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Gig’s Black History Month Driving Tours

Northern California & Seattle

Black History Month is underway. It’s an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans. It’s also a chance to explore the communities where local heroes, past and present, have left their marks in Northern California & Seattle.   

Here are a few destinations and nearby Black-owned eateries to include in your driving tour:

Northern California

Mary Ellen Pleasant Park - 1699 Octavia St, San Francisco

Photo Courtesy of househistree.com

Once the site of Bell Mansion, a massive boarding house built for abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant. Pleasant, known as “the mother of civil rights in California,” brought the Underground Railroad to its western terminal in California and financed John Brown’s revolt. Her memorial plaque & eucalyptus grove is the smallest park in SF.  

Stop by Z Soul Cafe on Eddy St. for some amazing roasted lamb shank or lentil soup. 

The Presidio - 101 Montgomery St - San Francisco

Sitting on the grounds of a 200-year old military encampment, The Presidio was once the station of the Buffalo Soldiers, the famous brigade of Black soldiers that patrolled the ‘wild west’ in the early 20th century. 

Stop by Taqueria Los Mayas on Clement to pick up some ceviche or a burrito bowl for lunch. 

Black Panther Party HQ - 1048 Peralta St, Oakland

Photo Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of CA

At the intersection, there’s a two-story Victorian home* that was the original operations center of the Black Panther Party. Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and Elbert Howard, a mural remains at 14th St as a testament to the movement that sparked a revolution. 

Stop by Vegan Mob at 500 Lake Park Ave to pick up some delicious plant-based brisket or burgers for lunch.

*Please note, some of these locations are privately owned. Do not disturb residents or trespass.

Seattle

Hendrix Monument - Greenwood Memorial Park 

Jimi Hendirx monument Greenwood memorial park

Watch out for the crosstown traffic as you make your way to this shrine memorializing the birth city of the legend himself – Jimi Hendrix. “If you listen closely here, you may hear the wind cry 'Mary.'

Stop by the Angel City Deli (about 3 miles west) for fried catfish or their giant rib dinner plate. 

August Wilson Way - Lower Queen Anne

August Wilson Way, Seattle, Lower Queen Anne
Photo Courtesy of the Seattle Center

This monument to one of the most prolific playwrights of the 20th century can be found kitty-corner from the Pacific Northwest Ballet. A Seattle resident until his death in 2005, Wilson translated the Black experience to a mainstream audience with his 10 hit plays, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences (1985).

Stop by Toulose Petit on Queen Anne Ave for some wonderful N’Orleans fare, including duck confit and crawfish beignets.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial & Park 

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park, Seattle

In the center of MLK Memorial Park sits a black granite monument to Dr. King’s “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” speech he gave shortly before his final day in 1968.

Stop by The Original Philly’s about a half mile south on MLK Way for the best Philly-style cheesesteaks in town. 

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