Where did the sweet melodies of jazz begin? When did Louisiana’s delicious Creole/Cajun cuisine come to life? And just how long have the majestic, towering Spanish moss oaks been here? The answers to these questions and more can be found along The Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
There are 41 exciting stops all along the trail that offer insight into a different time in Louisiana history. Travel across the state and explore majestic plantations, historic churches and educational museums to learn more about Louisiana’s rich history that continues to impact generations and is truly “a story like no other.”
Congo Square inside Louis Armstrong Park | New Orleans
The birthplace of jazz can be found at this stop. Originally, this open-air market was where enslaved people would gather on Sundays to talk, dance, sing and participate in sacred African rituals. Today, you can visit the park to relax and enjoy the scenery or tour the park and learn all about the history of jazz. Louis Armstrong statue pictured
Louisiana State Capitol | Baton Rouge
Political leader Huey P. Long built this grandiose stop. The Louisiana State Capitol is the tallest state capitol building in the U.S. and offers many unique things to do inside. The front lobby houses the bust of P. B. S. Pinchback, the first African American governor in American history, and the 27th floor observation deck offers unparalleled views of Baton Rouge.
Melrose Plantation | Melrose
This spot is located in Natchitoches Parish. Melrose is the 200 year-old plantation where the famous Afro-Creole Metoyer family began. On the property you will see “The African House,” which is unique to the plantation. It is a rare example of African architecture in Louisiana. There are many other things to enjoy on this National Historic Landmark stop. You can view a beautiful collection of work by folk artist Clementine Hunter or take a self-guided tour around the pristine garden. Plantation chapel pictured
Grambling State University | Grambling
African American farmers organized the creation of this stop in 1901. Originally an industrial and agricultural school, Grambling State University now has more than 40 degree programs and continues to be one of the country’s top producers of African American graduates, especially in Computer Information Science. The famous Tiger Marching Band can also be found here.
Hermione Museum | Tallulah
At this stop, you can learn all about the first black millionaire, Madame C. J. Walker. A daughter of former slaves, this woman earned her pretty penny by designing hair care products. The museum houses many different exhibits in addition to Madame Walker’s. It was used as a hospital during the Civil War and is the only structure that remains standing in Madison Parish that was built before the war.
Evergreen Plantation | Edgard
The most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, Evergreen also boasts an alley of 100 oaks and 22 slave cabins on the property. It’s no surprise this property caught the attention of Director Quentin Tarantino, who filmed parts of “Django Unchained” here. Archival records show that in 1835, 54 slaves resided in 12 cabins on the plantation. After the Civil War, freed slaves continued to live in “the Quarters” until 1940. (Row of oaks and slave cabins pictured at top.)
Black Heritage Gallery | Lake Charles
Built in 1912, this stop was originally an elementary school. After changing hands a few times, the location became The Central School Arts & Humanities Center. Here, you can tour galleries and learn about historic contributions made by African Americans in Southwest Louisiana.
These are just a few of the places along the trail where you can step out and learn all about how black Louisianans have impacted history. To begin planning your trip, click here.
Photos courtesy of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.