9 Places to Experience Black History in the Bay Area

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Now more than ever, it’s important to teach our young kids about the Black Americans who paved the way for civil rights in America. February is Black History Month, and we’ve rounded up some spots to visit (even virtually) to take a pause and learn about those that made those courageous efforts before us in the Bay Area. From museums to cultural centers, there are some great spots that teach, engage and inspire our youth. It’s all about setting the stage with the knowledge to make a positive impact on our country.

Richmond Art Center | Richmond

This beautiful art center has classes, exhibitions and events that cater to schools, community centers and the Richmond Public Library. For Black History Month, they have partnered with the Art of African Diaspora for an online event to highlight artist work with virtual open studios, artist talks and other events that are sure to be fun and educational for the whole family. You can enjoy this programming from Feb. 11-May 16. 

Online: richmondartcenter.org

Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) | San Francisco

MoAD, a contemporary art museum, celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora. This month, you can engage in activities like an art history crash course presented by California College of Arts professor Jacqueline Francis. She’ll be talking about the art and artists of the Black Atlantic with an emphasis on aesthetic objects produced by African or African-descended people over four sessions. Check the website for details on this and other programs. 

Online: moadsf.org

Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) | Oakland

While the museum is currently closed due to COVID, the Oakland Museum of California has instituted an OMCA at Home program with fun projects and seminars for families of all ages. Check out the virtual tour of the Black Power, an exhibition that explores the history of the Black Power movements in California and the Bay Area’s role. 

Online: museumca.org

African American Museum and Library at Oakland

This museum has been dedicated to discovering and sharing the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California. The second-floor museum regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions that highlight the art, history and culture of Black history. Check out their wide variety of online classes and special programming. 

Online: oaklandlibrary.org

Willie Mays Statue | San Francisco

Do you have a baseball fan at home? A trip to Oracle Park is already pretty awesome. It also hosts a statue of one of the most well-known baseball players. Willie Mays spent almost all of his 22-season Major League Baseball career playing for the San Francisco Giants. Learn about his history starting with the Negro American League and visit the statue on your next trip to San Francisco. While you're at the statue, get the kids to count the number of palm trees in Willie Mays Plaza. When they find 24 you see if they can guess that the 24 palm trees represents Mays' jersey number. 

Online: oraclepark.wordpress.ncsu.edu

The Presidio | San Francisco

A visit to the Presidio can teach kids about Buffalo Soldiers, the famous Black cavalrymen who  were stationed there from 1902-1903. The Presidio marks a key time in the history of the participation of Black people in the armed forces. They fought with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, fighting bandits and patrolling Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. 

Online: nps.gov

African American Arts and Culture Complex | San Francisco

A community-based organization with a mission to empower and connect through culture, the AAACC is a great place for our youth to learn about Black history. They are all about expression with art, education and special programs while supporting local Bay Area artists. Check out some of their virtual programming and exhibits like The Black Woman is God: Reclaim, Reconfigure, Re–Remember.

Online: aaacc.org

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Garden | San Francisco

Take in the vision of peace and unity at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. You’ll get to see his inspiring words, poems and images from the Civil Rights Movement surrounding a beautiful waterfall. 

Online: yerbabuenagardens.com

photo: iStock

Ralph D. House Community Park

In 2010, this park was named in honor of Ralph Dewitt House, a park champion who devoted himself to public service. House was a driving force and leader in ensuring open space in the Bayview community. House founded the Bayview Hill Neighborhood Association and was its president from 1985 through 2004. He volunteered his time tirelessly and empowered others to advocate for their communities. Be sure to visit this park soon and take in the beautiful views of the city's southeast. 

Online: sfrecpark.org

—Sandra Lee

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