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African American History Driving Tour

  • Main Street
  • Columbia, TN 38401
  • Overview

    This self-guided driving tour begins in downtown Columbia, where a large free African American population existed even before the Civil War. Here just north of the town square, lasting African American institutions first formed. For more than 200 years, African Americans helped shape Maury County history. At first, thousands of enslaved Tennesseans carried out demanding tasks in the fields, in the house, or in the trades as skilled craftsmen. They made clothes, tools, wagon wheels, and many other artisan goods sold both in Maury County and across the region. A small number of free African Americans carried out their own lives in an age of slavery. They established churches, cemeteries, and businesses. With emancipation and the end of slavery, African Americans rushed to create many more churches, schools, lodges, businesses, and cemeteries. These historic places and community institutions are everywhere across the county. They are living testaments to the change that occurred across Tennessee during the Civil War and Reconstruction years. They are also powerful reminders of the significance of African American history in Maury County and its continued importance today. (Unless the properties are open to the public, please respect property rights and view these places from the sidewalk or roadside.)