Black History Month is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than through a road trip. If you are looking for a city to explore full of rich African American history, great food, and beautiful sites, Augusta, GA should be on your list. From James Brown to Jessye Norman, this beautiful southern city is the perfect place to celebrate Black History Month. To get your trip planned, we have highlighted just a few of the African American heritage sites to explore. Be sure to share images of your heritage travels using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle
Black History Month Travels: Augusta, GA – James Brown to Jessye Norman
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown:
Considering Augusta played such a huge role in James Brown’s life, it is only fitting that the artist is remembered throughout the city. At the Augusta Museum of History, the one-of-a-kind James Brown Exhibit features rare memorabilia and personal artifacts that vividly tell the story of The Godfather of Soul’s life. An array of costumes, artifacts, interviews with Brown, records, images and audio-visual stations which highlight concert performances, albums, studio recordings and more are on display in this impressive exhibit. www.augustamuseum.org/jamesbrown.php
In downtown Augusta, a life-size bronze statue of James Brown serves as a reminder of his legacy to fans and visitors of the city. When James Brown passed away, the statue was a popular place for fans to pay tribute to his life, and many still leave items to honor his life at the statue. The items left behind are all collected from the statue and given to his family and the Augusta Museum of History- where some items are displayed for the public to see.
- Private tours of where James Brown visited/frequented are led by James Brown’s Daughter, Deanna Brown and can be set up and enjoyed via the James Brown Family Foundation. https://jbtour.jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org/
- The life-size bronze statue of Mr. Brown in downtown Augusta contains the world’s only James Brown CAM which will take your photo and send it to your cell phone within minutes.
- Many establishments around the city have food and drink options named after the late legend including area breweries and more.
- The Soul Bar Augusta –This downtown hot spot celebrates the rhythm and soul of the larger than life singer and other musical inspirations. Not only do they feature artists consistently who cover Brown’s songs, and tributes to the late and great artist, but the walls are filled with décor celebrating the Godfather of Soul.
Pioneer for Education, Lucy Craft Laney:
Lucy Craft Laney was an African American educator who opened the first school for African American children in 1883.
- The Lucy Craft Laney Museum is the only African American Museum in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA, Augusta and its Surrounding Areas). The museum, which opened in 1991, is a small house museum that was the former home of Miss Lucy Craft Laney. Tucked away on a quiet side street off of Laney Walker Boulevard and across the street from Lucy Craft Laney High School, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History is a trove of knowledge, historical lessons, and community offerings, carrying on the storied legacy of Ms. Laney for this generation and beyond. LucyCraftLaneyMuseum.com/
Acclaimed Opera Singer and Philanthropist, Jessye Norman:
The late and great opera singer and philanthropist, Jessye Norman left an indescribable impact on Augusta and continues to live on through her legacy via the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.
- The Jessye Norman School of the Arts is an after-school program designed to develop and nurture the artistic and creative talents of students. The School of the Arts serves the cultural and educational needs of these youth by providing: Tuition-free Fine Artsinstruction. http://www.jessyenormanschool.org/
Discover more heritage with an African American History Walk. Trek down Laney Walker Boulevard, a street that pays homage to some of Augusta’s prominent African American leaders. See monuments dedicated to men and women like Essie McIntyre, the first black female to be ordained in the Augusta area, Judge John H. Ruffin, the first African American chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Laney, founder of the Haines Normal & Industrial Institute Lamar School of Nursing.
Part of the Augusta Downtown Historic District, the village of Springfield was developed on lands confiscated from James Grierson, a Tory during the Revolutionary War. Because of their displacement from the Silver Bluff Plantation in South Carolina during the Revolution, a large population of free African Americans settled in Springfield by 1787. They established the Springfield Baptist Church, one of the oldest independent black congregations in the United States and is still open today and is where Morehouse College originated.5