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Welcome to the John G. Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture

About Riley Museum

The John Gilmore Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture, Inc. is a historical and cultural gem that sits at the bottom of a hill in downtown Tallahassee, at the corner of Meridian and Jefferson Streets.

Visit Riley Museum

The John Riley Center & Museum welcomes people of all ages to journey back in time to the Reconstruction era – one of the most significant, yet least known periods of American History following the end of the Civil War.


With your support we will be able to maintain our community enrichment programs and keep the historic Riley House open so that visitors near and far, can experience this Tallahassee treasure!




The Riley House was constructed circa 1890 on the fringe of a community called Smokey Hollow. Its owner, John Gilmore Riley, rose to prominence as an educator and civic leader. He received formal education from public and private institutions. Riley began his first teaching job in 1877 at a school in Wakulla County. In 1892 he became principal of the Lincoln Academy (located at 438 West Brevard Street in Tallahassee, Florida) where he served until his retirement in 1926

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New Publication

Power From Within: A History of African-American Education In Leon County, FL

Emancipation Through Desegregation 



The years from 1863 to 1968 represent a significant period in the history of Negro education in Leon County. Passage of the federal Reconstruction Act by Congress on March 2, 1867 for the first time allowed black men to participate in political conventions, the drafting of new state constitutions, and to hold public office. Dating to the period before slavery, it was education that sprang to the forefront as one of the most pressing issues of the day. From Emancipation and throughout the Civil Rights era, the thirst for knowledge has endured. African Americans took the reins of their destiny, and, against incredible odds, built the bridge to intellectual achievement. 


This book draws on the testimony of former teachers, principals and students who provided vivid accounts of their journey through this period of history in African American education. “Power From Within” seeks to highlight important contributions have been forgotten, overlooked, or given little recognition. 


The new book will be available August 2023.