For the culture: Exploring African-American history in Savannah, Georgia | Traveling While Black

BY ONEIKA RAYMOND

Savannah, Georgia is rich in African-American history and is SO worth exploring. Visit the following spots to learn more about black history in Savannah!

Do a quick Google search of the term “Things to do in Savannah, Georgia” and you’ll be bombarded with a cornucopia of articles that might leave you a little overwhelmed. Pages upon pages of blog posts, websites, and ad copy describe Savannah’s offerings in meticulous detail (I should know– I wrote an article with a 48-hour Savannah itinerary myself *grins sheepishly*).

Amongst other things, they’ll tell you that MUST do a river cruise along the Savannah River in a paddleboat, that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO take a stroll through the historic district so you can marvel at the city’s abundant ornate architecture , and that you CAN’T MISS digging into its world renowned food scene (real talk, I don’t even have a sweet tooth but Leopold’s Ice Cream parlour can get ALL my coins).

But while you totally should do those quintessential Savannah things, one aspect of the city that doesn’t get nearly as much mainstream coverage is its African-American history.  Black history in Savannah can be found everywhere! And with over 250 years of African-American heritage, and a number of museums and historic sites chronicling the legacy of the city’s black community, it’s a side of Savannah that is well worth exploring.  Don’t know where to start?  No problem, I’ve got you covered!  Without any further ado, here are a few of the most prominent sites to visit to learn more about black history in Savannah.

The African American Monument

The most prominent homage to black history in Savannah is found on River Street. River Street, Savannah’s main drag, has a number of memorials adorning its pavements, and one of the most important is the African-American Families Monument.  The bronze and granite statue depicts a family of four standing together in an embrace after having been newly emanicipated from slavery.  While the figures are positioned to face both the Savannah River (enslaved Africans arrived to the city via this body of water) and the west coast of Africa (the starting point of the journey), their modern clothing and the broken chains at their feet symbolize a new beginning in the Americas.  This statue is said to be the one of the first monuments acknowledging the legacy and contributions of the city’s enslaved people.  The statue is inscribed with a moving quote by Maya Angelou and should be your first stop on a black history tour of Savannah.

The First African Baptist Church

Officially constituted in 1777, the First African Baptist Church is the oldest black church in North America and a great example of how African-American history in Savannah has withstood the test of time.  Many elements from its initial construction still remain: the light fixtures, baptismal pool, and pews in the balcony are all original to the church.  There are also many other nods to Savannah’s black history.  For example, enslaved Africans made those aforementioned original pews by hand, and African prayer symbols adorn the floors and walls.  The church is a National Historic Landmark, and by all accounts, a national treasure.

Laurel Grove Cemetery (South)

Formerly known colloquially as the “Negro Ground” burial site, the southern section of the Laurel Grove Cemetery is one of the oldest black cemeteries still in use.  As a designated final resting place for enslaved and free people of colour, this part of Laurel Grove is rich in history.  The tombstones on the manicured property quietly tell abbreviated stories of those laid to rest, many of whom were noted members of Savannah’s African-American community (including several pastors and leaders in the Civil Rights Movement).  At over 90 acres in size, Laurel Grove’s “coloured section”, as it was once called, is one of the largest African-American burial grounds in the southeast.

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

Often referred to as Georgia’s Official Civil Rights Museum, the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum gives a comprehensive look into black history in Savannah from slavery to the present day.  Named for Ralph Mark Gilbert, a former president of the Savannah chapter of the NAACP, pastor at the First African Baptist Church, and Civil Rights leader, the museum chronicles Georgia’s role in the fight for equal rights in the United States.  There are three floors of interactive exhibits, photographs, and artifacts telling the events taking place up to, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement.

Walls Bar-B-Que Restaurant

Exploring black history in Savannah is sure to get you hungry, so you’d do well to march yourself to this noted barbecue shop in the city’s scenic historic district.  Blink and you’ll miss it (use your GPS!), Walls’ Bar-B-Que is a bit difficult to find, but well worth the search.  The restaurant is black owned, operated, and has been a favourite of soul-food conoisseurs since 1963.  When I dropped by I had the good luck to run into owner Teresa Weston, who told me the restaurant has been in the family for three generations.  With inexpensive and exceptionally large portions, there’s no better spot to immerse yourself in Savannah’s rich African-American culture and heritage.

Guided tours to learn more about black history in Savannah

Got time and looking to deepen your understanding of Savannah’s African-American culture and history?  A guided tour might be right up your alley.  Here are two of the best.

The Freedom Trail Tour- This bus tour of Savannah’s black heritage is owned and operated by Johnnie Brown, an affable and knowledgeable guide with over 20 years of experience.  The tour, which visits the majority of the sights listed above and more, runs 7 days a week and departs from Savannah’s Visitors Center. Cost: $25 for adults, with discounted rates for children, students, and seniors. Length: approx. 2 hours.

Gullah Geechee Tour- This tour, run by an operator called Day Clean Journeys, also highlights the legacy of black people in Savannah. However, the tour has a specific focus on the history of the Gullah Geechee, a community of African-Americans who have their own distinct language and culture. More information on tour times, costs, and departure points can be found here.

**

The more I travel around the U.S., the more I realize just how important a role African-Americans play in this country’s history.  Because make no mistake– African-American history IS American history, and exploring destinations through this lens is something we should more consciously do.  Black history in Savannah is a crucial part of the city’s story, so it’s well worth delving into more deeply.

Have you ever explored the African-American roots of a place in your exploration across the U.S.?

 

This post was produced in partnership with Visit Savannah.

SHARING IS CARING

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

78 Comments

  • Thanks so much for this! I’ve wanted to visit Savannah for years now, ever since I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, PLUS my grandmother’s family is from there.

    Reply
  • Greetings and salutations, I am really interested relocating to the savannah area. With the city’s rich black history I look forward exploring this aspect more.
    Boiled peanuts here I come

    Reply
  • Thank you so much for this!!! Right now, I’m just visiting Savannah and may come here for work long term. This article really was needed and deeply appreciated!

    Reply
  • Thanks for another fantastic post. The place else may
    anyone get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing?

    I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such info.

    Reply
  • Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
    authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could
    greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by
    the way!

    Reply
  • Hello everyone, it’s my first go to see at
    this site, and paragraph is really fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting such
    posts.

    Reply
  • Thank you for some other informative website. Where else could I get
    that type of info written in such a perfect means? I’ve a project
    that I am just now working on, and I’ve been at the glance out for such
    info.

    Reply
  • It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be
    happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

    Reply
  • I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems?
    A small number of my blog audience have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks
    great in Firefox. Do you have any tips to help
    fix this problem?

    Reply
  • Hello, its good paragraph regarding media print, we all understand
    media is a wonderful source of facts.

    Reply
  • Hey great website! Does running a blog similar to this take a large amount of work?
    I have very little knowledge of coding however I
    had been hoping to start my own blog in the near
    future. Anyways, should you have any recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off subject however I just wanted to ask.

    Many thanks!

    Reply
  • I know this website offers quality based content and additional information, is there any other site which
    presents these information in quality?

    Reply
  • Hello very cool website!! Man .. Beautiful ..
    Wonderful .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds additionally?
    I am glad to find a lot of useful info here in the publish, we’d
    like develop extra techniques on this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

    Reply
  • Hi, this weekend is good for me, because this point in time i am reading this great informative piece of writing here at my home.

    Reply
  • You’ve made some good points there. I looked on the internet for more info about the issue and found most people will
    go along with your views on this website.

    Reply
  • I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this
    post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed
    about my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

    Reply
  • It is in reality a great and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you just
    shared this useful info with us. Please stay us informed
    like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help prevent content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate it.|

    Reply
  • Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This
    is an extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it
    and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.

    I will definitely return.

    Reply
  • Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting
    anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also
    create comment due to this sensible paragraph.

    Reply
  • Quality articles or reviews is the key to be a
    focus for the viewers to pay a visit the website, that’s
    what this web site is providing.

    Reply
  • excellent publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this.
    You should proceed your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’
    base already!

    Reply
  • Heya! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I
    had to ask. Does operating a well-established website such as
    yours take a lot of work? I am completely new
    to operating a blog but I do write in my diary everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and views online.

    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Thankyou!

    Reply
  • It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before end I am reading this great piece
    of writing to increase my know-how.

    Reply
  • I am not sure where you are getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.

    Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    Reply
  • I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and amusing,
    and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about.
    Now i’m very happy that I found this during my search
    for something regarding this.

    Reply
  • hello there and thank you for your info – I’ve definitely picked up something new
    from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this website, since I
    experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could
    get it to load correctly. I had been wondering
    if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but
    sluggish loading instances times will very frequently affect
    your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing
    with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look
    out for much more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

    Reply
  • It’s going to be finish of mine day, however before ending I am reading this wonderful article to increase my experience.

    Reply
  • If you want to take a good deal from this paragraph then you have to apply such strategies
    to your won webpage.

    Reply
  • If some one wants to be updated with most recent technologies afterward he must
    be pay a quick visit this web page and be
    up to date daily.

    Reply
  • My family all the time say that I am wasting my time here at web,
    except I know I am getting knowledge daily by reading thes fastidious articles or reviews.

    Reply
  • Hi! I understand this is kind of off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established website like yours require a large amount of work?
    I am brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my
    journal daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips
    for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

    Reply
  • Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My site looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem.
    If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • I’ve been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

    It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all site owners
    and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

    Reply
  • I always used to study article in news papers but now as I am
    a user of net thus from now I am using net for articles, thanks to
    web.

    Reply
  • A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to publish more about this subject, it might
    not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t speak about such issues.
    To the next! Cheers!!

    Reply
  • If you happen to be in Georgia and are looking for a place to relax and unwind check https://visittybee.com/vacation-rentals Savannah Georgia Beach. The island is perfect for a day of relaxation, the island also hosts lots of events so you’ll never get bored. Hoping we can go back again this year if everything went well.

    Reply
  • Thank you for every other excellent post. Where else may anyone get that type of
    info in such a perfect method of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for
    such info.

    Reply
  • Great post! I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot.

    Reply
  • I like the helpful information you provide on your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and test again here frequently.
    I am fairly certain I will learn lots of new stuff proper right here!
    Good luck for the next!

    Reply
  • As the admin of this website is working, no doubt very soon it will be renowned,
    due to its feature contents.

    Reply
  • You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write.
    The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t
    afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your
    heart.

    Reply
  • Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.

    Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks a lot

    Reply
  • It’s truly very complicated in this busy life to listen news
    on TV, so I only use internet for that reason, and take the most up-to-date news.

    Reply
  • I’m really loving the theme/design of your weblog.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems?
    A couple of my blog visitors have complained about my
    site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera.
    Do you have any recommendations to help fix this issue?

    Reply
  • This piece of writing offers clear idea designed for the new users of blogging,
    that really how to do blogging.

    Reply
  • Hello this is a excellent article. I’m going to mail this to my friends. I stumbled on this while searching on google I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with after that you can write if notit is complicated to write.

    Reply
  • A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!

    Reply
  • 50 Low priced Designed for All Private Proxies! Top dogs top quality, Any number of data transfer, 1000 mb/s superspeed, 99,9 uptime, Neo continuous IP’s, Certainly no ingestion laws, Different subnets, USA as well as European countries proxies – Buy At this moment – DreamProxies.com

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.