The LaVilla Museum
is an African-American oriented museum in Jacksonville, Florida
. The facility is spacious, with over of exhibition space that houses a permanent exhibit of the history of African Americans in northeast Florida. It depicts scenes of everyday life and documents the past with photographs and artifacts. There is also a special presentation on native sons James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson called Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing
The gallery features a wide variety of exhibits including art and artifacts from several African countries, photographs by Aaron Mervin, paintings, ceramics and other visual arts. During Black History Month in February, the work of local artists is featured. The museum also provides educational programs for children and schools.
neighborhood of Jacksonville was the center of African American community after the Civil War. The area was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1901
but like the rest of Jacksonville, it was rebuilt. The Ritz Theatre was the center of a thriving, vibrant culture from 1921-1971, when LaVilla was known as the "Harlem of the South". More than a few entertainers played the Ritz before moving on to the Apollo Theater in the real Harlem area of New York. Most of LaVilla's small, clapboard "shotgun" houses (so called because you could fire a shotgun through the central hallway to the back room and not hit anything) have been torn down, but the Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum were rebuilt and are once again a center of the city's cultural life.