A Travel Guide to Black Boston in the Fall and Winter Months

Johane Alexis-Phanor
5 min readNov 21, 2023

There’s so much Black history, art, and culture to experience in Boston in the colder months.

BLACK BEANTOWN HISTORY

Black history

Embrace Boston Memorial (Ongoing)

Photo Credit Mass Design Group.

Martin Luther King Jr and his wife Coretta Scott King lived in Boston from 1951–1954. MLK was studying for a PhD in Systematic Theology at Boston University School of Theology while Coretta was earning a Bachelor of Music in Music Education at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. They met, fell in love, got married in Atlanta, and likely had their first marital home together in Boston’s South End.

The Embrace Memorial, designed by artist Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with the Mass Design Group honors MLK and Coretta’s love and their contribution to the City’s fight for equity.

Art in the Caribbean Diaspora (Oct 5, 2023 — Feb 25, 2024)

Photo Credit Institute of Contemporary Art

The Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibition Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today features art by 28 artists who have Caribbean heritage and/or connections. The exhibition is anchored in the concept of diaspora, the dispersal of people through migration both forced and voluntary.

The Shirley-Eustis House (Ongoing)

Photo Credit The Shirley-Eustis House.

The Shirley-Eustis House is a historic home in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood built in 1747 for the British appointed Royal Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, William Shirley. In 2022, the City of Boston’s archaeology program uncovered remains of slave quarters on the grounds. It is believed to be one of the only known quarters of enslaved people in New England.

BLACK BEANTOWN EXPERIENCE

Black owned shops, businesses, experiences

Tatiana Johnson-Boria Writing Workshop and Poetry (November 30, 2023 at 5pm)

Photo Credit Tatiana Johnson-Boria.

Local author Tatiana Johnson-Boria will read from her book “Nocturne in Joy,” a poetry collection about growing up as a Black girl dealing with racism, sexism, and violence. Tatiana is a poet, artist, and strategic communications consultant. Her reading will follow an interactive writing workshop on the use of memories to craft poetry.

Phillis in Boston (November 1- December 3, 2023)

Photo Credit Revolutionary Spaces.

Written by award-winning British-Nigerian playwright and screenwriter Ade Solanke and directed by Regge Life, an Emmy-nominated producer, director, and writer, Phillis in Boston, is an original new play dramatizing the life of celebrated poet and author Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley grew up as a slave to a prominent Boston family and was the first African-American to publish a volume of poetry in 1773.

Canvas Studio (Ongoing)

Photo Credit Canvas Studio

Canvas Studio is a creative way to enjoy Boston’s nightlife. It is an immersive and innovative space that includes ticketed events and private bookings for paint night experiences, splatter and paint parties and more.

Buy Black. Buy Local. Holiday Marketplace (November 25, December 2, 9, 16, 23, 2023)

Photo Credit Black Owned Bos.

The Holiday Marketplace, hosted by Black Owned Bos., is a great way to celebrate the holiday season while supporting Black business. It takes place every Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm at The Underground Cafe + Lounge. The event features goods from local Black vendors, food, raffles, and family friendly activities.

BLACK BEANTOWN FOOD

Black owned foodspots

The Pearl

Photo Credit The Pearl.

Owned by two local couples, the Pearl features creative mixed drinks, seafood grill, and raw bar with great ambience. Named after a family member, The Pearl aims to be a hidden jewel in the neighborhood.

Cafe Juice UP

Photo Credit Cafe Juice Up and The Bay State Banner.

Providing healthier choices for the community, Cafe Juice UP offers smoothies, acai bowls, and juices that draw from the Caribbean heritage of its Mattapan neighborhood.

Grace by Nia

Photo Credit BostonChefs.com

Grace Nia is a modern lounge and bar in the Boston Seaport District that features a soul infused menu that includes Creole seafood gumbo, Cajun jambalaya and molasses-braised oxtails with grits. The venue nurtures Boston’s local artists by showcasing live jazz, soul, and R&B.

Le Foyer Bakery

Photo Credits Pamela Leins, Mary Carmona, and Moge Tee.

A staple in the community, Le Foyer was founded by Edna Etienne who flew to Haiti in the 1970s to take culinary classes and to educate herself about opening up a bakery. Saturdays are the best times to grab a fresh savory bite of Haitian meat patties and other baked goods.

Cathay Pacific

Not Black owned but this Chinese restaurant just minutes outside of Boston features great local R&B bands performing on Friday & Saturdays.

Black Beantown is a series from Beyond Wordz founder, Johane Alexis-Phanor, that aims to reimagine Boston, especially the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan as a Black cultural mecca for travelers from all around the world. It seeks to celebrate the rich Black history and cultural legacy of Boston that has been hidden for far too long. Black Beantown is written from the perspective that Boston’s Black cultural capital is a key asset that can be used to close the City’s racial wealth gap and drive economic prosperity for all of Boston but especially its Black residents.

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Johane Alexis-Phanor

I write about racial & gender equity, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, faith, and mental health to empower Black communities | Fundraising Consultant