On the third day of my visit Tallahassee, we made our way to Riley House. Located on Jefferson Street, Riley House was constructed in 1890 on the outside of a community called Smokey Hollow.
John Riley, the buildings namesake, received formal education from both private and public institutions and later became known as an educator, and important civic leader. After receiving his first teaching job in 1877 at a school in Wakulla county, he moved on to become the principal of Lincoln Academy in 1892 where he served until his retirement in 1926.
The museum itself offers a timeline into the life of John G. Riley and who served as an educator for 49 years before his retirement. He went on to serve as the Grand Priest of the Royal Arch of Masons, an African American fraternal organization.
At the turn of the century, Riley was also one of the few African Americans in the area to own property, buying 7 major downtown parcels of land, one of which he would build his home on. The Riley House still stands today as a legacy of African American community that emerged during his lifetime and the only remaining home left in Smokey Hallow.
In 1996, the Riley House became the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture. The center is so vital today. Like many of museums in the area, it offers an insight into African American history that is not spoken of in textbooks across America and is the responsibility of the museums to share those stories, along with community members to young generations.
The Museum of African American History and Culture is open to the public Mon-Thurs from 10am until 4pm and Fri-Sat 10am until 2pm. The current exhibit that is open to visitors is the African American Espionage During the Civil War and will be available for viewing from May until August of 2015.
Also, the Smokey Hallow Commemoration at Cascade Park is under construction. The park will be used as a memorial to the families who were forced to move out of their home and community in the 1960’s. The community was founded over 120 years ago and will rejoin the community by the end of the summer.
If you are planning an upcoming visit to Tallahassee, the John G. Riley Center/Museum is a necessary stop in your travel itinerary. The cultural history your family will learn regarding African American Heritage is a crucial part of American history that should not be forgotten.
The next stop on my tour was the Sarasota Slim Show at Bradford Blues Club. The Bradford Blues Club is one of America’s last remaining “juke joints”. The BBC has an uptempo atmosphere and the best blues has to offer. It’s surrounded by exquisite oak trees which takes you down a long dirt road before arriving at the cinder block blues club.
The BBC has a different artist come play for visitors every week and different touring acts throughout the weekend. Club appearances in the past include Jimmy Rogers, Sandra Hall, B.B King, Eddie Kirkland and more. With legends like those having been in attendance in the past, how can the BBC be anything but the best?