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Savannah Black Heritage: Culture Rich Ideas From Green Palm Inn

February 2013 is African American History Month in Savannah, Georgia USA, a select time to schedule a culture-rich stay and celebrate Black Heritage in the American South.

Civil War and African American history at Greene Meldrim House in Savannah GA

African American and Civil War Heritage at Greene-Meldrim House

Green Palm Inn points to top-of-mind favorites that bring Black Heritage to life everyday, not just during African American History Month.  Located on Greene Square in the Landmark Historic District, the B&B inn’s lodgers at the top-rated cottage inn in downtown Savannah will be near rich African-American points of interest.


“My guests enjoy taking part in the diverse cultures in Savannah, not simply hearing the stories or seeing artifacts,” adds Diane.

To make your Black Heritage adventure more personal, we thought you’d enjoy sampling the foods inspired by African cultures, visiting the landscapes and places, hearing the rich Black History stories and lore,and soaking up America’s most beautiful city from Savannah’s African American vantage points.

The locally active innkeeper shares innkeeper Diane McCray’s Top Ten Black Heritage ideas, beginning at Green Palm Inn.

  1. Indulge in Savannah’s Sunday Jazz Brunch, featuring Jazz with Ben Tucker and Friends at the Aqua Star restaurant on Hutchison Island (most Sundays).  Acknowledged among the world’s Top Ten Bass Players, Ben has performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra,  Herbie Mann, Billy Taylor, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Cy Coleman, Red Norvel, Tommy Flanagan, Quincy Jones, Gerry Mulligan, Ellis Marsalis, and Sam Cook.
  2. See African art in Savannah. Begin at the Dr. Walter O. Evans Collection, African American art at SCAD Museum of Art. Works include 19th-century landscape paintings of the Hudson River School to works by masters of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as later 20th-century works by Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden, among others.Beach Institute — now a center for African-American art and history in downtown Savannah — was featured in the October 3, 1868, Harper’s Weekly article about newly constructed schools for African-Americans.
  3. Tour Telfair’s Owens-Thomas House on Oglethorpe Square.  The original carriage house contains one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South.
  4. Soak up the historical stories and lore with a visit to City Market and Franklin Square. Here emancipated slaves brought to market edibles from their labor, like farm crops from White Bluff small farms, and birds and ducks shot along the Savannah River.  Located in south side Savannah, White Bluff is a collection of communities—Nicholsonboro, Rose Dhu, Twin Hill, and Cedar Grove – whose inhabitants today are descendants of former slaves on a large plantation on St. Catherines Island owned by Jacob Waldburg.  The Haitian Monument honors black Haitians who fought with the French in the American Revolutionary War.Check out sesame-laden Benne Wafers at the new Byrd Cookie Company in City Market.  Sesame seeds were brought to America by African slaves.
  5. Do more than snap a photo of First African Baptist Church. Attend a Sunday Service. Sing the spirituals. See the church pews, hand carved by slaves.  Realize you’re at one important point in American history where the Underground Railroad was a reality during the Civil War/ Uncle Tom’s Cabin era.
  6. Visit a few Savannah squares where Black history was made. On Greene Square is Second African Baptist Church where Union General William T. Sherman announced the now-famous “40 acres and a mule” promise to freed slaves.   Madison Square is where General Sherman headquartered at Greene-Meldrim House, owned by Englishman Charles Green. By 1850, Greene built the most elaborate house in Savannah and he offered his home as temporary residence, part of the enticement for Union troops not to burn Savannah. Schedule a walk-in tour.  The Olde Pink House restaurant on Reynolds Square is another majestic Savannah home, temporarily used as “Yankee” officer quarters during the Civil War occupation of Savannah – December 21, 1864 until early in 1965.
  7. Enjoy southern, Low Country food inspired by African American ingenuityHush Puppies (a fritter made from corn meal) and Deviled Crab found at Uncle Bubba’s.  Take in a cooking class with Chef Joe Randall,one of America’s most respected African-American Chefs, featured on “Georgia Traveler”and author of “A Taste of Heritage”, authentic African American cuisine.  At Olde Pink House the American red snapper special with gumbo flavored risotto is a favorite.  Okra is another crop brought to America by enslaved Africans.
  8. Visit the African American Monument located on Rousakis Plaza, River Street. Depicting an African family, the Monument commemorates and honors contributions of African Americans to the cultural, social, educational, economic and spiritual life of the Savannah community.
  9. Boat out to Ossabaw Islandfor an educational tour. Slaves escaped to Georgia’s Barrier Islands and resided as farmers, fishermen, and artisans after Emancipation. Remnants of slave cabins remain on this Heritage Preserve, owned by the State of Georgia.
  10. Check out a time to visit the Pin Point Heritage Museum. The little community of Pin Point is “a Gullah/Geechee enclave founded by first-generation freedmen where family, religion and work were deeply connected to the water”, reads the new web site description.  There is an historical connection here to the freed slaves of Ossabaw Island. And, Pin Point is home to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

We hope you will want to visit Savannah, Georgia, and discover the Black Heritage legacy that is wrapped in a timeline of nearly three hundred years. It is a time and place where Africans began life in America as slaves.  Beyond farming the fields, African became in-demand skilled artisans, and provided entertainment – beginning in the Colonial-era and later launching the exciting age of Jazz and Blues.

Africans became the Gullah / Geechee settlers after the American Civil War. Today many notable citizens with African heritage serve in leadership in the City of Savannah.  Mayor Edna Jackson, an African American, is Mayor of Savannah.   A 4-day heritage-rich Savannah Black Heritage itinerary is provided by Visit Savannah, sharing more great places to visit and things to do.

Let innkeeper Diane McCray at Green Palm Inn know your interests for your Savannah visit in February 2013 or any time of the year.

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