Local historic sites important to Black History

Pathfinders Travel Magazine writer P.J. Thomas took Black History Month as an opportunity to highlight a few historic sites that have played an important part of American history — because, as Thomas pointed out, black history is American history.

Given the current economic crisis, U.S. travel provides a welcoming opportunity to see the country anew.

Some of the relevant Black History Month sites, such the Martin Luther King Memorial in Atlanta and the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, are more well-known, but, Thomas says that others, such as the Motown Museum, are equally as fascinating.

Topping the Pathfinders Travel Magazine list of historic sites is the Gullah/Geechie Heritage Corridor. The descendants of enslaved West Africans developed a unique culture and language due to years of isolation living on the coastal islands of North and South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida.

In 2006, those coastal areas were designated as one of America’s important heritage corridors. Cultural presentations, museums and tours highlight the Gullah/Geechie culture in places such as Savannah, Charleston, Hilton Head Island, and Beaufort, South Carolina.

St. Augustine resident Derek Boyd Hankerson, who is the Managing Partner of Freedom Road, LLC., was delighted that northeast Florida is receiving national attention for its part in the history of the Gullah people.

When Hankerson saw the Pathfinders article, he said, “In my mind, the more we do to promote accurate history — the more people will come to St. Augustine and visit our sites.”

Hankerson has been an active voice supporting the importance of Fort Mose in St. Augustine as the first free community of ex-slaves.

“I am glad things are working well and we are working together to increase multicultural heritage tourism”, Hankerson said.