Updated: Jul 25, 2020
When I think of Baltimore, I think of Black folk! In fact, it is one of the blackest cities in the USA, sixth place to be exact. However, this shift did not occur until the 1970’s. Considering the number of black people in #Baltimore, it is not noticeable in the number of black owned businesses. As a result, you have to make an active effort to explore Black Baltimore!
What is Baltimore’s connection to the "Black Experience?"
Largest population of free black people half a century before the Emancipation Proclamation.
Second northernmost majority black city in the U.S.
First free public school for African-American children built in Baltimore
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass arrived in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point as an eight-year-old boy. In his 70’s, he returned to Baltimore as a successful man and built five houses on Strawberry Alley that he named Douglass Place.
The USS Constellation from Baltimore was used to interrupt the African slave trade. The military unit managed to capture a total of 14 ships and freed more than 4,000 people.
St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore was the first Catholic Church in the United States established for African-Americans. Many African Americans learned how to read and write from its parish school in the basement of the church as blacks were prohibited from receiving a formal education. There were taught by the Oblate Sisters, the first Black Catholic religious order of nuns
Here is a day-long itinerary that can help you experience #BlackBaltimore through experiencing #blackownedbusinesses:
MORNING: Have brunch at Ida B’s Table or Connie’s Waffles!
Ida B’s Table: This is a modern #soulfood restaurant, which is reflected in their higher end prices. However, they serve great food and there is a nice ambiance. On weekends, there is live music with your entertainment. You will find many black customers frequenting there, especially many older professionals.
Connie’s Chicken and Waffles: Located in Lexington Market, this fast food spot allows you to get chicken wings and waffles with easy access. The story of this place is motivating as two brothers joined forces to open the restaurant after being motivated by their mother’s home cooked meals. They want everyone to have that loving experience. The best part is that they give back to their community for causes such as STEM, financial literacy, and community empowerment.
AFTERNOON: Visit some Black History Museums!
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture: Anytime I travel, I love to see if there is an African American museum. Baltimore did not disappoint. Located a couple of blocks from the Inner Harbor, this is the largest museum in #Bmore. It is named after Reginald F. Lewis, the first African American to build a billion-dollar company called TLC Beatrice International Holdings. Lewis is the epitome of “started from the bottom, now we here,” ending up on 1993 Forbes list of 400 richest Americans with a net worth estimated at $400 million. There is so much history to discover among the 11,000 documents and artifacts in the museum. WOW, just WOW! It made me proud of my history as well as more informed.
National Great Blacks in Wax Museum: I did not know that such a museum existed until I was a chaperoning a weeklong black college tour in 2015. Although I have not been back since, I definitely felt inspired when I visited. This wax museum is very unique because it features all prominent black historical figures. Not only is it Baltimore's first wax museum, but it is also the first wax museum of African American history in the nation. In existence since 1983, the museum features over 100 wax figures and scenes, including a full model slave ship to represent the Atlantic Slave Trade as well as a room highlighting contributions from important black Marylanders contributing to African American history. In 2004, The Blacks in Wax Museum was recognized by the U.S. Congress and became The National #BlacksinWax Museum.
LATE NIGHT: Dinner and live music at Next Phaze Café
Next Phaze Café: The motto of #NextPhazeCafe is “Memorable Meals + Comfortable Convenience + Exceptional Events.” I would absolutely agree! Here you will find some tasty soul food that is very well seasoned: whether it is crab cakes, ribs, fried chicken, collard greens or mac and cheese cooked the right way. If you attend on certain evenings during the week, you will get to enjoy your delicious food with some talented live entertainment.
For example, I came expecting to enjoy some soul food, but was delightfully wowed by their Acoustic Thursdays organized by singer and songwriter Marc Avon Evans for just a $5 coverage. I loved the atmosphere as it felt like we were all family. Even some of the musicians wanted to make sure that my mom and I had a means of getting home and walked us out the door and waited until our Uber came. I would check out the following artists instagrams: @Blackroot1; @marcavonevanspix; @jahworksbaltimore.
If you have more time to explore the city or want a few additional options, check out this list for more black-owned restaurants in Baltimore.