Heritage Trail to highlight La. Black culture

Grambling State University, perhaps best known as the home of the late coach Eddie Robinson, is one of the sites on the recently unveiled Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. “Diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu said as he gave details about the project. “Research shows that tourists want an authentic experience, and Louisiana can deliver an authentic experience.”

The African American Heritage Trail is a collection of 26 sites around the state that showcase the talents and culture of African Americans.

Sites on the first phase of the project were chosen for their historic and cultural significance and their current ability to cater to travelers and locals.

The Northeast Louisiana Delta African-American Heritage Museum in Monroe is on the trail. It features research materials on the 1960’s civil rights movement in Northeast Louisiana. It also showcases the works of artists Don Cincone, Bernard Menyweather and Agnes Hicks.

“It is especially exciting to be named a part of this prestigious trail as we get ready to start construction on our new museum,” said Lorraine Slacks, director of the Museum. “We have so much interest in the history of African Americans – our art, our unique culture and especially the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.”

The trail, one of only two in the nation, is a project of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and its Office of Tourism’s Product Development Section.

The trail will be expanded in future phases as existing sites’ abilities to cater to tourists are enhanced, and as new sites are identified.

“Louisiana is one of the top destinations for African-American travelers in the country,” Landrieu said. “Through this trail, we are linking together local museums, churches and cultural centers from across the state to tell Louisiana’s rich African American heritage story.”

The Hermione Museum in Tallulah, which showcases artifacts from the Civil War in its antebellum home, is also included on the trail.

“We do not feel as if any other museum in the state depicts the notable accomplishments of distinguished African Americans from our area better than we do at the Hermione Museum,” said Donna Ervin, president of the Madison Historical Society.

“We are especially proud of our exhibit on Madame C.J. Walker, the daughter of former slaves in Madison Parish, who became the nation’s first Black female millionaire. It’s a wonderful story.”

The history of African Americans in Louisiana “really is a story like no other,” said Monroe museum director Slacks, “and we can’t wait to tell it.