African American history and culture permeates throughout the Columbia region. From storied histories to the food scene, art and music, there are many ways to celebrate Black History Month in the heart of South Carolina. Here are a few suggestions.
From the Reconstruction Era to Civil Rights, Columbia has a lot of ways to celebrate Black History month from a historical perspective. Take a self-guided tour of the Reconstruction Era and learn about some of the sites and local trailblazers during that time or take the Columbia SC 63 Main Street walking tour to learn about a number of defining moments during the Civil Rights Movement of 1963. Visit the African American History Monument on the grounds of the South Carolina State House, take one of Historic Columbia’s African American History Tours including the Mann-Simons Site and the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House, home to one of South Carolina’s greatest human rights advocates. On the University of South Carolina campus near the Thomas Cooper Library, view the statue of Richard T. Greener, the school’s first African American professor.
Want to support local Black-owned restaurants? Columbia has you covered from breakfast to lunch to after-dinner cocktails. The Toasty Hot Spot opened last year and offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items and breakfast all day. Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles is a favorite location for visitors and celebrities alike (you never know who may pop in to dine) and is a must have on game days inside Colonial Life Arena. If you are in the Lexington area and want great food in an unexpected location, check out Roy’s Grille located inside of a gas station. There you’ll find everything from smoked brisket to house made sauces, cured and smoked bacon and pimento cheese. Speaking of barbecue, Railroad BBQ combines its Southern barbecue with an eclectic vibe. Pulled pork, chicken and brisket dominate the menu with signature sides and there’s a bologna sandwich that’s a must-try. Finally, head over to Esther’s Soul Food + Kitchen in Northeast Columbia and be transported back to you grandmother’s table (remember baked turkey wings, smothered pork chops, pot roast …they have it all). When you’re ready to wine down, Goat’s in Five Points is a great choice. Owner Olando “Opie” Patterson continues the tradition at this Columbia staple of serving an inviting menu and a wide selection of wines and signature cocktails.
Art & Music
African American art and music are ingrained in the culture here. Stroll down Main Street and artist Ija Charles’ Black Wall Street mural pays homage to a time when Black businesses bustled in the downtown area. Charles’ imprint is all over the region with murals and portraits of Black love, positivity and joy. Other murals in the “pursuit” series commissioned by the City of Columbia tell the stories of the integration of Columbia’s Rosewood Elementary School, Sarah Mae Flemming, a domestic worker who refused to give up her seat to a white rider a year before Rosa Parks, and local individuals who helped the progression of African Americans in the city. Visit One Columbia Arts and Culture’s Public Art Directory for locations.
For music lovers, you don’t have to wait for big concerts to take in live music. Chayz Lounge in West Columbia has you covered with renowned jazz, R&B and soul artists year-round. Or visit colajazz.com for jazz festivals and performances throughout the region.