Located on the former site of Highwood Plantation, the Meek-Eaton Black Archives and Museum is a cultural resource in a city divided amongst racial lines. Situated on the campus of the illustrious Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), the museum states that its mission is to “collect, preserve, display and disseminate accurate and primary information about African Americans in Florida and people of African descent worldwide.” Offering patrons an experience that details more than just the oppression and enslavement of black people, through their permanent collection and programming, Meek-Eaton does just that.
During the territorial period, white planters from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia migrated to Tallahassee following the forced removal of Indigenous people from the area. An often overlooked period in Florida’s history, at this time, slavery served as the driving component of the territories and eventually state’s economy. According to Florida’s 1860 Census, during this period, 73% of Leon County’s population was composed of enslaved Africans. One of the many plantations prominent during the period, Highwood Plantation would eventually serve as the foundational grounds for an institution committed to the education and enlightenment of black people.
Originally located on Copeland Street, in 1891, the State Normal College for Colored Students (later renamed Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes (FAMC)
in 1909 and eventually Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University in 1953) moved to Highwood Plantation. Building a foundation of knowledge on a site built on oppression, the initial gallery spaces in the museum are devoted to the history of FAMU. Ranging from rooms dedicated to the university’s Presidents (past and present) to those that provide context on political protests held by students of the institution, the museum constructs a timeline that can be easily followed by patrons.
Highlighting the contributions of black citizens, specifically those associated with FAMU, to Tallahassee and the country at large, Meek-Eaton fulfills its mission to accurately preserve and display the history of this underrepresented group. More so, through this, the institution moves past the societal implication that all narratives surrounding Black/African-American people must be rooted in oppression.
Housed on the historic universities campus, the initial rooms in the space are dedicated to the history of FAMU. Ensuring that those who are guests of the space are knowledgeable about the university, viewers are greeted to information about the school and information pertaining to political and civil protests held by former Rattlers.
Essentially existing as an extension of FAMU, Meek-Eaton is able to directly engage with its audience, ensuring that its programing and collections remain current and continue to serve as a reflection of its viewing population. Utilized by the universities population, citizens of the city and beyond, the museum is one of the cities crowned jewels.
HOURS OF OPERATION
Free to the public, the museum is open Monday – Friday from 10 AM – 4 PM & 12 – 4 PM on Saturday.
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Daniel completed his undergraduate studies from Florida State University in 2017 and received a Bachelor of Art in the History & Criticism of Art (Art History). In 2018 he graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Master of Science in Museum Studies with a concentration in Practice and Theory.
Daniel is currently a Museum Educator & Collections Assistant at the Grove Museum and a Museum Assistant at the Gadsden Art Center & Museum.