Celebrate black history through music, art, culture, and more throughout St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches

Florida’s Historic Coast is well-known for its rich Spanish and British history, but it’s becoming even more recognized for its significant place in African American history. It spans centuries, from the arrival of black Spanish soldiers in the 16th century and the country’s original Underground Railroad in the 1700s to the birthplace of the first African American college graduate in 1824 to historic protests and sit-ins by Black activists including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s, paving the way for the Civil Rights Act. In February, Florida’s Historic Coast recognizes Black History Month with a host of events, programs and historic spaces.

Celebrate Black art at various galleries in St. Augustine. The Ovico Gallery, a space dedicated to showcasing contemporary African Art, is hosting their Black History Month Kickoff Event on Thursday, February 1, with fine art, live music, food and live poetry readings. Photographer and fine artist Lenny Foster transcends history with his photography that tells the story of historical black figures through a modern lens. His One Forty Four Gallery is a catalog of sublime moments translated into film.  

The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum at Flagler College hosts cultural and historical exhibitions to expand students’ artistic knowledge. Through February 21, the gallery will host “Golden Thread” by New York artist Ilana Harris-Babou. She will host an artist walkthrough on February 2. The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum then welcomes Artist-in-Residence Raheleh Filsoofi from through February 9.

Lectures, cultural events and museums offer an array of activities, from lectures to historical reenactments, for an immersive experience. Fort Mose Historic State Park, the first free Black settlement in the United States, recognizes the brave souls who made the perilous journey to Spanish La Florida with Flight to Freedom. Offered Thursday, February 1 through Saturday, February 3, the event features tours and culinary and military demonstrations. Head to downtown St. Augustine for the moving “I Lived Here, As Well – Together,” at the Ximenez-Fatio House. This historical performance offers a first-person perspective of an enslaved man and woman, from enslavement to freedom. This program is offered every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning beginning February 8 and continuing through the end of the month.

The Lincolnville neighborhood is the epicenter of Black history in St. Augustine. Visitors interested in its history can visit the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center or walk the ACCORD Freedom Trail Project, which consists of 31 historic markers located at various sites significant to the St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement. A cell phone audio tour is available by calling 904-335-3002.

The Flagler College Forum on Government and Public Policy Lecture Series is welcoming CNN National Reporter Arit John to the Virginia Room in Ringhaver Student Center at Flagler College on February 1 for an in-depth presentation on the upcoming presidential campaign.

Black musicians are taking center stage in the month of February! Café Eleven welcomes blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Selwyn Birchwood on February 2 and John Primer, former bandmaster and lead guitarist for the legendary Muddy Waters, on February 25. On February 3, the Romanza Collage Concert Series presents “Classically Black: Piano Compositions by Composers of African-American Descent,” a performance by Dr. Richard Alston, a virtuoso pianist and accomplished recitalist who combines music with cultural discussion about Black history.

The Fort Mose Jazz and Blues Series returns for two weekends, February 8 through February 17, and boasts performances by heavy hitters like Common, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Keb’ Mo’ and more. Live from the Waterworks, a series presented by the St. Johns Cultural Council and Gamble Rogers Music Festival, welcomes Grammy-nominated musician and songwriter Jontavious Willis on February 17 to the historic Waterworks venue.

Florida’s Historic Coast is a playground for foodies looking for unique and delicious experiences. In the extensive culinary landscape, there are plenty of Black chefs making their mark on the food scene. Executive Chef Denzel Aponte creates exquisite seafood specialties at The Reef Restaurant; the menu of Prohibition Kitchen features Southern comfort and bar dishes with a twist, crafted by Executive Chef Lashunta Harris and her team. Beloved local chef Tyrone Bennett is known for his philanthropy as much as his killer soul food at his food truck and brick and mortar, Heart and Soul Food EateryGrowers Alliance Café and Gift Shop sources fair trade, pesticide-free coffee from around the world, serving a selection of beverages, whole beans and healthy baked goods. And don’t miss the food trucks! Chef Ibrahim Mahem churns out delicious Tanzanian cuisine at his African Love Kitchen, while The T.R.E.N. in West Augustine, with chef Natalya Axen at the helm, delivers fried specialties and soul food classics.

Florida’s Historic Coast recognizes and celebrates our black heritage. Narrated tours, museumshistoric sitesspecial events, concerts and self-guided walking tours provide opportunities to experience the rich history of the black experience in the Oldest City throughout the year.

Plan a trip to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches today and see why the road to freedom runs right through Florida’s Historic Coast. 

Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra, the rural beauty of Hastings, Elkton, St. Johns, and 42 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. Visitor Information Centers are located at 10 Castillo Drive, St. Augustine; 200 Solana Rd. Suite B, Ponte Vedra Beach; and at the St. Johns County Beach Pier Park, 350 A1A Beach Blvd., St. Augustine Beach. For advance travel information call 1-800-653-2489 or go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau websites at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com or www.ViajaStAugustine.com.

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