Los Angeles, California has a lot more Black history than most people realize. The city was founded in 1781 by a group of 44 Mexican settlers, and 26 of them were of African descent. Pío de Jesús Pico, who was of both African and American descent, was one of the first governors of the area that is now known as the city of Los Angeles. In fact, he served as the governor of Alta California twice and was even a councilman before his untimely death.
Even more, in 1872, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church was established in Los Angeles when emancipated Blacks began moving to the city in significant numbers towards the end of the Civil War. In 1885, the second Baptist Church for African Americans was built.
In the 1920’s, Paul Revere Williams, a famous Black architect credited for shaping Los Angeles, began designing homes and commercial buildings through out the cities.
Locations like Central Avenue became the focal point for African-American communities. In fact, Central Avenue was the location of the vibrant Los Angeles jazz scene that attracted such greats as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Bessie Smith. To date, the Dr. Ralph J. Bunche home, the first person of color to win the lauded Nobel Peace Prize, remains a landmark on Central Avenue.
The infamous Dunbar Hotel (originally known as the Hotel Somerville) on Central Avenue was completely financed and built solely by Black people. Known as one of the finest Black-owned hotels in the nation, it would often host major events such as the NAACP national conventions.
Today, Los Angeles remains one of the top cities in the countries where African Americans live, and Black history continues to be made in the areas of business, entertainment, politics, and more.