Every February, the Historic Oakland Foundation offers FREE guided walking tours of Oakland Cemetery’s African American Grounds. The tours have become a Black History Month tradition in Atlanta.
In 2022, the tour has a theme of “We Shall Overcome: African American Stories from Civil War to Civil Rights” and it explores the lives and accomplishments of African-Americans in Atlanta.
These FREE tours sell out every year, so reserve your spot now!
The tours begin on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 17, 2022) and continue through February for Black History Month.
NOTE that Oakland Cemetery is also hosting an MLK Day of Service on Jan. 17th. You can help in the African-American Burial Grounds with planting, mulching, weeding, and general clean-up tasks. Please RSVP through the Facebook event page.
2022 tour dates:
* Monday, Jan. 17th — beginning at 1 p.m. and 1:05 p.m.
* Sunday, Feb. 6th — 1 p.m.
* Thursday, Feb. 10th — 1 p.m.
* Tuesday, Feb. 15th — 1 p.m.
* Saturday, Feb. 19th — 1 p.m.
* Sunday, Feb. 20th — 1 p.m.
* Saturday, Feb. 26th — 1 p.m.
On these walks, the guides tell fascinating stories that celebrate the lives of black heroes and heroines who have long gone unrecognized, as well as those with familiar names.
The hour-long tours begin at Oakland Cemetery’s Bell Tower. Please arrive a few minutes early to check in.
While the tours are free, advance registration is required via Eventbrite, and donations are greatly appreciated.
In past years, stops along the tour have included the final resting places of some of Atlanta’s black history pioneers, including:
- Carrie Steele Logan, founder of Atlanta’s first orphanage for African American children
- William Finch, one of Atlanta’s first African American city councilmen
- Bishop John W. Gaines and Julia A. Gaines, pastor and First Lady of Big Bethel A.M.E. Church
- Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor
About Oakland’s African American Grounds
Historic African-American burial traditions relied on natural grave markers like wood, shrubbery, or flowers — which have been lost through the passage of time. Since much of this section of Oakland is missing visual markers, the restoration effort that began in 2017 has been especially challenging.
Watch a six-minute documentary about Oakland Cemetery’s African-American Grounds
About the venue
Historic Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta’s oldest public park, and the final resting place for many notable citizens — including author Margaret Mitchell, former Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Ivan Allen, and sports legend Bobby Jones.
Less than a mile from downtown Atlanta, Oakland’s 48 acres are a treasure trove of history, gardens, sculpture, architecture, and ancient oaks and magnolias.
More Black History Month events:
(This list will continue to grow — so check back!)