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Historians highlight Black history attractions during COVID-19

Posted at 6:21 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 18:21:06-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — If you're looking to learn about the rich Black history here in Tallahassee, it might be as simple as a walk in the park.

"Leon county has in place three important trails," says Althemese Barnes, Riley Museum Founder and Executive Director Emeritus.

Barnes says social distancing shouldn't stop you from getting a dose of Black history. Outdoor attractions like the audio-enhanced Soul Voices trail in Frenchtown, the Civil Rights Sidewalk at the Corner of Monroe and Jefferson Street, and the historical markers along Cascades Park offer important insight.

"A lot of people if they go to the 24-hour park Cascades Park even some local people did not know the footprint of that was a historic African-American community," says Barnes.

If you'd rather stay indoors, she adds, "I am very pleased that a lot of our museums did not stop engaging even in the midst of COVID-19."

The Riley House Museum features a unique attraction.

"We have Mr. Riley in his office. It's an animatronic, a full-sized figure of him, and he recites about 15 different historical pieces of information expanding his lifetime of 97 years in Leon county," Barnes explains.

You can also visit the grounds of the Knott House, built by a man born into slavery, or head to the Grove museum to learn how Governor Leroy Collins helped desegregate schools in Leon County.

A tour of Tallahassee's Black history wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Meek Eaton Archives for everything from agriculture to artistry.

"We present the history of African-Americans from Africa to freedom," says Dr. Nashid Madyun, Meek Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum director. There are a lot of contributions that African-Americans have made to the strengths of society and it's just not in those iconic individuals you hear about."

Meek Eaton is accepting visitors by appointment only for groups of 10 or less. If you can't go to them, they can send educational videos to you.