We've gathered up a few of our favorite San Diego museum exhibits, sculptures and historical sites that will spark discussions and enlighten young minds with history lessons about Black Americans.Less
Let the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspire your discussions as you walk down the promenade dedicated to him. It’s a 0.6 mile long walkway lined with 30 plaques engraved with his famous words. All along this path, you’ll find additional works of art and outdoor sculptures. It begins near Petco Park, runs through the Gaslamp Quarter and continues across from the Convention Center along the Children’s Park and ends at W. Market St.
This renovated water tower has become one of the most important multicultural art and event centers in San Diego. The walls inside and out are brightly covered in murals and flags to commemorate Egyptian, African and Indigenous Cultures’ important leaders and historical cultures. Their weekly family drumming, dance and other classes are on hold right now, but there are virtual events online from poetry, tribute bands, and a Malcom X birthday panel.
Head to the campus to check out the Sojourner Truth Statue. This famed sculpture was created by alumni and African American sculptor, Manuelita Brown. Sojourner was a suffragist and abolitionist who used the power of her words to stand up for women’s rights and combat slavery. You’ll find this sculpture near the Thurgood Marshall College on the UCSD campus.
Hotel Robinson (now the Julian Hotel) was built in 1897 by freed slave Albert Robinson, who came to California to start a new life. This is one of the first Black owned businesses in San Diego County and is now part of the National Register of Historic Places. Today it continues as a hotel now called the Julian Gold Rush Hotel and has been authentically restored to provide an ambiance of the history. This is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California.
Learn about African world history with a special focus on African-Spanish, African-Mexican and African-American heritage. You’ll find charts, timelines, carvings, weavings and more relics from ancient, colonial and current periods. There are study guides that overlap the California public school’s framework to better understand African cultural history and its impact throughout the world. The bookstore has a lot of books featuring San Diego Black pioneers and local Black history.
Schedule your library book pick-up here and you can learn and read about Malcolm X. You’ll find a large statue of the civil rights leader that’s sure to spark a discussion with your kids about what he stands for. Librarians can help you choose something that’s just right for your kids to read from their Special Collection of African Diaspora books, newspapers and magazines. It also features an African American Genealogy section if you have roots in your family to look up.
Search the new “Celebrate: Black History & Heritage” online exhibit at the San Diego History Center. It starts back in 1798 with their collection of historical documents and photos that record African American history in San Diego. This is a dynamic unfolding exhibition that’s not complete without on-going community involvement and "will be an ever-evolving exhibit."
Walk where the first African Americans lived and worked in San Diego and see how they helped shape the city. The first Black-owned businesses started along Market Street in the Gaslamp Quarter with hotels, a barber shop, a candy & sundries shop and a laundry service, among others. One of the most well known was the Douglas Hotel in 1920 (no longer there). It offered the first desegregated gathering place for black and white people for lodging, dining, dancing and entertainment.