Macon has been home to many notable African Americans, including musical artists who broke racial barriers in the popular music scene. Even during times of segregation, the African American community was extremely progressive and ingenious in their methods for bringing positive change. A favorite story among tourists and locals alike is that of Ellen Craft, whose light coloring allowed her to pass as a white man in order to escape from slavery. She eventually became a speaker on behalf of abolitionist efforts.
Charles Douglass, Macon’s first African American millionaire, opened the Douglass Theatre in 1921 and this elegant venue for the African American community had a significant impact on the music, art and culture of the city. Musical legends including Otis Redding, Bessie Smith, James Brown, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Little Richard all performed on stage at the Douglass. The Otis Redding Foundation is currently located on Cotton Street, which was historically a center of African American business. During the Civil Rights movement, local leaders worked to ensure peaceful change and even hosted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a speaker.
With a total of twenty-one African American historical sites to offer, Macon is a great starting point to explore this rich history. Visitors can also tour the Tubman Museum, which is not only an African American art, culture, and history museum, but a beautiful facility to host your next event at.