Explore historic sites commemorating Black history in Arizona

A Phoenix activist launched the Black History Month Mural Project last year.
A Phoenix activist launched the Black History Month Mural Project last year.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Jun. 17, 2023 at 12:40 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (Stacker) - The legacies of influential Black Americans have not always been acknowledged, so it’s not uncommon for modern-day residents to overlook the historic sites of their cities.

While some historical Black figures in the U.S. are more well-known than others, there are, in fact, thousands of people dating back generations to 17th-century slavery who left traces of their visions and impacts all across the country. Whether prominent figures such as Robert Abbott, who founded one of the most prominent African American newspapers in the country, or more under-the-radar originators such as Obrey Wendell Hamlet, who cultivated unique vacation experiences in the Rocky Mountains, one thing’s for sure: There is far more uncharted Black history in this country than charted.

Using the National Register of Historic Places, Stacker identified historic sites commemorating Black history across 47 states. North Dakota, Vermont, Hawaii, and Wyoming did not have Black landmark sites listed on the registry. While some states, especially in the South, are home to many sites central to the civil rights movement, Stacker listed the total sites in every state and the names of three historic sites where available. You can visit the entire registry of 232 historic sites and explore the Civil Rights Trail to learn about additional locations across the U.S.

There are 4 Sites commemorating Black history in the Phoenix area and Valley region.

  1. Dr. Lucius Charles Alston House - Mesa - Dr. Alston was the first African American physician to practice in Mesa. He served in World War I and opened up his medical practice upon his return to the States. Despite living in a segregated area, he did all those who couldn’t afford care elsewhere. He continued to practice until his death on Sept. 16, 1958. According to Salt River Stories, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now hosts the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens and the Mesa Martin Luther King Celebration Committee.
  2. Carver High School - Phoenix - Originally known as “Phoenix Union Colored High School,” this school was the only school built for African American students in the state. It was built in 1926 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The sports teams were not allowed to integrate with white sports teams until much later, although there were games between Mexican and Indigenous students. The school was fully integrated in 1954. Now there’s a museum on the school grounds called “George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.”
  3. Swindall Tourist Inn - Phoenix was a lodging house for Black Americans traveling through the area. Many hotels in the region rejected Black tourists, causing locals to open private boarding houses instead.
  4. Historic Tanner Chapel AME Church or Tanner Chapel - Phoenix - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech to this church. Built in 1929, the congregation itself has existed since 1886. Click here to learn more about the church.
  5. Eastlake Park - Phoenix - Phoenix’s oldest park was an early gathering spot for Black Phoenicians. Booker T. Washington gave a speech at the Great Emancipation Jubilee in 1911.

To the South, you can learn more about the Black community’s impact on Phoenix and the Southwest at the African American Museum of Southern Arizona on the University of Arizona Campus in Tucson. This article has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.