The city pays tribute to Althemese Barnes – The Famuan

Althemese Barnes honored. Photo credit:

Local historians are at the heart of preservation in Tallahassee – and perhaps no more so than Althemese Barnes.

The city of Tallahassee recently recognized Barnes, an author, activist and conservative as well as a graduate of Florida A&M University, when it named part of Cascades Park in her honor.

Barnes is the founder and executive director of the Riley House Museum, which houses many artifacts of African-American history and serves as a research center for African-American history in downtown Tallahassee.

The city is dedicated to honoring citizens whose life’s work has been to preserve Tallahassee’s history.

“Tallahassee is a city that remembers its past while focusing on the future, a city that works to foster a strong sense of community. The dedication of Althemese Pemberton Barnes Park in Smokey Hollow supports this vision by honoring a Tallahassee who has spent decades of her life enshrining local history,” the city said in a news release.

Barnes’ work includes several oral histories and cultural development projects, historical publications, heritage trail maps, guidebooks and documentaries.

Mayor John Dailey proudly unveiled the plaque that commemorates Barnes.

“Ms. Barnes is a true treasure of Tallahassee. Her commitment to preserving Black history has taught us all so much and will have a profound impact on generations to come. Residents like Althemese make our neighborhoods special,” Dailey said.

Katie McCormick, chair of the John G. Riley Center board of trustees, also congratulated Barnes on the honor.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor today with the park’s renaming. It’s the sharing of resources that is central to Ms. Barnes’ career,” McCormick said.

Barnes gave a heartwarming acceptance speech thanking many for their support and years of dedication to Riley House.

“I called on other retirees to become volunteer ambassadors and help establish and grow the Black History Community Museum in Tallahassee. administration of Riley House to help put policies in place so that the doors to the house will open without a budget,” Barnes said.

Barnes left the crowd with a wise word that sums up how she got to where she is now, honored with a park in her name.

“When you see the wolf, you see the pack, but the strength of the wolf is in the pack,” Barnes said.

The new Althemese Pemberton Barnes Park in Smokey Hollow is within Cascades Park and is open to the public.

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