Discover African American Landmarks in Los Angeles

Entrance to the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Exposition Park
Photo: California African American Museum

Los Angeles is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Beginning with LA's founding in 1781, African American culture and community 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. It’s no coincidence that the two years President Barack Obama spent at LA’s Occidental College (1979-1981) played a major role in determining his future in politics.

Taking place every February, Black History Month is a special time of year in LA. Cultural institutions across the city celebrate with art exhibits, festivals, movie screenings, concerts and more. Even better, you can explore LA’s African American heritage throughout the year. From South LA to Downtown LA, the Westside and the Beach Cities, read on for African American landmarks in LA.


Located in historic Exposition Park in Downtown LA, the renowned California African American Museum (CAAM) is housed in a 44,000 square-foot facility that opened to the public during the 1984 Olympic Games. The museum’s collection ranges from traditional African art to artifacts from the estate of LA’s first African American mayor, Tom Bradley.

NOTE: CAAM is currently closed due to ongoing storm-related repairs. Exhibits and events continue at Art + Practice (see below).

Art + Practice

Art + Practice

Founded by artist Mark Bradford, philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, and community activist Allan DiCastro, Art + Practice (A+P) is a nonprofit foundation based in Leimert Park Village. A+P supports the needs of South LA foster youth and provides the community with access to museum-curated contemporary art.

The California African American Museum at A+P is a five-year collaboration (2022-2026) that brings CAAM-curated shows to A+P’s exhibition space, and develops a hub for CAAM to incubate new programming.

Exterior of the African American Firefighter Museum in Downtown LA
African American Firefighter Museum | Photo: @LAFDTalk, X

African American Firefighter Museum

The African American Firefighter Museum (AAFM) collects, 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. The AAFFM currently exists as the first and only museum of its kind in the country. The first floor contains vintage fire equipment, stories and pictures of pioneering African American firefighters. The second-floor gallery features pictures, artifacts and other memorabilia of African American firefighters, Captains, Chief Officers and historic women fire service professionals from around the country.

Picture of Timeline at Biddy Mason Memorial Park
Timeline at Biddy Mason Memorial Park | Photo by Daniel Djang

Biddy Mason Park

Located near the historic Grand Central Market in Downtown, Biddy Mason Park is dedicated to Bridget “Biddy” Mason, a former slave who became a noted philanthropist and a founding member of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. Mason won her freedom in 1856 and settled in Los Angeles to work as a midwife. Ten years later she bought a house, where she operated an orphanage and eventually founded the city’s First A.M.E. Church on land she had purchased and then donated to the church. The park features a timeline that traces Mason's remarkable life.

Exterior of the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE
GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE

The GRAMMY Museum celebrates the history and power of music in an interactive museum located in the spectacular L.A. LIVE entertainment complex. The museum features four floors of permanent and traveling exhibitions, the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater, and a rooftop terrace for special programs and events. Look for exhibits highlighting the life and achievements of GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award winners such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke.

Now on view at the GRAMMY Museum through September 4, Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The 5,000 square-foot exhibit delves deep into the world of hip-hop through expansive exhibits on hip-hop music, dance, graffiti, fashion, business, activism and history, providing visitors with an immersive experience that explores the profound impact and influence of hip-hop culture.

Jackie Robinson statue by Branly Cadet at Dodger Stadium
Jackie Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium | Photo: Jon SooHoo

Jackie Robinson - Dodger Stadium

Baseball legend Jackie Robinson played his entire MLB career for the Brooklyn Dodgers, retiring the year before the team’s 1958 move to Los Angeles. The first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era, Robinson spent his formative years in LA - raised in Pasadena from age 1 and an alum of John Muir High School, Pasadena Junior College and UCLA.

Each year, Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated on April 15, commemorating the date in 1947 when Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers ended 75 years of racial segregation in baseball. In 1997, MLB retired his No. 42 across all major league teams - Robinson was the first pro athlete in any sport to receive that honor.

Fans can pay their respects at the eight-foot bronze statue of Jackie Robinson located in Centerfield Plaza at Dodger Stadium. Sculpted by Branly Cadet, the 800-pound monument depicts Robinson stealing home during his rookie season. The statue was joined in June 2022 by an adjacent Cadet creation honoring Robinson's fellow Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.

At the Top of the Park, fans can pose with a five-foot "42" in the Retired Numbers Plaza, along with other numbers like Koufax's No. 32, Roy Campanella's No. 39, and microphones dedicated to legendary sportscasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.

The Tuskegee Airmen's highest honor, the Noel F. Parrish Award, on display at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum
The Tuskegee Airmen's highest honor, the Noel F. Parrish Award, on display at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum | Photo: Shannon Cottrell

Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum

Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) is a living classroom that brings aviation history to life and empowers the dreams of underprivileged youth to literally take flight. Located in South Los Angeles, TAM features interactive exhibits that explore racial diversity in the evolution of modern flight, Tuskegee Airmen Learning Center, Sky Lab computer center, and operating and static display aircraft.

Read more about TAM founder Robin Petgrave. 

Museum of African American Art in Baldwin Hills
Museum of African American Art in Baldwin Hills | Photo: Facebook

Museum of African American Art

The Museum of African American Art (MAAA) is a hidden gem located at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The nonprofit museum exhibits the work of world-renowned artists as well as emerging local artists, while ensuring that its art experiences are free and accessible to the public.

MAAA is the home of the renowned Palmer Hayden Collection - 40 oil paintings by the acclaimed Harlem Renaissance artist, including the 12 paintings known as The Ballad of John Henry. The museum's permanent collection includes works from the United States as well as paintings, masks, batiks, carvings, and ceremonial objects from Africa, the Caribbean, the South Pacific and South America.

The museum is currently exhibiting in a temp space across from TJ Maxx on Level 2 of the mall. On view through Feb. 24, 2024, Here: Arts & Culture Along the K is a multimedia art exhibition that showcases the art program of the Metro K Line.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tree Grove at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tree Grove  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Martin Luther King Memorial Tree Grove - Kenneth Hahn SRA

Dedicated in 2018, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tree Grove is located at the highest point of Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills. It's an easy hike to the memorial, which features an obelisk that evokes memories of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. The obelisk and stones are inscribed with some of the civil rights leader’s most inspiring words. Enjoy the sweeping views and reflect on Martin Luther King's legacy.

Watts Towers

Watts Towers

The world-famous Watts Towers were built by Sabato (aka "Sam" or "Simon") Rodia in his spare time over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. Rodia - an Italian immigrant and a Watts resident - built the towers by himself, using only hand tools and window washer's equipment. The monumental sculpture was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990, and has become a 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 Watts Towers Arts Center provides diverse cultural enrichment programming through tours, lectures, exhibitions of local African American and international artists, and studio workshops for teachers and students. The Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center presents programs to young area residents by expanding existing music classes offered through the Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Watts Towers are located a 10-minute walk from the 103rd Street / Watts Towers Station on the Metro A Line. Since everything is outdoors, you can show up any time to view the site. The only way to access the towers is a 30-minute guided tour, which are available from 11am to 3pm on Thursdays and Fridays. The suggested donation is $7 for adults and $3 for youth and seniors. Tours are not offered on rainy days.

Watts Labor Community Action Committee
Courtesy of Watts Labor Community Action Committee


The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for South Central Los Angeles residents. In addition to community development and social services, the WLCAC features cultural programming such as the Cecil Fergerson Gallery, the monumental Mother of Humanity sculpture, photography, murals, and the Civil Rights Tour, a remarkable, three-part immersive experience. 

Barack Obama at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex
Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama greets supporters at a rally at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex in Los Angeles | Photo: Barack Obama Flickr

Obama Boulevard

Some of LA's most-traveled boulevards are named for presidents, such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln. President Barack Obama was added to this illustrious list in June 2017, when the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the motion to rename 3.5 miles of Rodeo Road in South L.A. as Obama Boulevard. This became official in August 2018. Former City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. introduced then-Sen. Obama at his first Los Angeles presidential campaign rally, which took place at the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex on Rodeo Road in February 2007.

The City of Los Angeles officially unveiled Obama Boulevard on May 4, 2019 with the Obama Boulevard Naming Ceremony & Street Festival at the intersection of Obama Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, creating one of the most significant African American points of interest in the country.

In July 2022, the Rancho Cienega Sports Complex reopened as the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Complex. Culver City-based SPF:architects expanded on the existing facility with a 40,000 square-foot sustainably designed building that includes a pool facility, basketball gym, raised walking track, two overlook seating areas that serve the tennis center and stadium; and an enclosed garden for the community building. SPF notes that the project marks the City of LA's first Net Zero Energy (NZE) structure.

Discover Barack Obama's LA with our guide.

Dishes at Harold & Belle’s
Photo: Harold & Belle’s

Harold & Belle's

Named the 2013 Best Creole in L.A. by Los Angeles Magazine, Harold & Belle’s has been serving the distinctive flavors and Southern hospitality of New Orleans since 1969. Three generations of Legaux ownership can be experienced in the home-cooked family recipes and the warm and inviting atmosphere.

Vision Theater Leimert Park
Vision Theater, Leimert Park  Instagram by @dmoore2mg

Leimert Park

Begin your day with a coffee or go big with a hearty plate of soul food at one of the many restaurants in Leimert Park, an arts and cultural hub that filmmaker John Singleton referred to as the “Black Greenwich Village.” Leimert Park features Art Deco buildings that house Afrocentric art galleries, shops, restaurants, theaters, nightclubs, and cultural centers. The village is home to the historic Vision Theatre, a performing arts center that has served the community since 1931. Also located in Leimert Park is the KAOS Network, a multimedia and training arts center best known for "Project Blowed," a hip hop and rap open mic night that gave birth to rappers and rap groups such as Aceyalone, Medusa, and Jurassic Five. The popular Leimert Park Art Walk is a free, self-guided visual and performance art experience that takes place on the last Sunday of every month.

Explore historic Leimert Park with our guide.


Alta Adams
Photo: Alta Adams

Alta Adams

Located in LA’s historic West Adams neighborhood, Alta Adams serves comforting food and great cocktails that bring people together in community. Alta Adams’ unique culinary vision is led by chef Keith Corbin, an LA native. The menu fuses Southern flavors and soul food dishes that Corbin grew up eating with a vibrant aesthetic and produce-driven approach.

Hattie McDaniels House

Sugar Hill: Hattie McDaniel Residence

This Period Revival residence at 2203 South Harvard Boulevard was home to actress Hattie McDaniel beginning in the 1940s.

Born in 1895 to two former slaves in Wichita, Kansas, McDaniel became the first black American to win an Academy Award in 1939. She was honored for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. McDaniel identified as a bisexual woman and was married four times. In 1941, she moved into the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles. At that time, Sugar Hill was popular among black celebrities (some notable residents include Joe Louis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, and "Sweet Daddy" Grace). Her house was designed by local architect Lester S. Moore in 1911. 

In 1949, white residents filed a lawsuit against McDaniel and other black homeowners in the Sugar Hill neighborhood because their property deeds forbade sale to non-Caucasians. After she was taken to court, a judge ruled in favor of McDaniel and other black homeowners on the grounds of the 14th Amendment. This amendment prohibits depriving individuals of life, freedom, and property without due process of law, and also prohibits the state from curtailing the privileges and protections of citizens. This laid the groundwork for the Fair Housing Act. McDaniel died in 1952 at the age of 57. (

Catch One

Catch One

Located on the border of Koreatown in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Catch One is one of L.A.'s top nightclubs, featuring a wide-ranging lineup of electronic, hip hop, indie dance, metal and rock. Catch One was originally known as Jewel’s Catch One. Opened in 1973, Jewel’s was the first exclusively gay and lesbian disco for African Americans in the country. During the club's 40-year heyday, owner Jewel-Thais Williams welcomed everyone from Rick James and Madonna to the "Queen of Disco," Sylvester. To honor her contributions to the LGBT community, Thais-Williams was named the Grand Marshall of the 2016 LA PRIDE Parade & Festival in West Hollywood.

Interior of Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen in Inglewood
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen in Inglewood | Photo: Ed Rudolph

Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen

Founded by LA natives Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen counts Issa Rae (Insecure) and former NFL player Spencer Paysinger (All American) among its partners. Hilltop's flagship location in Downtown Inglewood occupies the 3,500 square-foot space that previously housed Sweetie Pies, across from the iconic KJLH 102.3 FM radio station owned by Stevie Wonder.

Along with favorites like the hot drip Slauson House Blend and Lavender Latte (double espresso, house-made lavender syrup, choice of milk), seasonal offerings include the Black Rose Latte with activated charcoal, espresso, house-made rosewater syrup and choice of milk, served hot or iced.

The extensive food options include Hilltop Droptops (Avocado, Smoked Salmon, Strawberry & Banana), Handhelds (the Bangin' Breakfast Sandwich is a must), and Bowls like the hearty Soul Bowl with poached egg, creamy grits, braised collard greens and charred corn.

Morris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube in "Boyz N the Hood"
Morris Chestnut, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube in "Boyz N the Hood" | Photo: Academy Museum

"Boyz N the Hood" - Academy Museum

Opened in September 2021, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures houses more than 13 million objects in a 300,000 square-foot campus designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano.

Now on view at the Academy Museum as part of its ongoing Stories of Cinema exhibition, the Boyz N the Hood gallery explores the movie's groundbreaking depiction of Black life in South Central LA as well as its lasting impact in popular culture.

The space highlights writer-director John Singleton’s unique vision for the film, for which he became both the first African American and the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The gallery also spotlights the cast and crew - including Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long and Angela Bassett - showing the pivotal role the film played not only in their careers, but also for a new generation of Black talent in Hollywood.

Petersen Automotive Museum
Petersen Automotive Museum  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Petersen Automotive Museum

Located along Museum Row at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax, the spectacular Petersen Automotive Museum is dedicated to the exploration and presentation of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture, using Los Angeles as the prime example. For generations, African Americans have made important contributions to the industry, ranging from Richard Spikes (inventor of the automatic gear shift) to Edward T. Welburn, the former Vice President of Global Design at General Motors from 2003 to 2016. Encompassing more than 300,000 square feet, the museum’s exhibits feature hundreds of rare and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles.

The Party Tray at Bludso's BBQ
The Party Tray | Photo: Bludso's BBQ

Bludso's BBQ

On the website for his eponymous restaurants, James Beard Award-winning chef Kevin Bludso says, "Our recipes have been passed down from generation to generation and there ain't no better feeling than sharing them with y'all." With its communal picnic tables and flatscreens tuned to all the games, the flagship Bludso's BBQ on La Brea is ideal for groups to get their smoked meat fix.

Go all in with The Party Tray, which is priced at $360 and serves 15: 1.5 lb Brisket, 1.5 lb Pulled Pork, 1.5 Whole Chicken, 1.5 Rack Pork Ribs, 1 lb Rib Tips and 4 Texas Red Hots; plus Pickles, Cornbread and BBQ Sauce. Choose 3 quarts of Hot or Cold Sides - Mac n' Cheese, Baked Beans, Collard Greens, Potato Salad, Texas Caviar and Coleslaw.

Fowler Museum, UCLA
Courtesy of Fowler Museum, UCLA

Fowler Museum

Located on the campus of UCLA in Westwood, the Fowler Museum explores global arts and cultures with an emphasis on works from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas - past and present. The museum’s Arts of Africa and the African Diaspora is one of the largest and finest in the United States, and one of the top twenty African collections worldwide. This collection offers a superb representation of the arts of many African nations, including objects from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa.

LAX Theme Building
Theme Building at LAX | Photo: Wikipedia

LAX: TBIT & Theme Building

Tom Bradley was the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles. His 20 years in office was the longest tenure of any mayor in the city's history. Bradley attended UCLA on an athletic scholarship and graduated from Southwestern Law School. Named for our 38th mayor, Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal B) at LAX has 18 gates, including nine on the north concourse and nine on the south concourse. There are also nine satellite gates for international flights located on the west side of LAX.

Paul R. Williams designed numerous Los Angeles landmarks, from public buildings and churches to homes for celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Williams was born in Downtown LA, studied architecture at USC, and became the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi. Perhaps his most recognizable work is the iconic Theme Building at LAX. Williams was part of the team that designed the Googie-style landmark, which was built in 1961. The observation deck is no longer open to the public. Read more about architect Paul R. Williams and his LA buildings.

Bruce's Beach

In 1912, Willa and Charles Bruce built a scenic beachfront resort called Bruce's Beach Lodge that welcomed Black beachgoers with a restaurant, and a dance hall. Segregation practices had restricted most beach access for Blacks in the city, and the new resort was welcomed by many. However, later unable to fend off racist complaints from the neighbors, the Bruce’s successful business was shut down and in 1929, the Manhattan Beach City Council seized the property citing eminent domain. Located at 26th Street and Highland Avenue, some of the area was eventually turned into a city park (Manhattan Beach’s oldest) in the 1960s and renamed Bruce's Beach in 2007. Further reparations were recently made, and in September 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill SB796 into law, allowing the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce to have their land returned to them.

Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Santa Monica Beach

In the 1920s, there was only one beach in Southern California that minorities could use without being harassed. The strip of Santa Monica Beach known as the Inkwell was located off Ocean Front Walk, near the historic Casa Del Mar hotel. In 2007, the City of Santa Monica unveiled a plaque at the beach in memory of Nicolas Gabaldon, the first documented surfer of African American and Latino descent. This landmark beach is still popular with African Americans in the L.A. area to this day. For a quintessential L.A. experience, watch a sunset at Santa Monica Beach.

Battleship Iowa
Battleship Iowa  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Battleship IOWA

Known as the “World’s Greatest Naval Ship,” Battleship IOWA is a floating museum offering daily tours of the ship’s history through World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. Also known as the “Battleship of Presidents,” the IOWA has hosted three Presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.

The ship is also where Samuel Lee Gravely Jr., a pioneer in the United States Navy, began his career. During his distinguished career, Gravely accomplished a number of firsts for African Americans - the first African American in the Navy to serve aboard a fighting ship as an officer, the first to command a Navy ship, the first fleet commander, and the first to become a flag officer.

Learn more about the iconic Battleship IOWA.

MOLAA exterior
Courtesy of MOLAA

Museum of Latin American Art

Located in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) houses a collection of over 1,000 artworks, including artists of African descent in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.