FLORIDA NORTH STAR BLACK HERITAGE REGION
Building Legacy for Generations to Come
A Distinct Global Identity
The North Star Legacy Communities Collaborative is a consortium of CBOs, NGOs, academic institutions, faith-based organizations, and county/city governments that work in tandem to support and promote heritage tourism within and throughout the North Star Trail System.
The North Star Trail extends from the Panhandle of Florida to the tip of the the sea coast islands along the North Florida Keys. Over 170 years ago this string of tropical estuaries extended over 500 miles and was known as "the first and last stand" for the Underground Railroad, a flight to freedom, in La Florida. Leading up to the Civil War, there were seven counties in Northwest and Northeast Florida recorded as having contained the largest concentration of slave-owning plantations, yielding the largest crops of tobacco, cotton, and indigo within the entire country, including: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon (largest), Jefferson, Madison, Alachua, and Marion.
To build momentum the five counties of Jackson, Gadsden, Leon and Jefferson (Apalachee Region) and Madison (North Central Region) constitute the North Star Black Heritage Region (NSBHR).
Florida's Black Heritage story is one of hope, triumph, and victory in the midst of constant nuances (i.e., slavery, lynching, reconstruction, Jim Crow, wars/conflicts, institutional racial discrimination, and more recently the re-emergence of vocal Black hate speech and loss of life and well being due to COVID-19).
Our aim is to help educate the public to foster security, equal protect under the law and to collaboratively share our story, respectively. In an effort to offer a seed to germinate and flower for collective space for sustainability.
Throughout history Legacy Communities have served as a bridge offering critical resources to foster resiliency for Freedmen and Freedwomen.
Over the next five years the Region will expand to include all North Florida Counties where BLCs Exist. As well as integrate the Maroon communities and connect with the Florida Gullah Geechee communities.
BLCs are a collective and organic living museum of African American heritage. From the inception of slavery in Florida (1845), BLCs were covertly formed by the enslaved and freedmen on plantations but loosely organized to be invisible. These communities still exist although rapidly declining in population and geographic size.
The existence of BLCs was a critical driver keeping the formerly enslaved people on and near the plantations where they were once enslaved.
It is the reason that in present day descendants of former slaves still reside in the legacy communities and the institutions thereof established by their ancestors.
The Collaborative is working to repair breaches in the rib cages and fabrics of BLCs across NSBHR to reinvigorate use of practices, beliefs, values that inspired education attainment and entrepreneurship, prevented homeless and hunger, ensured care for the elderly and young, kept marriages together and established and maintained annual events, competitive activities, spiritual traditions, and home-going celebrations.
The function of BLCs then and now is as a rib cage and fabric that protect and connect, respectively allowing hope to germinate and flower for those under their umbrella and connected to them with space to build resilience.