This Black History Month, visit Columbus’ Historic Black Heritage Trail

The Black Heritage Trail is an eight mile long history book located throughout downtown and midtown Columbus
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 12:48 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Black History month is always a great opportunity to learn, teach, and recognize the historical struggles and accomplishments of African Americans, and in the Fountain City, there is so much rich history that you may want to consider learning more about during this month and beyond.

The Black Heritage Trail is a National Recreation Trail that embodies the contributions of African Americans from Columbus.

“If you don’t know your history, then you don’t know where you are going to because you don’t know if you’re traveling over the same roads that your ancestors traveled over, or if you’re trying to create new roads,” says Executive Director of Turn Around Columbus Ronzell Buckner. “A lot of times that is the problem that causes a lot of our kids to get into trouble.”

News Leader 9 met with Buckner at one of his favorite stops along that trail, the first black theatre in Columbus.

“When I was basically a young man in this city, this was what they call the colored movies and I used to bring my high school sweetheart here. It was our Sunday outing,” says Buckner.

The Liberty Theatre Cultural Center is one of 30 historical sites featured on the 8 mile heritage trail, or an 8 mile history book rather. Buckner says he remembers not having to bother his parents for money to go catch a movie.

“We used to get into the Liberty Theater with Royal Crown Cola bottle caps, so that saved our parents a lot of funds,” says Buckner.

The trail goes throughout downtown and midtown Columbus telling the stories dating back to the 1800s. Some of the along the way include Friendship Baptist Church (site 8), the first interracial law firm in Columbus (site 18), the Columbus Urban League (site 19) , and the Mildred L. Terry public library, the first public library for blacks in a segregated Columbus.

“African Americans were barred from using the existing library, and so in response to their protest to have library service, this library was built to grant access to library services,” says branch manager Silvia Bunn.

“This library represents a lived experience of so many people, a lived experience that is sometimes is not documented in history books, says Bunn, ”I want people to know this library embodies a struggle and is really a model of what overcoming looks like.”

“I just love to see the expressions of everyone’s faces when they see how rich the city is with black history,” says Immediate past President of Georgia NAACP, Barbara Pierce. She will be part of a guided Columbus Black Heritage Bus Tour, if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself soon.

Some of the young people, because they are not taught in school, do not know a lot about the Black history in Columbus, Georgia,” says Pierce, “I think that’s very important that the kids know where they are from and who actually opened the doors for them.”

The Black Heritage Bus Tour will be Saturday, February 11. If you are interested in joining the tour, contact Barbara Pierce at (706)-577-3197.

Tickets are $35.