Visit the Florida Black Heritage Trail

Shelby Senesac, News Editor

In honor of Black History Month, take a trip back in time and explore the Florida Black Heritage Trail to learn more about Florida’s African American history. The trail works as a guide to all the different African-American landmarks and legacies that people can go visit in various locations across Florida, including here in Jacksonville.

“Black History Month” by Enokson is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Creative Commons

According to the Florida Department of State, in 1990, the Florida legislature created the Study Commission on African-American History in Florida to increase public awareness of African Americans’ contributions to the state. The commission was asked to recommend methods to establish a “Heritage Trail” to identify sites, buildings, and other points of interest in black history that should be preserved and promoted as tourist attractions.


Here are some of the stops on the Florida Black Heritage Trail in Jacksonville and surrounding areas:

Ritz Theatre and Museum – 829 N Davis St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

The Ritz Theatre and Museum is known for its stunning Art Deco style architecture, holding music, dance, theatrical productions, and rich African American history behind its walls. The Ritz Theatre and Museum was established in 1999 on the site of the 1929 Ritz Theater movie house in Jacksonville’s historic African American community of La Villa. La Villa became known as the “Harlem of the South” during the 1920s-1960s and is considered “the mecca for African American culture and heritage” in Florida. The mission of the Ritz Theatre and Museum is to connect communities to the past, present, and future contributions and stories of African American arts and culture in Jacksonville.


 Norman Studios – 6337 Arlington Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32211

Norman Studios was founded in 1916 as Eagle Film City and was then purchased by a white filmmaker, Richard E. Norman, in 1921. Norman Studios was one of the nation’s first to produce “race films” starring African American characters in positive, non-stereotypical roles. The mission of Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc., is to preserve, present, and promote the history of silent movies and race films in Northeast Florida on the landmark campus of Eagle Film City/Norman Studios.


Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island / Photo courtesy of Visit Jacksonville

Kingsley Plantation – 11676 Palmetto Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Kingsley Plantation is Florida’s oldest standing plantation home, which was built in 1798. Zephaniah Kingsley lived in the home from 1814 to 1837 with his wife, who he’d purchased as a slave, and their four children. Slaves on Kingsley’s plantation were forced to grow Sea Island cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn. Visitors of Kingsley Plantation can tour the plantation house, conserved slave quarters, a barn, waterfront, kitchen house, and garden.


Fort Mose Historic State Park – 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32084

Fort Mose, also known as Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosa, is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African American settlement. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Fort Mose. It was built specifically for those people fleeing slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas. The fort itself is no longer there, but visitors can still view the area where the fort once stood. There’s also a Visitor Center and museum for guests to explore and learn more about the history of Fort Mose.


These are just some of the many landmarks to visit on the Florida Black Heritage Trail.

To view the entire list, click here.


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