Cyclists on a tour with Bike Bike Baby in Augusta, Georgia

Bike Bike Baby tour in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @visitaugusta

6 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.

The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Courtesy of @nemosnaps

Atlanta

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.

Related: Dining Legacies: Must-Try Black-Owned Restaurants

Interior Morton Theatre

Morton Theatre Courtesy of Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services

Athens

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.

Outdoor dining at The Brunch House in Augusta, Georgia

The Brunch House in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by @visitaugusta

Augusta

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.

Wooden boat along the Wanderer Memory Trail on Jekyll Island, Georgia

Wanderer Memory Trail on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Jekyll Island

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.

Woman looking at Untold Stories exhibit at the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia

Untold Stories exhibit at the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

Macon

Nestled in the heart of Georgia, Macon stands as a vibrant city weaving a tapestry of Black history, culture, and legacy. Begin your day at the Tubman Museum, exploring a 55-foot mural chronicling achievements from Africa to the U.S. and inventions by brilliant Black minds.

Explore Macon's entertainment history at the Douglass Theatre, founded in 1921 by Charles Douglass, son of a former slave. Renovated and vibrant, it hosted performances by Black icons like Cab Calloway and Little Richard, continuing to screen films and host stage performances today.

For a flavorful break, head to Francar's Buffalo Wings with over 49 wing flavors. The Mercer Gold sauce pays homage to university colors, and the Macon Heat offers a level-three spicy kick with peppery notes.

The sign at The Grey in Savannah, Georgia

The Grey in Savannah, Georgiaa. Photo by @gcalebjones

Savannah

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. Or, take a 90-minute bus tour with Savannah Black History Tours and learn about the city's rich Black history dating back to 1526.

Later, venture just outside of Savannah to Pin Point Heritage Museum. The museum 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.

On nearby Tybee Island, follow the Tybee Island Black History Trail, tracing 13 locations that uncover parts of the island's history and geographies that remain unfamiliar to most people. Learn about the arrival of enslaved Africans, the ways Jim Crow impacted Black Tybee residents, the thriving community of fishermen with Gullah Geechee roots, successful Black entrepreneurs and more.

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.

Published: February 2024
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