This January and February, learn about our nation’s complex past while looking forward to a hopeful future.
From documents displaying a rare glimpse into slavery to the grave site of a freed slave who became one of the country’s most noted architects to a fascinating talk by a Smithsonian expert on African American history, a trip to LaGrange, Georgia, is a must this Black History month. Located less than an hour from both Atlanta and Columbus, this easy trip is one that will focus on America’s hard history, leaving guests forever changed.
Start the Black History Month celebration early by listening to a lecture from the Smithsonian’s lead expert in African American history and culture. Author John Franklin played a major role in constructing the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. The museum is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history and culture. It has over 36,000 artifacts and takes visitors through the earliest days of slavery to current day–displaying how far the African American culture has evolved, despite the tremendous odds in the past. Franklin will speak about the significance of the museum, his vast knowledge of African American history and will also address the progress of LaGrange/Troup County’s recent racial reconciliation program. The talk will be held at LaGrange College on January 18, 2017. There will be a reception for Mr. Franklin at Legacy Museum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Also in January, Congressman John Lewis will be speaking at LaGrange College on the 26th as part of the College’s Martin Luther King Day festivities.
Once in LaGrange, head over to the Legacy Museum. Through the month of February, this unique establishment hosts Lifting More Voices: Early Troup County Black History. This insightful exhibit takes guests on a journey through the local area’s fascinating black heritage, from the founding of Troup County to the end of World War I. The story is told with photographs, news articles, maps, biographies, documents and artifacts. Two walls cover the period prior to 1865, including a look at slave life as seen in court documents, slaves who were freed as early as 1831 and the documents that brought freedom to the whole nation: the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
Continue the voyage back in time by browsing photographs of the area’s earliest black churches, ministers, schools and teachers, as well as historically black cemeteries. Get up close to items made by African American craftsmen in the 1850s. Learn about the two black militia companies that started in Troup County in 1878 and 1884 and the roster of local black men who served in World War I, including an honor roll of those who died in service. Learn about the first black physicians and lawyers as well as the first black fair ever held in America, 1878, in LaGrange. It is a celebration of African-American achievement 1865-1920.
The Legacy Museum on Main is also home to Horace King and Family: Building Bridges Across the Community. This exhibit focuses on the life and works of Horace King and his sons. Born into slavery in South Carolina in 1807, King became a prominent bridge architect and construction manager in Alabama and Georgia before being granted his freedom in 1846. King is one of the most respected bridge builders from the 19th century, constructing dozens of structures in the South. King also served in Alabama’s House of Representatives from 1868-1872. The family moved to LaGrange, Georgia, in 1872 and they continued building churches, commercial structures, schools and homes, as well as bridges. Horace died in LaGrange in 1885, his last son, John, in 1926. The exhibit explores the many other contributions the family made to the built and cultural environment of LaGrange. Along with the exhibit honoring his life, visitors can also visit the African-American leader’s grave site in Troup County. The museum is open Monday-Friday from 9a.m.-5p.m. Call ahead to check for Saturday openings. Admission to the museum is free, donations are welcome.
Remember our nation’s complex past while embracing a hopeful tomorrow by visiting one of the South’s most profound pieces of Black History–LaGrange, Georgia.
If you go
Rest easy at one of the many hotels charming Troup County has to offer. From economic steals to boutique bed and breakfasts–guests will find the perfect place to settle in at www.LagrangeChamber.com.