Savannah Black Heritage Experience
In This Article
SAVANNAH HISTORY TOUR
Savannah celebrates more than 250 years of black history and features a number of historic sites and museums that focus on this important piece of the area’s past. Discover the important contributions African Americans have made to the fabric of Savannah through daily specialized tours with Footprints of Savannah, 40 Acres and a Mule Tour and The Freedom Trail Tour.
OLDEST BLACK CONGREGATION IN NORTH AMERICA
Visit First African Baptist Church, home of the oldest black congregation in North America. At the time of its construction, the church’s mostly enslaved members worked on plantations surrounding the city by day and at night they were allowed to work on their church, completing the structure in 1859. It is also believed to have been a stop on the famed Underground Railroad.
SLAVE QUARTERS WALK-THROUGH
Visitors to the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters Museum are guided through one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in America, as well as the original slave quarters designed to house the enslaved men, women, and children who built the mansion and maintained the household.
On Monday evenings, the Savannah River Queen, is filled with uplifting sounds of Southern gospel music during the two-hour Gospel Dinner Cruise. Experience local Savannah gospel entertainers and enjoy the savory flavors of the South with a buffet of local foods. This is a cultural and culinary experience you won't want to miss!
Laurel Grove South is one Savannah’s most significant final resting places for African Americans who died in the 19th and 20th centuries. While slavery was still legal, there were more free African Americans interred in Laurel Grove South than any other cemetery in the Southeast.
FIGHT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
Established in 1996 and recognized in 2009 as “Georgia’s Official Civil Rights Museum,” the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum chronicles the struggle of Georgia’s oldest African American community from slavery to the present with three floors of photographic and interactive exhibits.
GULLAH GEECHEE TRADITIONS
Located in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory, the Pin Point Heritage Museum is your chance to experience Gullah Geechee culture first hand. For nearly 100 years, the community of Pin Point was quietly isolated on the banks of the Moon River just south of Savannah. Now, you can explore the refurbished museum complex and experience multimedia presentations, exciting exhibits and unparalleled views of the marsh!
"THE WEEPING TIME"
In 1859, one of the largest slave sales in U.S. history took place just a short distance outside of downtown Savannah. Remembered as "The Weeping Time," this historical event was adequately named not only for the families that were torn apart during this time, but also for the heavy rain that occurred throughout the two-day auction. Learn more about this historical event when you visit this park landmark.
AFRICAN ART TREASURES
The Savannah African Art Museum holds a collection of over 1,000 objects from West and Central Africa, representing 22 countries and over 130 cultures and ethnic groups. The collection showcases a range of unique ceremonial and spiritual objects from the 19th and 20th centuries made from ceramics, metal, and wood.
Established in 1865 as a school for newly freed slaves, the Beach Institute is Georgia’s oldest still-standing school for blacks. It’s now home to Savannah’s African American Arts Center.
Dating to the 1890s, the King-Tisdell Cottage has served as a cultural museum of African American arts and crafts for more than three decades.
FORTY ACRES AND A MULE
On January 16, 1865, General Sherman issued Special Field Order #15 in a field on the outskirts of Savannah. Shortly thereafter, General Rufus Saxton publicly addressed former slaves and church members at Second African Baptist Church on the provisions of Sherman’s offer, better known as the famous “forty acres and a mule” proclamation. Many years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would preach his “I Have A Dream” sermon here, an address he repeated during the famous march on Washington, D.C. in 1963. Learn more about this historic event on the unique 40 Acres and a Mule Walking Tour.
A MOVING MONUMENT
The most prominent homage to black history in Savannah, the African American Family Monument is found on River Street, depicting a newly emancipated family of four standing together in an embrace. While the figures are positioned to face both the Savannah River and the west coast of Africa, their modern clothing and the broken chains at their feet symbolize a new beginning in the Americas.
Savannah Black Heritage & Cultural Experiences
From historic sites and museums to the city's thriving black-owned businesses of today, Savannah's African American culture and rich heritage are important and noteworthy chapters in our city's story.Learn More