On the bicentennial of the United States in 1976, President Gerald Ford first recognized Black History Month and encouraged Americans to recognize the overlooked achievements of African Americans in all areas of American history. Ten years later, Congress designated February as National Black History Month, honoring black history and building awareness of the struggle for freedom and opportunity.
A great way to mark Black History Month is to support local Black-owned businesses in your community. If you don’t know where to start, here are some great examples of black-owned businesses in Utah that are worth visiting.
Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen
At Sauce Boss Southern Kitchen, chef and owner Julius Thompson serves classic soul food, including blackened pork chops, shrimp and grits, black-eyed peas and candied yams. Thompson’s menu is inspired by the meals he remembers his grandmother and aunt making in the kitchen. That inspiration led to Sauce Boss being recently named Best Soul Food in Utah for 2022. This restaurant is even featured on Diners Drive-in and Dives in 2021!
Located in Sugarhouse, this womenswear boutique owned by sisters Angelique and Jasmine Gordon is dedicated to helping everyone feel good in their own skin. Both sisters have backgrounds in fashion and beauty and offer affordable personal styling services by appointment or at your door. The Sugarhouse boutique also has an extensive clothing line to match a variety of styles.
Founder Sherrita “Rita” Magalade, who was born in New York City and raised in North Carolina, looks back fondly on her family travels in New York, which gave her an appreciation for other cultures. This appreciation grew as she worked at a Greek-owned restaurant and learned to make baklava throughout high school and college. Rita’s love of baklava led the baker to start her own business, which is now a thriving national business, delivering artisan handcrafted baklava direct from Draper, Utah to the customer’s door.
Ms. Essie grew up on family farms in the South during the apartheid era, where she learned how to cook great barbecue using family recipes passed down through generations. Eventually, the recipe was passed on to her grandson, Marcus Jones, who now produces barbecue sauce recipes for customers in flavors like real honey, apple cider vinegar and Southern flavors. All of these can be found and purchased at your local Smiths grocery store. The company also offers BBQ catering, serving country-style ribs, tri-tip and smoked chicken.
Utah Black History Museum
The Utah Black History Museum is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of local and national black history, and is a great place to start if you want to learn more about black history in February. The museum uses a bus that will tour the state throughout the month, showcasing the unrecognized efforts and victories of African Americans. This exhibit can also be scheduled to provide a tailored experience for groups eager to learn about black history.