In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting the history, culture, and contribution of Black Americans that you may not have even realized were in your neighborhood. Black Americans have made important contributions to the Bay Area’s rich history and culture. Living here, you’ll find it everywhere – even places you wouldn’t expect.
Harlem of the West
The Fillmore District is flowing with an abundance of culture, especially when it comes to music. What many don’t know is that this neighborhood was once considered the “Harlem of the West.” At the end of World War II, the Fillmore District was the prime spot for Black entertainment and San Francisco’s growing jazz and blues culture. Many of the nightclubs that attracted stars like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane are no longer around, but the Boom Boom Room, opened by legendary bluesmen John Lee Hooker, is still standing. Stop by this blues hall that also promotes root music for a show or for their monthly Soul Train Revival.
Yerba Buena Gardens
The Yerba Buena Gardens of San Francisco aren’t just a grassy spot to sit for a shopping break outside Westfield Mall. You’ve heard it before, so take a moment to soak in the sounds of the waterfalls at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This time, stop to read his inspiring words inscribed on the glass panels.
Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash
Oakland Museum of California
Yes, The Oakland Museum of California in the heart of Oakland is the place you went on your elementary school field trip. But right now, there’s a feature about the Black Power movement and an exhibition about Oakland-icon Angela Davis’ legacy. Stop in to “investigate how we remember, preserve, and activate radical Black history” before it ends on June 11, 2023.
Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash
St. Regis Hotel
The St. Regis Hotel is known for being a swanky spot to grab a drink, but it’s also home to one of the only museums worldwide exclusively focused on the African Diaspora culture. The Museum of African Diaspora currently features The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, where you can view the work of 15 fashion photographers from all over the world. The exhibition, on display from now until March 5, 2023, displays work by Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer to shoot a cover story for American Vogue.
Oracle Park Stadium
Visiting Oracle Stadium for a baseball game or concert is an experience with epic views. Before you step into the ballpark, take a moment in Willie Mays Plaza to visit the bronze statue of Willie Mays. The nine-foot statue and 24 palm trees memorialize of one of the best all-around players in baseball history, and also happens to be one of the best meeting spots before a game.
Photo by Luke Zhang on Unsplash
It’s All Good Bakery
Walking into this bakery is like stepping into your grandmother’s kitchen. It’s nothing fancy, but the sweet smells and tastes of delicious desserts, like their 7-Up Lemon Pound Cake or sweet potato pie, are worth the trip to this historical spot. What makes this such a historically powerful location is that it’s the same place where the Black Panther Party opened their headquarters in 1966. Inside the bakery there is a memorabilia wall displaying posters paying homage to the Black Panthers and the work.
San Francisco City Hall
It’s hard to miss City Hall’s breathtaking dome, especially on a night when it’s lit up, as you walk through Hayes Valley or the Civic Center district. But did you know the National Historic Landmark is on a street named after Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, a civil rights leader (and physician, newspaper publisher, community activist, and more!) in San Francisco?
Take this month – and every month – to celebrate history from our great cities and share something new. You’ll get a new appreciation for your favorite places, with an excuse to go back again and again. Take a look!