If you are looking to explore Seattle's Black history with your kids, we've gathered up a bunch of our favorite museums, parks and more.Less
25 years in the making, NAAM opened its doors to the public in 2008. Since then, its staff has educated visitors on the experiences of African Americans in the Northwest through art, music, craft, literature and history exhibits. Even the building itself—the former Colman School—is an important artifact. It was the first Seattle school to admit Black students.
Just outside NAAM, families will find Jimi Hendrix Park, a wide-open space that includes grassy fields, paved pathways and art that honors the groundbreaking, Seattle-born musician. While the park is a great spot to spy Hendrix lyrics and enjoy a picnic, families can head to the newly re-opened MoPOP to get the full story on Jimi and other important African American musicians.
Wa Na Wari, or “our home,” opened its doors in 2019 as a hub for Black art and culture in the Central District. It's a place to enjoy art exhibits, concerts, film screenings for local community and families. The home it’s housed in has been owned by the same family for five generations, and turning it into an artists’ space has allowed the property to remain Black-owned amid Seattle’s rising housing costs.
Although you might not pay attention to the names of the city parks and playgrounds you frequent, now is a good time to add a brief history lesson to your play time at one of several parks that honor African Americans who called Seattle home. One of our faves is Alice Ball Park, named after Seattle-born chemist, Alice Ball, who developed a treatment for leprosy.
Families can also head to Flo Ware Park, named after this community activist who fought for educational equity and organized Seattleites to join the Poor People’s March in Washington, D.C. in the '60s.
SAM re-opens to the public on March 5, 2021, the same day the new Jacob Lawrence exhibit begins. Lawrence and his wife, artist Gwendolyn Knight, moved to Seattle in the 1970s when Lawrence accepted a teaching position at UW. The new exhibit gives visitors a chance to see Lawrence’s 30-panel series, Struggle… From the History of the American People together again for the first time since 1958.
While you’re in Capitol Hill, stop by Seattle’s first Black church—First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME). The church was established in 1886, and churchgoers held Sunday School at various members’ homes. It was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1984.
Pick up dinner from Communion in the new Liberty Bank Building and learn about the first Black-owned bank in Seattle. The Liberty Bank opened in 1968 on 24th Ave. & E. Union Street. It was an important resource for African Americans who were denied loans from Seattle’s mainstream banks that followed redlining practices. The courtyard plaque can fill you in on the whole story.
Hosts of the annual Seattle Black Film Festival, the non-profit, Langston, works to promote Black brilliance in the Seattle art scene. Another hub for creativity in a city that boasts many, families can find virtual programming that includes a Fade to Black film series, book launches and more while the center is currently closed to visitors.