How to Celebrate and Support Black History Month in Seattle
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN SEATTLE
The intertwining history of Seattle's Black community reflects resilience, creativity, and cultural dynamism. Initially, distinct neighborhoods like East Madison and Yesler-Jackson emerged, eventually coalescing into the Central District (the CD). Today, various neighborhoods like the Central District, Hillman City, Columbia City, Rainier Valley and others remain vibrant hubs for Black businesses, arts, and culture.
For those who choose to honor Black heritage in the Seattle area, it's essential to actively engage with and support relevant, local activities and businesses: participating in local cultural events, visiting exhibits at institutions, like the Northwest African American Museum, and patronizing Black-owned businesses not only celebrates the contributions of Black Americans but also fosters a more inclusive and vibrant community. By amplifying voices, stories, and local talent, we strengthen the fabric of our city and enrich the lived experiences of all its residents.
Here are some key ways to celebrate Black history and culture in and around Seattle... this month and beyond:
Cultural Festivals and Social Events
Seattle boasts a vibrant array of Black cultural festivals and events, including Festival Sundiata, Umoja Fest, and the Earshot Jazz Festival, celebrating the city's Black American heritage through music, dance, film, and theater.
Black History Month Events to check out:
See a more extensive list of events on our Black History Month Community Calendar
Seattle's arts scene thrives with vibrant expressions of Black culture, from captivating exhibits at the Northwest African American Museum to soul-stirring performances at venues like the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Local museums, performances, and film festivals:
Eat, Drink and Shop
If you look hard enough, Seattle's got a decent variety of Black-owned spots for food, drinks, and shopping. From diverse eats to unique finds, it's all about soaking up the local vibe. Check out the flavors and vibes that make Black Seattle pop.
Some of our favorite establishments:
Jerk Shack pays tribute to classic Caribbean food thoughtfully cooked with care and modern technique. Come visit us and be transported to the Caribbean—taste the food, feel the music, enjoy the art, and experience the culture of the sun.
COMMUNION Restaurant & Bar is a place where you feel seen. A place that feels like comfort, rest, relief, and peace. Our mission is to provide the food, the familiarity, and the intimacy that make you feel at home.
Classic Eats menu provides something for everyone. Classic Eats strives to deliver a premier, but casual dining experience in both cuisine and ambience. Bring the family and enjoy a great Classic experience!
Soma Right Massage At Soma Right Massage, owner Tamikia Jones strives to change the perception that massages are a luxury service when they should be seen as a necessity.
City Sweats Dee Alams pioneered infrared sweat therapy in Seattle, introducing the city’s first infrared sauna to her fitness studio in 2010. Over the years, Dee has witnessed incredible client transformations, and dreams to make infrared therapy more accessible and convenient for all.
The London Lounge Founder and owner Bri Kraft traded her Hollywood modeling and dance career to open up a high-end salon providing six different kinds of facials, lash lifts, waxing, sugaring, and more that will have you feeling radiant and confident from head to toe.
Black Coffee Northwest is Black owned, family-owned, community-driven organization providing local youth with job training, mental health services & more. It's a place for people to step back from the daily hustle and enjoy an exceptional beverage.
Estelita’s Library is a gathering place for people to share space, knowledge, and a love of reading. Visit their library in South Seattle, or shop their curated selection online.
Cakes of Paradise The Sims family’s Cakes of Paradise Bakery offers a bright dash of Aloha to everything they make. From delicious tropical flavored cakes and pastries, to macadamia coffee, to their Hawaiian reggae soundtrack, Cakes of Paradise will remind you to chill out.
See a comprehensive list of Black-owned establishments on the Intentionalist website
BLACK HISTORY MONTH DETAILED:
Source: Seattle Municipal Archives
Washington State and Seattle began honoring Black History Month as part of "National Negro History Week" on February 6-12, 1927, sponsored by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (later the Association for the Study of African American History). In the early years, celebrations were sponsored annually by community and religious organizations in the local Black community including Mount Zion Baptist Church, the Seattle Urban League, Washington Federation of Colored Women’s Organizations, the local chapter of the NAACP, Christian Friends for Racial Equity, and the Washington State Council of Churches. On February 14, 1936, Mrs. Homer Harris hosted a celebration for Black History Week in collaboration with the Historical Society.
Notably, the Seattle Public Library collaborated with the Seattle Urban League as one of the first local government institutions to establish an annual tradition of hosting events celebrating Black Americans and the history of the Black community in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Urban League would procure artifacts, books, artwork and other educational materials created by Black Americans that were exhibited at the library and used in Seattle Public Schools curriculum. Since 1937, SPL has invited the public to celebrate by attending events including speakers, musical performances, film festivals/screenings, theatrical performances, authors, poets and historians. The first display of books was curated by Nettie J. Asberry, President of the Washington Federation of Colored Women's Organizations. In 1965, SPL's African-American collection was seeded by a donation of books from the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority to the Yesler Library branch in the Central District. In 1975, the branch was renamed Douglass-Truth in honor of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.
Mayor Gordon S. Clinton proclaimed "Negro History Week" the second week in February each year from 1959-1961. Mayor Braman declared February 12-20, 1966 the week to celebrate Black history in Seattle. The Mayor said that "the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History had take a leading role in acquainting" the community with the history of Black Americans. The Seattle Human Rights Commission promoted the proclamation in their February 1966 newsletter.
On February 6, 1995, the Seattle City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 29075 "proclaiming February, 1995 as African American History Month." Similarly on February 22, 2000, the Council passed Resolution 30124, "acknowledging Black History Month and celebrating the inestimable importance of African-Americans in American History." An annual proclamation by the Mayor and resolutions from City Council have continued since then.