Honoring Black History Month in Seattle in 2023
A guide for how to make the most of Black History Month in the Emerald City
SEATTLE – Seattle is now a rich mosaic of culture that encompasses people from many backgrounds. Every Seattleite knows this is part of what makes our city truly special.
Black History Month in February is an opportunity for us all to recognize, honor, and celebrate the many ways in which our Black, African, and African American neighbors and communities contribute to the vibrancy and cultural depth of our city.
We invite you to check out the list below of ways to become involved this month and beyond in celebrating Black culture in Seattle.
- Northwest African American Museum (NAAM): Closed during the pandemic, NAAM re-opened to the public on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. Multiple events are slated for Black History Month, including an interactive story time, research and writing workshops, new art exhibits and a keynote address on Feb. 16 from Dr. Damion Thomas of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Located in the historic Colman School building, NAAM is grounded in a mission to “use heritage to heal,” aiming to preserve the connection of people of African descent to their home in the Pacific Northwest.
- Call to Conscience Black History Month Museum: This February, Rainier Avenue Radio will be converting the entire Columbia City Theater into the “Call to Conscience Black History Month Museum.” The museum will celebrate the achievements and the achievers of the Pacific Northwest while recognizing the Black excellence that shines in the region today. It will feature exhibits and installations by organizations like the Black Heritage Society of Washington, Tacoma’s Buffalo Soldier Museum and BlackPast.org. The museum runs Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and advance registration is encouraged.
- “History of Theatre”: Local actor, playwright, and A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) core company member Reginald André Jackson’s World Premiere production “History of Theatre” seeks to journey through 200 years of history to surface previously untold stories of African American theatre. The show is produced in partnership with The Hansberry Project, and is directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, founding artistic director of The Hansberry Project. “History of Theatre” runs now through Feb. 12. There is an opening night event on Feb. 2 featuring a special musical performance by Ben Hunter from NW Folklife along with a student gallery of artwork inspired by the show. On Feb. 7, enjoy “Real Talk- From Idea to Stage,” a making-of discussion moderated by Vivian Phillips with the creators of the show.
- Henry Exhibition from Nina Chanel Abney: Head to the Henry Art Gallery for an exhibition of Nina Chanel Abney’s work, “Fishing Was His Life.” Abney’s work includes paintings, prints, and large-scale murals with themes of politics, race, sexuality, and celebrity. Her exhibition at the Henry includes recent collages and new paintings centering the culture and commerce of fishing within the African American community. The exhibition runs through March 5.
- Town Hall Seattle Discussion: University of Washington – Bothell Professor Dan Berger will be speaking on February 1 to discuss his new book “Freedom: The Long History of Black Power through One Family’s Journey.” It examines the story of Zoharah Simmons and Michael Simmons: two unheralded, grassroots Black Power activists who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom.
- Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI): February 4- April 30, MOHAI presents an exhibit entitled “From the Ground Up: Black Architects and Designers,” shining a light on the many ways Black architects have shaped our cityscapes throughout history.
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP): MoPOP’s “Contact High” exhibition explores four decades of photography, from the late 1970s to today, documenting a revolution not just in music, but in politics, race relations, fashion, and culture. Through more than 170 iconic images of hip-hop’s most influential artists (Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Queen Latifah, Tupac and more) — including contact sheets that provide a rare glimpse into the creative process of a photo session.
- Seattle Center Armory: Visit the Seattle Center Armory for “A Seattle History Worth Preserving: Buffalo Soldiers Exhibit.” This display focuses on the immense contribution the heroic Black soldiers had serving in the United States military. With a focus on those who were stationed at Fort Lawton, now contained within Seattle’s own Discovery Park, this exhibit offers a look into often forgotten stories that are worthy of celebrating.
- Choose to support a Black-owned business: While the list of black-owned places to explore around town is vast (see below for resources to find a more extensive list of options), here are some notable places to patronize:
Additionally, Visit Seattle is proud to support Black lives and amplify their unique stories through a campaign we call I Know a Place. The video series follows notable Seattleites as they tell stories of the city and share their own perspectives about notable spots around the city. A few notable vignettes include:
- Seattle-based stage actor Nicholas Japaul Bernard bringing his best friend around the Emerald City.
- Seattle musician SassyBlack sharing her local favorites with her friend, artist Tyrell Shaw.
- Seattle Kraken announcer Everett “Fitz” Fitzhugh, the NHL’s first Black full-time team play-by-play announcer, showing his family around his favorite Seattle places.
And for further exploration, below are some additional resources:
- Black Business Directory: Find a Black-owned business to support by searching Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle’s directory of more than 90 local businesses.
- The Intentionalist: Explore Black-owned businesses by neighborhood through The Intentionalist’s guide.
- Wa Na Wari: Wa Na Wari is an immersive community art project that reclaims Black cultural space and makes a statement about the importance of Black land ownership in gentrified communities.
- LANGSTON: A Black arts and culture hub in Seattle, LANGSTON guides generative programs and community partnerships centering Black art, artists, and audiences and honors the ongoing legacy of Seattle’s Black Central Area.
For more information about Black History Month in Seattle, go to Visit Seattle’s webpage.
About Visit Seattle:
Visit Seattle has served as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Seattle and King County for more than 50 years. A 501(c)(6) organization, Visit Seattle enhances the economic prosperity of the region through global destination branding along with competitive programs and campaigns in leisure travel marketing, convention sales and overseas tourism development. Visit visitseattle.org.