Five destinations for fun-seekers

June 04, 2006|By ERICKA BLOUNT DANOIS | ERICKA BLOUNT DANOIS,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Summer vacation is just around the corner and for many African-Americans that means going to the beach, golfing or taking in cultural sites and festivals.

But this summer, time away from work or home will be limited, experts say. According to the Travel Industry Association of America in Washington, 38 percent of trips taken by African-Americans will be over just one or two nights.

Heritage tours: The area offers trolley tours of some of Savannah's many historical places.

You can see everything from the First African Baptist Church to the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

Most tours make note of such attractions, but "First in Heritage," a new brochure just published by the Savannah Convention & Visitors Bureau, exclusively touts the city's rich black history and makes it easy for visitors to absorb the African-American experience in, say, one trip.

If you go: Highlights include historic black churches:

First African Baptist Church, 23 Montgomery St., 912-233-6597 (tour times vary; call first). Many of the original pews bear the tribal markings of the African slaves who worshipped here. Air holes carved in the church's floor document the building's use as an Underground Railroad stop.

First Bryan Baptist Church, 575 W. Bryan St., 912-232-5526 (tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday). This church is among the oldest continuous African-American congregations in the United States. In 1789, founder Andrew Bryan bought his freedom. He later bought the freedom of his wife and daughter. The church museum is open to the public by appointment.

Second African Baptist Church, 123 Houston St., 912-233-6313 (tours 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Friday). Here, in 1865, Gen. Rufus Saxton publicly addressed former slaves and church members on Sherman's Field Order #15, otherwise known as "the 40 acres and a mule" proclamation.

To get the brochure, called "First in Heritage," go to savannahvisit.com or call 877- SAVANNAH.

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Staff writers Alison Kwan and Karlayne Parker and freelancer Cindy Stacy contributed to this story.

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unisun@baltsun.com

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