I don’t pretend to be an expert on Savannah’s culture or history in the least amount. I do want to share my experience on this trip as it brought a new perspective that I didn’t quite get before in my past experience traveling here. Immediately you’re swept up in the wonderful choices of food, the accessibility to openly carrying alcohol on the street, the huge ferries, but most of all the black history here is phenomenal. If you want to dive into black history and learn more about the culture while you’re in Savannah it is quite easy and possible.
We visited the Railroad Museum for the first time and there was an exponential amount of information on black history. Blacks helped build the railroads and lived near where they worked which back then would be considered a plantation. After the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws were in effect so they had their own separate showers and bathrooms, and made a significant amount less than their white peers. Their labor was enforced by the government which means they couldn’t leave and if they tried there would be people looking for them.
MARITIME SHIPS MUSEUM
West Broad Street School piece of history was inside the Maritime Ships Museum. This school was a very important part of education in black history. During the 1860’s laws were implemented to lower the funding of black education. West Broad Street school accepted black girls and boys during 1873-1962. They were instructed to build ships as apart of their education. There was one teacher for each of the eight grades which by the 20th century included a school average of 600-800 children. The black children with less resources and access to teachers excelled and were more advanced than their white counterparts; this prompted whites to cut funding for the school to lower the quality of the black students it was producing.
If you ever get around to visiting the river walk you will notice a monument in the Square of a black family with chains around their feet representing emancipation. It was the first monument in Savannah to represent contributions made by African Americans. There is a quote by Maya Angelou that reads. “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.” What I understood her quote to mean is that through the suffering, slavery, and persecution, African American still found a way to stand.
The history I mentioned is not even close to all the information available in this city. It is definitely a learning opportunity for children as well as adults to expand knowledge on black history. The reason for traveling is not only to eat, go to the beach, and sleep in, but to dive into culture, experience, and live. Learning the history of the cities we are visiting not only expands our knowledge, but gives us a sense of appreciation for the people before us.
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