The Peach State is riddled with routes to some of the most integral and inspiring destinations to appreciate African-American culture from then to now.
With Black History Month's national focus on "Black Migrations" throughout 2019, temporarily wandering to the following areas to celebrate African-American entertainment, education and landmarks affords scores of soulful experiences.
From Southern farmlands to Southern cities, these sites share the emergence of black excellence and heritage across the state:
Entering the birthplace of "Georgia on my Mind" singer Ray Charles instantly takes you back to Deep South blues and black musical history. After visiting the downtown area's outdoor Ray Charles Plaza statue and listening to his most popular tunes, a must-tour site of African-American significance is Albany's Civil Rights Institute. The institute features rare images, oral stories and timeless memorabilia about Southwest Georgia's role in the civil rights movement. You can actually hear the spirituals and gospel songs from this era as the Free Singers perform live every second Saturday of the month at 1 p.m. in the restored Old Mt. Zion Church.
Albany Civil Rights Institute | 326 Whitney Ave., Albany, Georgia, 31701 | 229-432-1698
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Tickets: Adults, $6; Seniors, $5; Students, $5; Children under 4, Free
Since the 1940s, Paschal's has been serving the best fried chicken of Atlanta with the help of its secret recipe, which only a few know to this day. Founded by black business brothers James and Robert Paschal, the restaurant gives guests authentic soul food with a modern flair in the center of the Historic Castleberry Hill area. The original restaurant-hotel was established in the Atlanta University Center Consortium — the world's largest alliance of African-American private institutions in higher education. The former site became a meeting place for civil rights movement strategists and leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The now two-story location carries the same ambiance of black progression as the original establishment did with civil rights trailblazers gracing its current walls. Developed in 1929 and only a few blocks away from the new Paschal's, the Atlanta University Center Consortium includes historically black schools and universities Clark Atlanta, Spelman and Morehouse, which give a sense of black pride and educational perseverance as soon as you step on each campus.
Paschal's Restaurant | 180 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Georgia, 30313 | 404-525-2023
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday:; : 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday brunch; and 5-9 p.m Sunday dinner.
Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud. The Godfather of Soul's lyrics will hit ya as soon as you walk into a downtown restaurant or concert venue of his childhood home of Augusta. You can perform his famous camel walk and funky chicken moves next to his iconic statue on Broad Street, too. After a little musical lesson with James, head over to the only African-American museum in the area: Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History. A truly phenomenal woman, Laney made education top priority. She started the first kindergarten for black children and founded the Lamar School of Nursing for black women in Augusta.
Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History | 1116 Phillips St., Augusta, Georgia, 30901 | 706-724-3576
9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Tickets: Adults, $7; Seniors, $5; Military and Family, $5; Youth 18 and under, $3; Preschool, Free
Eatonton: Alice Walker Driving Tour
This countryside attraction deserves a dirt road visit because of the deep-rooted storytelling that comes with it. The self-guided tour takes you back to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker's rural upbringing in Middle Georgia. Visit Wards Chapel A.M.E. Church where "The Color Purple" writer was baptized and attended as a child. Drive past her and her mother's birthplaces and where her parents are buried. Learn more never-heard-before anecdotes about the acclaimed author at the Georgia Writers Museum. The museum features a permanent exhibit dedicated to Walker's small-town backstory and international writing success as well.
Alice Walker Driving Tour | 305 N Madison Ave., Eatonton, Georgia, 31024 | 706-485-7701
Georgia Writer's Museum | 109 S Jefferson Ave., Eatonton, Georgia 31024 | 706-991-5119
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, brochures available at the chamber Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets: Ticket prices vary.
Fort Valley: Fort Valley State University (FVSU)
The public historically black university is the cultural and educational heartbeat of its rural community. Known for its lively tailgate and homecoming celebrations of black pride and academic excellence during the fall, FVSU is a land-grant institution that has served as a significant centerpiece to the city since its development dating back to 1895. FVSU hosts black scholastic events throughout the year and always welcomes back its trailblazing alumni. Easily meet Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre during major campus functions. The FVSU graduate was the youngest member of the Georgia House of Representatives, now the longest-serving member and first African-American chair of the Democratic state legislative caucus. And “Black Panther” fans should know that mathematics alumnus Jachin Myers helped make movie history when he served as a stuntman in the hit Marvel film.
Fort Valley State University | 1005 State University Drive, Fort Valley, Georgia 31030 | 877-462-3878
Savannah: Gullah/Geechee Heritage
The Gullah/Geechee culture runs deeper than deep along Coastal Georgia. Descendants of enslaved West Africans who worked cotton and indigo plantations of Georgia's Sea Islands, Gullah/Geechee people have retained their African customs while living in Pin Point, Georgia, for nearly 100 years. Often sharing their language, music, food, arts and crafts with visitors traveling from Savannah down to St. Marys, these gifted artisans and fishermen have their generational stories safeguarded at Pin Point Heritage Museum. The seaside attraction captures the essence of the culture and its contributions to the Savannah area through multimedia presentations and oral history that includes natural views of the community's marshlands.
Pin Point Heritage Museum | 9924 Pin Point Ave., Savannah, Georgia, 31406 | 912-355-0064
Thursday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets: Adults, $8; Children 2 to 12, $4
Thomasville: Jack Hadley Black History Museum
This South Georgia town is filled with unsung black heroes and both local and national African-American narratives. Thomasville houses the Jack Hadley Black History Museum — a more than 4,000 artifact repository of black achievements. Created by Retired Chief Master Sgt. James "Jack" Hadley, the museum spans from black plantation to black military life to blacks in movies and music. It features rare Ebony and Jet magazines, original artwork and moving photography of cultural milestones. A touring highlight is a special exhibit dedicated to Buffalo Soldier Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper, a born slave of Thomasville who fought his way academically to become the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Jack Hadley Black History Museum | 214 Alexander St., Thomasville, Georgia, 31792 | 229-226-5029
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: Adults, $5; Students, $3
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