With a diverse range of organizations and businesses, Portland’s Black community provides visitors with resources and a friendly welcome. The Rose City has a vibrant Black culture. Use the links below to explore the city’s Black history and Black cultural events, as well as Black-owned businesses and restaurants.
Where Can I Learn More About Black Culture in Portland?
Where can I learn more about Portland’s Black history?
How can I support Black-owned businesses in Portland?
Where can I find Black culture in Portland?
Black History in Portland
Of the non-Native people who settled in Oregon, Black pioneers were among the earliest to arrive. In the years since, Black people have overcome barriers and discrimination to make significant contributions to politics, medicine, the environment, sports and the arts in Oregon. Portland today is home to nearly 40,000 Black residents with a vibrant Black culture, most of whom live on the city’s eastside.
Brought into focus by local organizations, explore the city’s diverse and delicious Black-owned food carts, restaurants and markets in Portland.
Every February, Americans of all races and backgrounds celebrate Black History Month. Celebrate with these Portland events.
The Portland Jazz Festival returns every February with a stellar series of concerts and events celebrating Black History Month.
Black Portland’s Performing Art Scenes
For over 40 years, PassinArt, the longest-producing African American theater company in Oregon, has highlighted Black writers, performers and narratives on the stage. With three productions a year, this community catalyst also has youth programs to inspire and educate.
Portland is known for its thriving music scene, and much of the credit for building the city’s melodic reputation goes to the Black community. In addition to the popularity of the two-week Portland Jazz Festival, the Rose City also hosts the longest-running free jazz festival west of the Mississippi in St. John’s Cathedral Park.
Portland’s jazz culture is extensive. Notable jazz artists from Portland include Esperanza Spalding, Dave Frishberg, Mel Brown and Jim Pepper.
Today, Portland’s hip-hop scene is also thriving. Despite discrimination and gentrification, hip-hop has found a way to survive in what has historically been a less-than-diverse city. One promising step forward happened in 2015 when then-mayor Charlie Hales designated October 15 as “Portland Hip-hop Day.” The city even has Green Muse, its first Historical Hip-Hop Dispensary. Notable hip-hop artists from Portland include Vursatyl (of Lifesavas), Libretto, Hanif, Cool Nutz, Mic Capes, Glenn Waco and Rasheed Jamal.
African Food in Portland
Visitors looking to taste flavorful dishes from faraway Ethiopia, Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire can sample them stateside. In Portland, the African food scene thrives in many hidden-in-plain-sight spots throughout the city. From Black Star Grill’s famous jollof rice to Akadi’s beef suya or the true West African specialty of slow-cooked goat meat in a spiced tomato stew, these African eateries offer the full culinary experience.
Connect with Portland's Black community at these businesses, cultural centers, clubs, restaurants and more. Black culture flows throughout the Rose City.
Black history in Portland is fraught with the daunting barriers and discrimination Black Americans overcame to make important contributions to the city and state.
Portland's Black community celebrates a variety of events throughout the year.
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