Back in the Day Bakery located in the Starland District of Savannah. The curated menu consists of specialty biscuits, jams, pies, sandwiches and more that embody Southern baking and owner Cheryl Day's African American heritage. Swing by and see why the biscones are a crowd favorite.
To see the city, put on your walking shoes for the Footprints of Savannah tour, which gives a genuine recount of Savannah’s Black history. Later, venture just outside of Savannah to Pin Point Heritage Museum. The museum, located in a former Crab & Oyster factory, offers an authentic look into Gullah Geechee culture with guided tours from residents who grew up in the community.
Make reservations for The Grey, and dine-in at the most praised restaurant in the city that is set in a beautifully renovated 1940’s era Greyhound bus station. James Beard Award-winning Chef Mashama Bailey puts a contemporary spin on Southern classics. Some menu must-trys include the fried chicken and hoe cakes, duck pastrami, and seasonal fruit cobblers.
While St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island is a popular destination for bird and dolphin watching, it also holds a salient history as the first public beach in Georgia to welcome African Americans.
Once a summer mecca for Black performers (and Georgia natives) such as Otis Redding and Millie Jackson, St. Andrews Beach served as the former grounds of the historic Dolphin Club and Motor Hotel. Join the Dolphin Club Days tour to unearth stories about the former summer hot spot. Or, visit Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum for a detailed history about the island’s little-known Black history.
Escape to the beach and take a stroll through The Wanderer Memory Trail. The trail features installations that acknowledge the history of the Wanderer’s landing at St. Andrews Beach Park and has received a UNESCO Slave Route Project “Site of Memory” designation of the Middle Passage arrival on Jekyll Island.