Black History Month in California: Celebrating the Legacy and Richness of African American Culture
Traveling to California in February? What a beautiful month in our Golden "Melting Pot" State.
Black History Month is an important time to recognize and celebrate the legacy and richness of African American history in California. This month is a great opportunity to pay tribute to the African Americans who have made significant contributions to our state's culture, education, and overall history. From civil rights activists to entrepreneurs, Black History Month is an ideal time to recognize the unique contributions of African Americans in California and honor their invaluable influence on our society.
African-American Owned Eateries
Stream & Chill
One of Palm Spring's favorite places for a sweet treat, owned by entrepreneur Athalie LaPamuk. The rotating flavor line-up of ice cream includes unique offerings like sweet corn, ube and black sesame, along with more traditional favorites like macadamia nut, strawberry and bananas foster.
Hawkins House Of Burgers
A staple in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, Hawkins House Of Burgers has been serving up hot and tasty burgers since the 1940s. Started by one family, and now managed by their second-generation descendants, Hawkins House Of Burgers is a place for family and friends to come together for quality food and good company.
Hawkins House Of Burgers is known for their hefty burgers made with top-notch ingredients. Their Colossal Burger is piled high with pastrami, a fat burger patty, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard and mayo – it’s truly a sight to behold! In addition to burgers, they also have hot wings, chicken and waffles, catfish, salmon croquettes, tacos, hot dogs, chili dogs, burritos and an endearing breakfast menu featuring pancakes, French toast, and pork chops served with grits or homestyle potatoes.
A survivor of the Watts and Rodney King Riots, Hawkins House of Burgers has come to represent a symbol of resilience in the community. Open seven days a week and serving up something for everyone, it’s no wonder why Hawkins House of Burgers has become a beloved spot in South Central Los Angeles.
Sharon’s Creole Kitchen
Sharon Cunningham brings the flavors of her Louisiana childhood to Murrieta with Sharon’s Creole Kitchen. Cunningham learned the history and food of the Creole people by cooking with her mom, grandma and aunts. Today she serves up southern comforts like gumbo, jambalaya, fried chicken, po boys and more to travelers and locals in Riverside County.
For more than 20 years, Honey’s Kettle has been serving up the tastiest fried chicken in California. Founded by Compton native Vincent Williams, who first worked for Golden Bird, a renowned Black-owned fried chicken spot in Los Angeles in the '50s and '60s, Honey's Kettle has made a name for itself as a destination for fresh and delicious fried chicken.
At their two locations in Downtown and Culver City, Honey's Kettle serves up golden and crispy fried chicken alongside sides like sweet potato wedges, blueberry hotcakes, fresh coleslaw, and tangy pickles. On a hot day, cool off with their signature Blueberry Mint Ice Shaker Lemonade or, for a light dessert, try the aptly named Great Date Shake.
Whether you're looking for a hearty dinner or a tasty snack, Honey's Kettle is sure to satisfy your craving. Swing by either of their locations and experience the Southern comfort that Honey's Kettle is famous for.
Black Bottom Southern Kitchen
When you're in the mood for down-home Southern cuisine, look no further than Black Bottom Southern Kitchen. Located at the intersection of Lankershim and Vineland, this restaurant is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palates. With a menu that encompasses 400 years of recipes, the possibilities are nearly endless. Try the St. Louis-Style Ribs, Smoked Brisket, or Charleston-Style Shrimp and Grits. Don't forget to try the signature sides such as Mac and Cheese, Southern Greens, Not Yo Mama's Coleslaw, Baked Beans, and Jalapeno Cornbread. Quench your thirst with Front Porch Lemonade, a Sorrel Drink with fresh-picked hibiscus flowers, or California Soul Sweet Tea. For dessert, savor a slice of Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding, Buttermilk Pie, or Sweet Potato Pie. Come by Black Bottom Southern Kitchen and experience an unforgettable taste of the South!
The Memphis Grill
The Memphis Grill is one of the most interesting barbecue restaurants to open in Los Angeles in recent years. They specialize in Memphis-style ‘cue, offering brisket, pulled pork, tri-tip, baby back ribs, and hot links by the pound. The flavor profile at The Memphis Grill stands out due to their heavy use of a dry rub that can contain up to 40 spices! The restaurant's menu also includes classic Southern sides such as mac and cheese, collard greens, baked beans, and potato salad.
The Memphis Grill has been a hit among locals who are searching for a true taste of Memphis-style BBQ right here in LA. The owners have plans to introduce in-person dining soon, but for now, customers can get their hands on some finger-licking good ‘cue with their takeout orders. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of the South without having to leave town, The Memphis Grill is definitely worth a visit.
Street Soul Favorites
Ron Suel founded San Diego’s oldest African-American restaurant when he opened StreetCar Merchants Chicken Bar in North Park in 2013. Since then, the restaurateur has added SuckerFree, serving southern staples in the Gaslamp Quarter and Shotcaller in Southeast San Diego, offering soul rolls, tacos and tots.
This is an unusual vegan restaurant located in Los Angeles, opened by chef and owner Tezeta “Tete” Alemayehu in 2021. This two-level restaurant boasts a beautiful streetside patio and is quickly gaining traction for its vibrant Ethiopian-inspired vegan dishes.
Visitors can indulge in delectable treats such as the Black Seed Blueberry Teff Pancake served with a tofu scramble and breakfast potatoes; a hearty Rosemary Root Salad complete with celery, red onion, potato, beets, carrots, turnips, creamy cilantro sauce and fresh lemon; and Shiro, a clay pot garbanzo stew.
For those looking to experience something truly unique, Berbere is the perfect place to go. The flavorful vegan dishes serve up a delicious experience with each bite and will leave visitors coming back time and time again. So come experience the world of vegan cuisine at Berbere!
Fixins Soul Kitchen
Fixins Soul Kitchen is an African-American-owned restaurant located in the bustling L.A. LIVE complex in Sacramento, California. Owned by former NBA All-Star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife Michelle, Fixins opened its first location as a celebration of African American cuisine and culture. With 6,800-square-feet and over 250 seats available, Fixins is the perfect spot to grab a bite before or after a game at Crypto.com arena.
Diners can indulge in delicious soul food dishes such as oxtails bathed in a sweet garlic brown gravy, 24-hour-brined fried chicken and waffles, and collard greens with turkey necks. Sides include candied yams, mac and cheese, and more. The cocktail menu is also noteworthy, featuring Adult Kool-Aid made with Ciroc, Sprite, and Kool-Aid ice cubes, and a New Orleans Sweet Tea spiked with Evan Williams Bourbon.
With its rich African American culture and delectable soul food dishes, Fixins Soul Kitchen is the ideal place for visitors to experience all that the city of Sacramento has to offer.
African-American Owned Wineries
This winery has 4 wine tasting rooms across Southern California in Laguna Beach, Solvang, and Buellton. It is the only black-owned winery in both Santa Barbara and Orange County. All locations are "hip" modern industrial luxury tasting lounges that are a cross between a New York "Soho" music venue and a "Napa Valley" tasting venue. Featuring crisp whites, smooth reds, and creative blends, McClain is constantly creating 90+ point wines. The brand's focus is on the experience, the story behind the wine, and the joy the guest engages when visiting one of the locations. More information available at https://www.mcclaincellars.com.
Known in the industry as Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards, attorney Theodora Lee founded Theopolis Vineyards in Anderson Valley in 2003. Its first vintage scored 94-96 by the illustrious critic Robert Parker. The Mendocino boutique winery is known for its Petite Sirah.
Baker Family Wines
Former MLB player and manager Dusty Baker retired from the baseball field to the grape fields, teaming up with winemaker Chik Brenneman to create Baker Family Wines, an urban winery in Sacramento. The handcrafted, small-batch wines are sourced from Northern California grapes. Don’t miss trying the Syrah, the winery’s first homerun.
Free Range Flower Winery
Do you prefer red or white or…flowers? At San Francisco’s Free Range Flower Winery winemaker Aaliyah Nitoto makes award-winning wine from locally-sourced organic flowers. The current portfolio includes RoseHybiscus, Marigold and “L” Lavender Sparkling.
This is a small lot vineyard and hand-crafted winery located in California’s prestigious Yorkville Highlands of the Anderson Valley. Situated along Highway 128 in southeastern Mendocino County near the border of Sonoma County, the AVA is a highly elevated, rugged interior wine-growing area. Established in 2003, Wine Critic Robert Parker bestowed upon wine made from grapes harvested from Theopolis Vineyards a stellar rating of 94-96 points, a spectacular showing for the vintner’s first harvest in 2006.
African-American Tours and Museums
From the USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles honoring Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. to the 38th Annual Black History Month Exhibit at Seaside City Hall to guided tours of the Black Panthers birthplace in Oakland, there is no shortage of tours and museums celebrating African-American history in California. Whether you’re interested in artistic expression, food, or a walking tour of historic locations, you’ll find something to enjoy.
The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco celebrates Black History Month with an in-depth look into the show, The Proud Family, with creator and executive producer Bruce W. Smith and executive producer Ralph Farquhar, as they discuss how they have revived the show for the new generation of Disney+ viewers. For visitors unable to make the event, join the Walk Disney Family Museum online for a virtual story time with author Clothilde Ewing as she reads her book Stella Keeps the Sun Up.
Led by Dr. Saturu Ned, an original member of the Black Panthers, travelers to the Party’s birthplace in Oakland will learn about its history on a walking tour of historic locations in downtown. For a more lighthearted tour, join Black Food Tours on one of three food tours highlighting Black chefs and cuisine in the city.
Visitors to Seaside in Monterey County can view works by local Black artists working in all mediums at the 38th Annual Black History Month Exhibit on display at the Seaside City Hall. Afterward, pop into the Black-owned craft brewery Post No Bills to sample a local brew.
USS Iowa Museum
The USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles honors Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr., the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps. Gravely was the first African American to command a warship and the first to become an Admiral and then Vice Admiral. Early in his career, he served on the USS Iowa as a radio specialist during the Korean war.
African-American History Celebrations
Pasadena Black History Parade & Festival
Slated for February 18, 2023, the Pasadena Black History Parade is one of California’s largest and longest-running parades celebrating the month. After the parade, a festival featuring bands, dance performances, speakers, and food will take place at the city’s Jackie Robinson Park.
OC Black History Parade
Celebrating its 43rd anniversary on February 4, 2023, the Orange County Black History Parade and Unity Festival honors the rich history and contributions of Black culture to the area. The parade in Anaheim will see a lineup of floats, marching bands and notable hosts. The Unity Festival brings together Black-owned businesses and vendors, entertainment and food. Highlights include a car and bike show and a break dance contest.
San Diego Black Film Festival
The San Diego Black Film Festival is the longest running film festival of its kind, established in 2001. The festival includes world premieres and sneak peeks of independent African-American films from around the country. A variety of educational workshops and events, such as the In Conversation With panel, round out the schedule of events.
Inland Empire Black History Parade
The Inland Empire Black History Parade is held in Riverside on the second Saturday of February and celebrates African American culture through music, dance, floats and more. It's been running since 1993 and is the only parade of its kind in the Inland Empire area. It also features a beauty pageant and family fun zone.
Los Angeles African American Heritage Festival
The Los Angeles African American Heritage Festival takes place every year on the first Saturday in March at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It celebrates the contributions of African Americans throughout history with live entertainment, food vendors, and art exhibits. There are also cultural workshops, career fairs and business networking opportunities.
More Than a Month
The San Francisco Public Library celebrates African American accomplishments starting Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and throughout the year as its More Than a Month program puts the focus on black leaders and change-makers in the city and beyond. The artwork for this year’s celebration is an image of Dr. Maya Angelou, drawn by local artist Lava Thomas. It will be installed near the Larkin Street entrance of the Main Library.
Written by Billboard charting artist Griot B, OURstory, the Black History Musical in downtown Fresno takes theatergoers on a history of the African-American experience not taught in school. The special event takes place on February 3, 2023, at the Saroyan Theatre in Fresno. You will leave this show educated, uplifted and entertained.
Aquarium of the Pacific's 21st Annual African American Festival
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, will host its twenty-first annual African American Festival. The event features music, dance, storytelling, historical displays, and the Aquarium’s Heritage Award ceremony. The Aquarium will also announce and celebrate the recipients of its 2023 African American Scholar Program.