Visit Houston, and its rich African American heritage will amaze you. Discover historic sights, and bike around iconic neighborhoods. Visit museums and cultural centers. Eat and drink around the city. Experience Black life in HTX and you’ll enrich your soul.
The African American population in Houston has been significant almost since the city was founded in 1836. These days, the Black community comprises 22.83% of the population and has yielded two African American mayors: Lee Patrick Brown (1998-2004) and Sylvester Turner (2016-2022). And Houston has twice as many Black residents as Atlanta. Come say hello!
Formerly enslaved people from Texas and Louisiana flocked to Houston’s 4th Ward establishing Freedmen’s Town in 1865. John Henry ‘Jack’ Yates led the community, became the first minister of the city’s first Black church, and founder of the Houston Academy school. This vibrant neighborhood flourished up to the 1930s, much like NY’s Harlem. The district is now a treasured Nationally Registered Historic Landmark and Houston’s first Heritage District under the stewardship of the Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy, marked by historic houses, museums, and churches.
The following sites are a ‘must visit’:
- Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (Houston’s first Black church, circa 1866.)
- African American Library at the Gregory School (African American history and culture)
- R.B.H. Yates Museum (1912 home of Yates’ son Rutherford B. H. Yates)
- Bethel Missionary Baptist Church (Yates second congregation started in 1890s)
- Historic brick streets at Andrews and Wilson St. (1900s African-designed brick streets)
Tips: Take an enlightening historic/cultural walking or bicycle tour with Freedmen’s Town Walking Tours. Or cruise around the Third Ward on two wheels listening to music with 3rd Ward Tours.
There’s an entertaining mix of things to do in Houston, and much is centered around Black history or culture. From illuminating museums that preserve history to new cultural meccas.
More must-visit sites:
- Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the largest repository of African American military history in the world, including Revolutionary War, World Wars, etc.
- Former Barbara Jordan Post Office is now Houston’s newest cultural center, including: Rooftop garden, Skyfarm, and food hall. Concerts at the 713 Music Hall (Lucky Daye, Jasmine Sullivan, Giveon).
Make a date to meet on the rooftop park at Post, have dinner at ChòpnBlọk and head to a concert by artists like Ludacris.
Get in touch with farm life.
Go off the beaten tourist path, feel your roots and get down to earth. Visit Black-owned farms. See fruit and vegetables planted, grown, and harvested. Follow the food chain back to its sources and meet the forward-thinking farmers advancing agrarian life.
More must-visit spots:
- Sweetwater Farms – Explore this six-acre family-owned urban farm. It’s an oasis in the middle of a food desert. Agriculturist Chaz Daughtry shows students and tourists how healthy food choices can be grown and made. He’s also developed SoulFitGrill, a line of “healthy, soulful spices.”
- Ivy Leaf Farms, run by Ivy Walls, provides vegetables like collard greens (Georgia, Champions) and okra (Green Velvet, Burgundy) to local Black chefs that prefer home grown produce. Roam through a pumpkin patch and feel the ground below. Support share programs that provide free veggies to those in need.
Farm visits are by reservation only, so reach out before your trip to confirm the date, time, and accessibility.