Learn about the Godfather of Soul and other African American leaders in Georgia’s historic city.
Home of the “Godfather of Soul” and rich with African American heritage, Augusta, Georgia, 150 miles southeast of Atlanta, is a Black History Month destination. The colonial city has been welcoming guests for decades and continues to do so with artistic and historic points of interest and easy accessibility.
Begin an exploration into the heritage of the area at the Augusta Museum of History, founded in 1937 and home to the largest historical collection in the Central Savannah River Area, including a major exhibition with interactive kiosks paying homage to Augusta native and “Godfather of Soul” James Brown.
Discover more heritage with an African American History Walk and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, the only African American Museum in the area. Here, you can discover the contribution of African American first responders to Augusta in a newly opened exhibit. Hop on board the trolley tour, offered every Friday, and visit more than 30 significant sites related to Augusta’s heritage. Walk 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. Take time to explore the Laney Museum’s traveling exhibit, free and open to the public during February, in the lobby of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Augusta.
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.
Brimming with artistic and historic points of interest, unveiling the cultural side of Augusta is must-do in February. Between explorations, take time to eat locally and soulfully at T-Bonz Steakhouse, one of James Brown’s favorite places to grab a bite– complete with a menu section devoted to the Godfather of Soul. In North Augusta, DeShawn’s Seafood is owned by Brown’s former body guard who is now married to Deanna Brown Thomas–James Brown’s daughter.
As Brown recorded in 1970, “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” by recognizing and celebrating Black History Month throughout the South.
Featured photo of James Brown statue by J. Stephen Conn from Flickr Creative Commons.