More than a month: These 7 destinations elevate Black culture year-round
While Americans typically commemorate Black achievements and historical challenges during Black History Month in February, African Americans have made contributions that can be celebrated in destinations across the country year-round.
Okmulgee, Oklahoma, for example, is a city about 40 minutes south of Tulsa that boasts the Okmulgee Invitational Rodeo, the nation’s oldest continuously held Black rodeo. Atlanta is home to the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame, which honors musicians such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé and Shirley Caesar. And in Shelbyville, Tennessee, which sits about an hour southeast of Nashville, you’ll find the award-winning Nearest Green Distillery, a premium distillery that honors the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey.
But these are not the only history-filled places you can visit to learn more about the achievements of African Americans — there are dozens just like them across the U.S.
The following seven destinations, in particular, are some of our favorite places that celebrate Black history year-round. Here’s why these locales stand out from the rest — and everything you need to know about their noteworthy attractions, accommodations and cuisines.
While the city is known for its Hispanic heritage, San Antonio is permeated by African American culture, too. An enslaved African was first brought here in 1528 during the early period of Spanish exploration in the Americas, according to Prairie View A&M University. As a result, many Black Texans, including me (thanks to five generations of my father’s family calling the area home), are connected to the city on a historical level that spans centuries. Even if you don’t have personal ties to San Antonio, you’ll appreciate the city’s commitment to celebrating its Black community year-round.
What to do
There’s far more to do in San Antonio than just hanging out on the River Walk. Martin Luther King Park is home to “Spheres of Reflection,” a statue designed by local artist Kaldric Dow that you’ll want to check out, as it highlights words used repeatedly by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Witte Museum, the oldest museum in Texas, has an exhibit that features artifacts spotlighting the all-too-often hidden Black Faces of the Wild West. There’s also the Carver Community Cultural Center, which celebrates the diverse cultures of the world by emphasizing African and African American heritage through artistic presentations, community outreach activities and educational programs.
Where to stay
San Antonio is home to a variety of chain, independent and boutique hotels. One of the newest is the Thompson San Antonio, which is away from the main River Walk area but is still easily accessible. Historic Hotel Emma at The Pearl, a strong culinary and cultural community near downtown, is another solid option, especially if you prefer boutique properties with special details you might not find elsewhere, such as welcome margaritas and in-room “ice boxes” (minifridges) stocked with locally made snacks and drinks, some complimentary and some with an added charge.
What to eat and drink
As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, San Antonio sees all cultures playing out in its restaurants. Go to Tony G’s Soul Food on the east side of the city to indulge in a hearty breakfast or lunch of Southern staples. Or, make your way to Biga on the Banks by the River Walk for new American dishes like chicken-fried oysters and Axis venison covered in a blend of 11 spices. For French food that will have you feeling like you’ve somehow made your way to Paris, go to Brasserie Mon Chou Chou in The Pearl and order the raclette appetizer and Le Steak, a New York strip cooked to perfection and served with frites.