Several sites in Columbus are included in a new bi-state Black History Tour throughout Georgia and South Carolina.
The sites in Columbus are:
Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, 815 Sixth Ave. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an audience of more than 1,000 people there in 1958 during his first year as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Ma Rainey House, 805 Fifth Ave. Rainey, known as the “Mother of the Blues,” lived in this house, which now is a museum honoring the influential singer. The Recording Academy awarded her a lifetime Grammy in 2023.
Liberty Theatre Cultural Center, 813 Eighth Ave. This was a venue for Black performers during segregation. Now, the theater hosts various events promoting and preserving African-American culture and history.
St. James AME Church, 1002 Sixth Ave. This historic church has been a spiritual and social center for the civil rights movement.
Battle of Columbus Battlefield, at 14th Street Pedestrian Bridge. This is considered the site of the last significant land battle in the Civil War.
1828 Cemetery, 629 Sixth Ave. From 1828 to 1836, it was the city’s first official cemetery for slaves and freed persons of color.
“Throughout the history of our city, African Americans have played a significant role in the growth and development of this city,” VisitColumbusGA president and CEO Peter Bowden said in a news release. “Individuals, landmarks, churches, schools and structures are living testimonials of the proud achievements of the Black citizens of Columbus. Being able to showcase these venues as part of this bi-state tour is indeed an honor and a great way for visitors and locals to learn more.”
In fiscal year 2023, more than 1.9 million visitors came to Columbus, generating an estimated $381 million in economic impact, including 4,696 jobs totaling $159 million in payroll and $26 million in lodging and sales tax for the city, according to VisitColumbusGA.
AAA produced a free EV Road Trip Guide to educate drivers about electric vehicle ownership while exploring historic civil rights sites in Georgia and South Carolina.
Only 2% of EV buyers are from Black or Brown communities, according to AAA.
AAA Georgia public affairs director Garrett Townsend mentioned two major concerns preventing drivers from switching to EVs:
Range anxiety, meaning whether their vehicle will have enough charging power to get to their destination.
Lack of knowledge about EV infrastructure, meaning not knowing where public stations are to charge their vehicles.
“With the AAA EV Road Trip Guide, we’ve accomplished those two things,” he said. “We can really help people to appreciate, hopefully ease their fears that they can go to these historical sites throughout the state of Georgia (by driving an EV).”
The six sites in Columbus on the AAA Black History Tour are among the 30 sites on the city’s Black Heritage Trail.
“Columbus would not exist the way it does today without the African-American culture and the contribution of many in the Black community,” said Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson. “… During Black History Month and really here in Columbus, we aspire to celebrate those contributions all yearlong — because they’re not just Black history; they’re Columbus history.”