To commemorate 2017 Black History Month, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., (DGRI) asked locals to share their stories and knowledge of African-American leadership, culture and community in Grand Rapids. The result? An interactive, self-guided walking tour that highlights some of the historical moments of the African American experience and legacy in Grand Rapids. 

The Black History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids encompasses two miles and is narrated by City Commissioner and Grand Rapids Urban League President, Joe Jones. The tour features 11 points of interest, including stops at the historic Fountain Street Church, which has hosted Malcolm X and Langston Hughes, and Crescent Park, where the urban renewal legacy of Lyman Parks, Grand Rapids’ first African American mayor, is still seen in the city’s ever-expanding skyline. 

Statue of Mayor Lyman Parks, first African American mayor of Grand Rapids
This statue of Mayor Lyman Parks, Grand Rapids' first African American mayor, stands outside the City/County Administration Buildings and is one of the stops on the Black History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids. Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids

DGRI and GR Walks partnered to produce the tour. Organizations including Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives, Grand Rapids Urban League, Grand Rapids Public Library and the Grand Rapids Public Museum helped with researching and shaping the tour. 

Take this tour, or other GR Walks tours, any time by downloading the GR Walks smart phone app.

Black History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids map
This handy map of the Black History Tour of Downtown Grand Rapids shows all 11 stops. Courtesy of Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.