February 3, 2021

California Black History Month Resource Guide

February is Black History Month and with the recognition that – even with the efforts of earlier generations – much of the state’s African American history has been overlooked or suppressed, we’ve drawn together some of our favorite California Black history resources for you to explore.

Collections, Events, Exhibition, ,

California Black History Month Resource Guide

Archives, Libraries, and Other Resources:

Capt. William T. Shorey and wife Julia Shelton, daughters Zenobia and Victoria, ca. 1910; California Historical Society Portraits

Blogs, websites, and other content:

Digital Programs, video, and online exhibitions:

Untitled (Huey Newton), 1967. All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of the Rossman Family. Oakland Museum of California


  • Take a stroll through San Francisco’s Transgender Cultural District. Founded by three black trans women in 2017 as Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, The Transgender District is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world. Originally named after the first documented uprising of transgender and queer people in United States history, the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots of 1966, the district encompasses 6 blocks in the southeastern Tenderloin and crosses over Market Street to include two blocks of 6th street. In 2016, the City of San Francisco renamed portions of Turk and Taylor to commemorate the historic contributions of transgender people, renaming them “Compton’s Cafeteria Way” and “Vikki Mar Lane” respectively. Don’t miss the Black Trans Lives Matter mural at Turk & Taylor Streets.
Black Trans Lives Matter mural. Photos courtesy of The Transgender District/Gareth Gooch Photography
  • Though the Black Panther Party officially disbanded in 1982, the group’s legacy and presence remain today. Over the course of 16 years, the Panthers created over 65 documented survival programs like the breakfast and lunch program for school children, free health clinics and sickle cell anemia testing. The Panthers advocated for health care, affordable housing, education, and political control through local elections. Visit 12 Oakland locations where the Black Panther Party made history via Black Panther History driving self-tour.
  • Visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. Read more about Colonel Allensworth and the self-sufficient black community he founded in California.
  • Biddy Mason Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The park honors pioneering black woman and former-slave Bridget “Biddy” Mason. As a free woman, Mason settled in Los Angeles with her children and found work as a nurse and midwife. Over the course of her life, Mason purchased property and became a prominent landowner and philanthropist in Los Angeles. Learn more about Biddy Mason here.
  • The 1944 Port Chicago disaster occurred at the naval magazine and resulted in the largest domestic loss of life during World War II. 320 sailors and civilians were instantly killed on July 17, 1944, when the ships they were loading with ammunition and bombs exploded. The majority of the deaths were African American sailors working for the racially segregated military. Visit the Port Chicago Naval Magazine (temporarily closed).
  • Before there were National Park Service rangers, there was the U.S. Army. And within the army, a remarkable unit known as the Buffalo Soldiers had lasting impacts in places still preserved as national parks today. Retrace the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers in Yosemite National Park and the Presidio of San Francisco.
In this 1899 photo, Buffalo Soldiers in the 24th Infantry carried out mounted patrol duties in Yosemite. Courtesy of National Park Service.
  • The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Sculpture Museum in Joshua Tree. Born in Snow Hill, Alabama in 1917, Noah Purifoy lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. His earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts rebellion, was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, the landmark 1966 group exhibition on the Watts riots that traveled throughout the country. In the late 1980s, after 11 years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions,which brought art into the state prison system, Purifoy moved his practice out to the Mojave desert. He lived for the last 15 years of his life creating ten acres full of large-scale sculpture on the desert floor. Constructed entirely from junked materials, this otherworldly environment is one of California’s great art historical wonders.