SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Massie Heritage Center has launched a new program as part of its Black History month efforts.
The Massie Heritage Center highlights education across Georgia, and the newest exhibit, "Enslavement to Emancipation" focuses on the efforts to educate black Americans. Rachel Bradshaw works at the Massie Heritage Center and says the more they learned during research, employees knew they had to share it.
"It's always important to highlight all parts of Savannah's Heritage, but at Massie Heritage Center in particular, with this new exhibit that we've opened, we feel the responsibility to show all parts of Savannah's History, especially the lesser known parts," Bradshaw said.
The newest Massie Heritage Tour starts with a classroom lesson on different figures that established secret schools to educate slaves. It also highlights various efforts to educate newly freed slaves. One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Savannah integrated schools in 1963 with the group now known as the "Savannah Seven" who were selected to attend the all-white Savannah High School.
"Savannah really paved the way for education as a whole and for equal opportunities for education, and that began well before the Civil War. We try to highlight those struggles and those courageous pioneers in education in our exhibit and we continue to uncover those stories during the walking tour," Bradshaw said.
After the classroom segment, the program hits the road for the walking portion. The tour guides participants through multiple squares in downtown Savannah as they explain the various contributions of African Americans in Savannah.
Patt Gun, a participant, says it was impactful to learn more about the efforts of African Americans.
"We were not there during the Antebellum period, but to learn about it, and to acknowledge it, to reconcile and to heal from the damages of what happened with slavery through emancipation, I think it's wonderful," Gun said.
As participants walk the streets of downtown Savannah, we occasionally stopped to learn about the history of slaves in Georgia, the fight to educate newly freed slaves, and learn about artistic and culinary contributions. There is even a particular square that was once considered an "old negro burial ground." We don't want to give it all away, but people on the first tour including Caroline Cassinelli says she loved it.
"I thought it was really wonderful. I thought they did a really good job of balancing some of the past history of Savannah to more current figures," Cassinelli said.
The Massie Heritage Center will hold another "Enslavement to Emancipation" educational walking tour next Tuesday at 5 pm. Click here for more information.