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Contact: Mark Ard
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PRESS RELEASE: Florida Department of State Invites All to Celebrate The Florida Highwaymen at the 2024 Black History Arts and Culture Festival


Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd invites Floridians to commemorate Black History Month by celebrating the achievements of the 26 original Florida Highwaymen. This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Florida Highwaymen's induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. The Florida Highwaymen were also recipients of a Folk Heritage Award in 2020. The Department of State will host a series of events throughout the month of February to commemorate the achievements of Black Floridians and showcase the work of The Florida Highwaymen. The signature event is the third annual Black History Arts and Culture Festival scheduled for February 9, 2024, from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM at the Heritage Hall Auditorium in the R.A. Gray Building.

“From the iconic landscapes painted by The Florida Highwaymen to their enduring legacy, these talented artists have woven a rich tapestry in our state's history. Their works are displayed worldwide, including two in my own office, and serve as a reminder of the influence of these artists on Florida’s history and culture,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “During Black History Month, let's honor and celebrate the profound impact of the achievements of Black Floridians, like The Florida Highwaymen, whose contributions resonate far beyond our borders.”

James Gibson Highwayman Painting of a Royal Poinciana Tree. There is a banner over the painting that says, "Black History Arts and Culture Festival"

"Florida Highwaymen" is the collective name given to a small group of Black American painters from Ft. Pierce, Florida, who began painting Florida landscapes in the late 1950s and developed their own individual techniques, creating unique depictions of Florida's sunsets, waterscapes, marshes and inlets with raw beauty and charm.  Today, Florida Highwaymen paintings are widely sought by collectors all over the world and can be seen by the public at places like the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee, as well as the Highwaymen Trail in Fort Pierce. A group of the original Highwaymen are still active artists painting and selling their work. The Florida Highwaymen are remembered for their lasting impact. To learn more about the Florida Highwaymen, visit the Florida Artists Hall of Fame webpage and the Florida Folk Heritage Award webpage.

To commemorate the achievements of the Florida Highwaymen, the Florida Department of State is hosting a series of free events throughout the month of February.  See a list of events below, and for more information, visit


Signature Event

Friday, February 9, 2023, 5:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Black History Arts and Culture Festival, Florida Division of Arts and Culture and Florida Division of Historical Resources

Join the Florida Division of Arts and Culture for an exciting evening at The R. A. Gray Building celebrates the achievements of Black Floridians and showcases the rich tapestry of Black Arts and Artists in Florida. The event will feature live performances from Avis Berry and Revival, Ayoka Afrikan Drum and Dance, and The Omega Lamplighters' The Might Light Step Team.

Food and arts vendors will be on site to round out this creative, immersive experience!  


Other Events

  • February 10, 2nd Saturday Program, The Story of Fort Mose -- Celebrate Black History Month and learn about Florida’s historic Fort Mose, the first legally sanctioned free-Black settlement in what is now the United States, located near St. Augustine. Learn about the lives of its past residents and the impact of Fort Mose on Florida history. Guests will create their own tri-corn hat, representing those worn by Fort Mose’s soldiers.
  • February 10, Union Bank Museum Grand Opening --Join the Division of Historical Resources for the public opening of the Union Bank Museum. Learn about recent state-led restoration efforts, explore new exhibits, and discover how the Union Bank played a critical role in Tallahassee history. Guests can enjoy Union Bank related crafts and light refreshments. The program is free and open to the public.
  • February 14, Storytime at The Grove Museum -- Join The Grove Museum at 10:00am for children's Storytime featuring a reading of “I Am Enough" by Grace Byers. Storytime will be followed by a group art project. The program is FREE and open to the public! Storytime at The Grove is recommended for children ages 8 and younger. Parking is located at 902 N Monroe St. 
  • February 17, Nature & History Walk -- Join The Grove Museum for a guided walking tour of the site, focusing on the intersection of nature, culture, and history. In honor of Black History Month, February’s program will focus on what is known about the enslaved craftspeople who built the Call-Collins House and other antebellum structures in Tallahassee. The program will also touch on how African Americans shaped the natural and built environment of historical landscapes such as The Grove.  This is an informal program and guests can join or leave the walk at any time. Please wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to stand or walk for the majority of the tour. Visit the museum before or after the walk to enjoy exhibits from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. Parking for The Grove Museum is located at 902 N. Monroe St. 
  • February 24, Present in Spirit: Black Composers Recital -- The Grove Museum discusses musical traditions of the African Diaspora in Florida and Tallahassee with performances by Florida State University and Florida A&M University students and musicians. In honor of Black History Month and Tallahassee's Bicentennial, they will be performing adaptations of historical spirituals and works by Black composers such as Moses Hogan, Hall Johnson, William Grant Still, and Florence Price. This event is free and open to the public. Parking is located at 902 N. Monroe Street.
  • February 27, History at High Noon -- At 12:00 noon sharp, Dr. Reginald Ellis discusses the 136-year history of Florida A&M University. Founded in 1887, the University has achieved many successes and faced many struggles to become one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This presentation will discuss FAMU’s history and the major events, individuals, and broader historical trends that helped to shape its development and identity. Free, but reservations are required. Click here to register.


Throughout the month:

  • The Grove Museum offers guided tours on slavery and civil rights in American history. Grounds open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.  House open for tours Wednesday through Friday 1 pm to 4 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.  Free admission and parking. Visit for more information. 
  • The Museum of Florida History -- Through the Museum of Florida History Speakers Bureau, curators and staff members offer presentations on a variety of topics on Florida history and other museum-related subjects including "The Florida Highwaymen—Black American Landscape Painters."  Additionally, a collection of Florida Highwaymen paintings that includes one painting from each of the 26 Florida Highwaymen is on view in the ground-floor lobby of the Museum of Florida History in the R. A. Gray Building.  For more information and to schedule a presentation, click here. 
  • The State Library of Florida -- In the lobby of the State Library of Florida on the second floor of the R. A. Gray Building, visitors can view a display of books about the Florida Highwaymen. These books are available from the collections of The State Library of Florida which has been building the Florida history collection for over 150 years. Many of the items in the State Library of Florida are one-of-a-kind, making the Florida Collection one of the most unique and comprehensive collections in existence about Florida and Floridians.