Updated: Jul 7
Jacksonville, Florida, a place I never had on my list, a place I didn't know I needed, a place that fed my spirit, mind, and curiosity. A place where you walk in the footsteps of giants all while walking amongst them. A city rich with Black history and those with the passion to ensure it's not lost! A destination where the streets come alive and entrepreneurs thrive. Jacksonville is the PERFECT year-round destination for any traveler.
Eat: Jacksonville has a plethora of Black-owned restaurants, and all although we couldn't visit them all, here are the places I recommend.
Starving Liike Marvin: This restaurant was recommended to us by the staff of the Clara White Center. From the moment we walked in Marvin made sure we were taken care of. For me when I meet the owner it makes my experience more memorable and I loved learning his story. I had corn nuggets for the first time and before we knew it the line was out the door. They offer southern-cooked seafood for a great price with large portions.
Avenue Grill: When you want breakfast similar to the one your granny cooks, Avenue Grill is the place to be! For the past nine years, Cookie has been serving the ''Out East'' community of Jacksonville. Strategically placed on Florida Avenue this is the area where Black excellence is felt up and down the street! Great pricing and great food, I had the Salmon and grits and wanted more.
Shut Em Down : Don't go to Shut Em Down for lunch because you'd definitely have the itis going back to work after. That's how good Shut Em down is. When we arrived, the restaurant was packed. Mr.Thomas took care of us like he knew us, and the food was immaculate. With lunch specials and cookies to die for, it's one of those places you eat your food and wants to try something off someone else's plate too. With two locations in the city, its a great option when you want to be full.
The Potters House Soul Food Bistro : The Potters House was one of those restaurants that completely surprise you! We had no idea what we were about to walk into and when it was time to go we didn't want to leave. What we thought was a regular restaurant, was a restaurant situated at a Black-owned Kingdom Plaza mall! Never have I experienced a Black-owned mall, and that was a treat in itself! I love this restaurant for the portion size, price and staff. Bishop Vaughn is over Potter House Ministries and he was actually there! He came to speak to us, laughed and joked with us, made sure we were in great hands with Ms.Angie and I can never forget the love I experienced there. When Bishops are out in the community, so much that you can eat lunch with them says a lot about community impact and dedication. For me, I was so happy to eat there because they had multiple vegetable and grilled options.
Pink Salt Restaurant and Wine Bar : We decided to visit Pink Salt for dinner and am glad we did. This upscale Caribbean dining experience gives you jammed-packed flavor, vegan options, and great signature drinks. Please note it is not for children as spice is embedded into the ingredients.
Silkies Chicken and Champagne bar : When you talk about Black-owned Jacksonville, there's no way Silkies isn't a part of that conversation! Chef Kenny is a local legend and indeed is one of Oprah's chefs! A chef with an international palette, who has years in the game and
makes it all look so easy! Silkies menu is ridiculously delicious and the food presentation is superb. He let me try so many options and by the time I left, I was full beyond measure. The biscuits are superb, we're talking plantain ginger and turmeric, truffle gouda and chives, jalapeno cheddar, are you hungry yet? I could go on for hours about the food, and I loved it so much I bought two of his cookbooks! And I can't move on without mentioning the champagne flights! At one point I debated with myself whether or not to finish it because you can't waste champagne right? With lines out the door, get there early if you want to sit. There is a to-go option which works just as great and you can pick up when you're ready.
Learn: I learned so much in Jacksonville! My time wasn't enough and it's all the more reason for me to return. Important history is found throughout Jacksonville's streets, and those who are telling the story are truly my heroes.
Clara White Mission/Earth M. White Museum : Not all heroes wear capes! In fact, some are small older ladies with the biggest impact! Eartha M. White was an American humanitarian, philanthropist, and businesswoman. She single-handedly is the reason there was and continues to be so much good in the city. She is indeed a Jacksonville giant and she deserves to be celebrated like Dr.King and Malcolm X. The Clara White Mission, named after her mother, is the oldest Black-owned non-profit. Offering service to veterans and those impacted by homelessness daily every city should create a resource like this. Doubled as the Eartha M. White museum on the second floor you can pay homage to their lives by learning more about both women and their direct impact on Jacksonville. Located in the Lavilla neighborhood, down the street from the historic Stanton school this museum unlocks so many stories of Black excellence and triumph in Duval County. Its historian Ms.Adonnica is phenomenal and her knowledge of Ms.White is Netflix-worthy. It was definitely one of those moments when I wasn't ready to leave.
Explore JAX Core : An absolute MUST when visiting Jacksonville is this hop-on hop-off tour created and curated by the one and only Ms.Yolie Copeland. I was not ready for what I was about to experience. What I thought was just another Black history tour, retelling me things I already learned ended up being a life-changing, mindblowing experience that is forever embedded. Ms.Yolies knowledge of Jacksonville's Black history is exciting and sparks
the historian in you. With some things in plain sight, she is constantly unlocking new pieces to the puzzle and rediscovering history that is left out of the books! Through the tour you learn about Jacksonville's Black elite of the Sugarhill neighborhood, home ownership, and Black Millionaires like A.L.Lewis, Axehandle Saturday and it's brutal truth and so much more. Ms.Yolie is a perfect example of why opening a tourism business is crucial for our stories to be told. She taught me that it only takes 20 years, for history to be erased, and with gentrification and the entrants of highways, hospitals, and housing without this knowledge, you'd never know a playground is built on top of a Black cemetery. Until you go to that playground, and there, nestled in the corner is a cluster of headstones that prove these facts to be true. I highly recommend this tour, especially to those who are truth seekers. I couldn't have experienced better and I am so grateful I got to experience it!
Durkeeville historical society: One thing about Black History is that its rich and everlasting. The way Mr.Lloyd Washington is preserving it is outstanding! Durkeeville is a historically Black neighborhood of Jacksonville with a story of triumph and community. Originally only a place Black people could live due to redlining and zoning, Durkeeville was another mecca for Black excellence in Jacksonville. The tour starts at the then Durkeeville Baseball stadium, which is now J.P. Smalls stadium. Which also includes a museum dedicated to Negro League Baseball on the bottom floor. Often times when sharing our history it's filled with verbal stories that are passed down through generations, and the stories Mr.Washington could tell me made the tour come alive! Like that of the ''hole in the wall gang'' who'd make holes in the wall so people could watch the games or how Hank Aaron met his wife (who happens to be my brother-in-law's best friend's grandparents lol) right down the street from the stadium. He also shared the importance of Durkeeville as it pertained to jobs, the railroads, and community growth.
Community: There are so many community organizations and initiatives to support the Black Jacksonville residents. These are a few you can support while visiting.
White Harvest Farms : Food Sovereignty, Food Security, and Agricultural Training! Listen, as if Eartha White didn't do enough, she also had a farm that she dedicated back to the community. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.10.5 acres of land committed to the health and wealth of those in Jacksonville.
Black farms used to thrive but unfortunately, these days you can no longer find them in abundance, so I was grateful to know this one has been preserved. With a full community garden created to educate community members on farming and healthy food choices, they grow everything! I tried red okra for the first time and it was delicious! Everything is organic with no pesticides and their motto is ''We know it because we grow it''. As they say, what you plant will grow and they say their success on the farm is simple, they thrive because they let things grow! Not only do they produce plants for cooking and combating health issues like blood pressure and diabetes, but they also have beekeeping!
Seeing a Black Beekeeper was mind-blowing! Mika Hardison-Carr is the owner of The Herban Bee. The Herban Bee specializes in raw artisanal honey and honey-based products such as herbal honey infusions, soaps, and candles. The Herban Bee focuses on integrating beekeeping in urban neighborhoods and exposing disadvantaged communities to agriculture. I learned so much from her, like there's no I in bee! Like the female bee's are who runs the show, and the amazing program she's created to raise other Black beekeepers! And the honey she produces, whew! I bought all four!
Jax Melanin Market: Although we didn't get a chance to experience this amazing marketing place amplifying Black-owned businesses in Jacksonville, we did get to speak to the brains behind it Ms.Dawn Curling, read about it here
As you can see there's plenty to do in Black-owned Jacksonville! Don't forget to review the businesses in the app and upload your photos! Enjoy!