AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE SITES

Heritage Sites

Northwest African American Museum
Photo by Jack Storms
Northwest African American Museum
2300 S Massachusetts Street, 206.518.6000
The historic Colman School is home to this museum, which explores the history, culture and art of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest. NAAM features exhibits and public programs, and serves as a community gathering place for events. Adjacent to the museum is Jimi Hendrix Park, honoring the musician's legacy.
Leif Erikson
© Linda Beaumont & Douglas Cooper, King County Courthouse Rotunda 2005. Photo by Spike Mafford, Public Art 4Culture
King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue, 206.296.0135
In 1986, the King County Council voted to change the namesake of King County, to commemorate the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rather than William Rufus DeVane King (Vice President under Franklin Pierce), for whom the county was originally named in 1852. In the historic King County Courthouse lobby, artist Linda Beaumont created a terrazzo and marble floor design titled Truth Crushed To The Earth Will Rise Again which celebrates the 1963 March on Washington.
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue, 206.654.3100
The Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery honors the legacy of these two renowned artists, and features contemporary artists of color. One of the great figurative painters of the 20th century, Lawrence joined the University of Washington School of Art faculty in 1971, and completed many of his later works such as the "Builder's Series" while living and teaching in Seattle. SAM also has an outstanding African art collection curated by Pam McClusky.
EMP Museum
Photo by Phil Whitehouse
EMP Museum
325 Fifth Avenue N at Seattle Center, 206.770.2700
Exhibits highlight African Americans and their contributions to music, pop culture and science fiction, including Jimi Hendrix: An Evolution of Sound, and Sound and Vision: Artists Tell their Stories, an exhibit with oral histories from music and science fiction greats.
August Wilson at Seattle Repertory Theatre
August Wilson, photo by Chris Bennion
Seattle Repertory Theatre
155 Mercer Street at Seattle Center, 206.443.2222
Playwright August Wilson presents an unparalleled vision of African American life in his ten-play Century Cycle. Several of these plays were written while Wilson resided in Seattle during the last 15 years of his life, where he worked closely with the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Mr. Wilson made his acting debut at the Rep in his 2003 one-man show How I Learned What I Learned, and an art installation outside the theater commemorates Wilson's long connection to the Rep.
Fort Lawton
Photo courtesy of Anthony Powell
Fort Lawton Historic District, Discovery Park
3801 Discovery Park Way, 206.386.4236
This former army base served as a point of embarkation during World War II, but its connection to African American heritage goes back to the early 20th century. Starting in 1909, the base was home to the 25th Infantry Regiment, one of four all-Black regiments in the U.S. military. These were known as "Buffalo Soldiers," a name conferred to the troops by Native Americans of the Great Plains.
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
Photo courtesy of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave N, 206.324.1126
MOHAI's permanent exhibits feature African American stories and experiences from throughout the city's history, including profiles of Black pioneers, artists and defense workers. . The Black Heritage Society of Washington's collection of photographs and archival materials are housed with MOHAI, and can be viewed by appointment.
Jimi Hendrix Statue
Photo by David Newman
Jimi Hendrix Statue
Broadway Avenue E and E Pine Street
A life-size bronze sculpture called "The Electric Lady Studio Guitar" by artist Daryl Smith depicts Jimi Hendrix playing a Stratocaster.
James Washington
James Washington, photo courtesy of the James & Janie Washington Foundation
James & Janie Washington Foundation
1816 - 26th Avenue, 206.709.4241
Renowned sculptor and painter James W. Washington Jr. came to the Seattle area in the 1940s and became associated with the Northwest School of visual artists. The Foundation celebrates Washington's lifetime works, and shares his vision of universal spirituality through the interpretation of his artwork, and preservation of his studio, home and garden. Tours are available by appointment. Washington's public art can also be viewed at several locations in Seattle.
Washington Hall
Photo by Holly Taylor
Washington Hall
153 – 14th Avenue, 206.316.7613
This historic venue hosted artists such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix and Billie Holiday, and served as a public dance hall. Built by the Danish Brotherhood, and long owned by the Sons of Haiti, Washington Hall is currently being restored by Historic Seattle, and it serves as an event space. Across the street the Squire Park P-Patch fence incorporates displays about neighborhood music history.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Park
Photo by Holly Taylor
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Park
2200 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Sculptor Robert Kelly created the park's black granite monument, which was inspired by King's "I've Been To The Mountaintop" speech given in Memphis the day before he was assassinated in 1968.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
Photo by Holly Taylor
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
104 – 17th Avenue S, 206.684.4757
Named in honor of an acclaimed poet of the Harlem Renaissance, this newly renovated former synagogue serves as a cultural performing arts center, offering classes, and hosting a variety of community arts events including dance, music, theater and film productions such as the African American Film Festival.
Ernestine Anderson
Ernestine Anderson, courtesy of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State
Jackson Street
from 1st Avenue to 23rd Avenue
Seattle's jazz scene thrived from the 1920s to the 1960s at clubs such as the Black & Tan and the Blue Note, where members of Local 493, the Negro Musicians' Union, played to packed houses night after night. Ray Charles, Ernestine Anderson and Quincy Jones got their start in Seattle's music scene, as well as Floyd Standifer, Patti Bown, Buddy Catlett and other distinguished musicians known locally and nationally. A sign at 12th Avenue and S Jackson Street, today the center of the Little Saigon neighborhood, commemorates Seattle's jazz history.

Venues such as Tula's, the New Orleans and Dimitriou's Jazz Alley carry on the tradition of those early clubs. More at www.seattlejazzscene.com

Seattle's Music Map provides an insider's guide to Seattle music history.
Columbia City
Photo by Holly Taylor
Columbia City Landmark District
Rainier Avenue S between S Alaska Street and S Hudson Street
Columbia City was established in the 1890s when the Rainier Avenue streetcar line was extended south from downtown Seattle. Housing developments such as Holly Park and Rainier Vista constructed nearby in the 1940s increased the neighborhood's ethnic diversity. African American entrepreneurs played key roles in Columbia City's preservation as a landmark district and its revitalization. A seasonal farmer's market and the first Friday BeatWalk, ethnic restaurants, art galleries, the Rainier Valley Cultural Center and the Rainier Valley Historical Society all contribute to the area's vitality.
African American WWII Rosies, courtesy of The Museum of Flight
WWII "Rosies" courtesy of The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way S, 206.764.5720
Long-term exhibit The Boeing Story includes experiences of African American men and women workers in Seattle during the World War II era. The Personal Courage Wing features the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the U.S. Army's first African American pilots, who flew in combat in Italy during WWII.

Did You Know?

Several city parks are named for prominent African Americans:
 

Homer Harris Park
at 2401 E Howell Street is named for a renowned athlete and physician. Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle
 

Flo Ware Park
at 28th Avenue S and S Jackson Street is named for a Central Area activist dedicated to social change.
 Photo by Holly Taylor
 

Powell Barnett Park
at 352 Martin Luther King Jr. Way commemorates a pioneering coal miner and community leader.
 Photo by David Newman
 

Sam Smith Park
at 1400 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S honors the first African American elected to the Seattle City Council. 
 Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle

Learn More

Image at top: Games by Jacob Lawrence
 

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