Situated in the heart of sunny Southern California, Los Angeles is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Ever since the cities founding in 1781, the African American presence has grown and flourished, greatly influencing not only the city of Los Angeles, but making a tremendous impact on the rest of the country and around the world.
Each February, African American culture is the focus during Black History Month. In Los Angeles, the month-long celebration is hosted by various cultural institutions throughout the city. Events are held at several places including the California African-American Museum in Exposition Park and the annual Pan African Film & Art Festival.
But for those seeking to learn and experience what African American culture is all about in Los Angeles there is no need to wait until February comes around. The culture is there any time of the year and there are places to go where one can experience it.
There’s the Watts Coffee House which is located just a short walk from the 103rd Street / Watts Towers Station of the Metro Rail Blue Line. Here, one can enjoy a good cup of coffee at a unique coffee shop that serves as a community hub for locals who enjoy delicious soul food surrounded by walls that are covered in African American-themed movie posters, jazz album covers, and other items from South L.A.’s rich cultural history.
Only a half mile from the Watts Coffee House are the world-famous Watts Towers. The monumental sculpture was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990, and has become point of pride for the community, hosting events such as the annual Day of the Drum Festival and the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival.
The African American Firefighter Museum is a place of interest that conserves and shares the heritage of pioneering African Americans in the fire service. Opened in 1997, the AAFM is housed in the former Fire Station 30 in South LA. The museum was originally dedicated to acknowledge the first 100 years of service by L.A.’s African American firefighters.
There are many other places around the city of Los Angeles where one can find reminders of African American culture.