People, Power and Plantations
Antebellum Tuskegee and Macon County, Alabama was a bustling cultural and business center for a prosperous plantation economy. With a history of European settlements and colonies, the South, especially this area of Alabama, was dominated by descendants of Europeans who were captains of enterprises on land populated with numerous enslaved Africans. The Civil War ushered a change in lifestyle for all who remained in the area. A monument in the town square stands as a testament to days gone by.
Tuskegee and Macon County was spared some of the ravages of war. One of Alabama's finest late antebellum mansions is Grey Columns in Tuskegee. Built in 1857, Grey Columns is now the private residence of the president of Tuskegee University.
Votes, Race and Education
An Alabama legislative deal resulted in an education powerhouse that began in shanty dwellings and grew to become a symbol of African American achievement. Tuskegee Institute has produced leaders in agriculture, business, skilled trades, engineering, military, government, human and animal health-care professions, and academia.
Now Tuskegee University, 19th and 20th century living can be revisited in National Park Service managed historic site buildings of the George Washington Carver museum, and the Oaks - restored residence of visionary educator and leader, Booker T. Washington, who sought to improve the lot of African Americans and , by achieving that goal, elevated all of American society.
A Diverse People, A Diverse History
Our first gallery is the "Shared Heritage Gallery". This gallery takes you in a visually engaging journey through time to experience the shared area's Native American, European American, and African American cultures. Step back into "The Distant Past" and experience Macon County before the
arrival of Man.
The exhibit continues to progress through time moving forward to "The First Alabamians" and the "Discoveries and "Discoveries and Disturbances" that take place with the arrival of European explorers and enslaved Africans in a "New World". The "Struggle Surfaces" with the westward expansion of European settlers into Indian territories. The settlers have their own ideas about bureaucracy, and this move in expansion marks efforts to "Become A State". Conflicting views on slavery and other issues causes America to become "A Divided Land". War and social unrest - in turn - changes our region forever.
From the ashes of war, the governing bodies of Macon County and much of the South, while undermining the progress of African Americans, bring about an era of state sponsored discrimination and persecution. Undaunted, many African Americans in Tuskegee and Macon County managed not only to survive but thrive in this era of "Separate but Equal".