Portland

Black in Portland: Things to Do, Where to Eat, and Places to Go

Black in Portland

Portland, Oregon is known as the “City of Roses.” However, things can get a bit thorny for visiting Black travelers. While Portland is exalted as being a progressive and inclusive place, the reality is more complex. Black Portlanders make up less than 6% of the population. A number so small, Black vacationers will ask, “Where are all the Black people in Portland?” Despite frequent displacement, the Black Portland community continues to leave their unique mark on the city. Here are some of our favorite black-owned businesses in Portland, Oregon.

Food & Drinks in Portland, Oregon

DB Dessert Company
6824 NE Glisan St.
Portland, OR 97213
www.dbdessertcompany.com 

DB Dessert company is a fun bakery that specializes in custom cakes, elaborate cupcakes, and holiday pies. The small business also caters for special events. It will be hard to choose between a lemon cake pop, chocolate covered oreos, or a “crazy” milkshake with a cupcake of your choice perched atop of the straw. Whatever sweet treat you decide on, your tummy will surely bow down to you.

 

 

 

Elevated Coffee Co.
5261 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Portland, OR 97211
elevatedcoffeemlk.com

In Portland, coffee is serious business, you better come correct or not at all. While corporate Starbucks tends to get all the praise, it is really independent coffee spots that are the spark of the Northwest. This includes Elevated Coffee Company. It’s common to see coworkers catching up with americanos or a loner admiring the decor, as they munch on a homemade blueberry waffle. “To be elevated means that you’ve risen to a higher place–above the normal” is the motto of Elevated Coffee Co., and they don’t disappoint.

 

Santé Bar
411 NW Park Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
www.facebook.com/PDXSanteBar

Santé Bar is a cozy cocktail bar in NW Portland. It’s located a few blocks from a MAX stop, Portland’s Light Rail Service. Owner, Veronique LaFont, is known to greet and chat with guests. Besides serving eclectic drinks, Santé Bar provides a selection of meat and cheese plates, roasted veggies, and dessert of the day!

 

 

 

Hair & Beauty in Portland, Oregon

Conscious Coils owner, Amber Starks

Conscious Coils
1033 SW Yamhill St. #103
Portland, OR 97205
www.consciouscoils.com

In 2012, owner Amber Starks, started a community movement to change Oregon laws regarding natural hair. It had been illegal to style natural hair without a cosmetology license. The Natural Hair Act Oregon HB3409 was passed and soon after, Starks opened her beauty shop. The services offered are braiding, locs installation/maintenance, twists outs, and natural hair classes. Conscious Coils is located in quirky downtown Portland.

 

Terrell Brandon’s Barber Shop
1330 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR 97211

This barber shop is owned by Portlander and retired NBA player, Terrell Brandon. It’s one of the few remaining Black owned places on gentrified Alberta, now renamed The Alberta Arts District. The shop is frequently abuzz with laughter, sports talk, and political musings. A welcoming spot to get a haircut, in the heart of a former historically Black neighborhood.

Doing Business in Portland, Oregon

openHAUS Coworking
5020 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Portland, OR 97211
openhauspdx.com

Do you need to do a little bit of work on your trip? Check out openHAUS, a coworking space. You can pay a drop in fee. openHAUS encourages collaboration, community, and consciousness. Visitors will have access to coffee/snacks, conference room, boutique photo studio, and more! On Fridays, free coworking is available for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Arts & Culture in Portland, Oregon

Palette42 at LLoyd Center
2201 LLoyd Center
Portland, OR 97232
www.mypeoplesmarket.com

Palette42 started as a pop-up from My People’s Market. Palette “is a collective of multicultural brands..to increase growth and visibility.” It now has a permanent home at Lloyd Center, the largest mall in Portland. The shop features vendors such as Mimi’s Fresh Tees, Essence of Africa Style and Soapbox Theory. It’s a great opportunity to support local businesses of color.

Co-directors, Maya Vivas and Leila Haile

Ori Gallery
4038 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR 97217
www.oriartgallery.com

Ori Gallery celebrated a year anniversary this past winter. Co-directors, Leila Haile and Maya Vivas, wanted to create a space uplifting the talents of Trans and Queer Artists of Color. The gallery has hosted a photography exhibit honoring Black women/femmes, a viewing party for Netflix’s POSE, and a Black Nerd Club. Ori Gallery is located on Mississippi Avenue, a popular street filled with bars, eateries, and vintage stores.

Black History in Portland, Oregon

Billy Webb Elks Lodge
6 N Tillamook St.
Portland, OR 97227
billywebbelkslodge.com

The Billy Webb Elks Lodge is “considered one of the most significant African American historic buildings in the Pacific Northwest.” It was named after a Black musician, who lead an African American Elks band. The lodge would later become a meeting place for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League, as well as social events.

Vanport City, daily vacation Bible School, 8/21/1943. Image Source: oregonencyclopedia.org

The Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave.
Portland, OR 97205
www.ohs.org

The Oregon Historical Society hosts a permanent exhibit on The Vanport Flood. The 1948 storm displaced a thriving Black community in Vanport, Oregon. Over 6,000 Black residents were forced to move to Portland. The city was less than welcoming to their new Black population. Yet, despite the harsh racism they faced, Black Portlanders resisted. Their resilience lead them to establish neighborhoods (in N/NE Portland) and build businesses.

*The Oregon Historical Society is not a black-owned business.

 

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