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Our West Side Story


City's black history impacts all corners of community

Culture, history of west side permeates city from its very beginning

Since the very beginning, the Black culture has been an integral part of Port Arthur, shaping its history and contributing to its unique cultural identity. From the early days of the city’s development, African Americans residents impacted business and industry, education, entertainment, and religion. The tight-knit community on the west side of Port Arthur imprinted its rich heritage across the city, enriching the cultural fabric of Port Arthur. Today, the Black community represented across the entire expanse of the city, remains an important and celebrated part of Port Arthur’s diverse community.

The Black community has played an integral role in the history and culture of Port Arthur. In the early 20th century, many African Americans migrated from the rural South to work in the city’s oil refineries and chemical plants. They faced discrimination and segregation, but they also formed tight-knit communities and contributed to the city’s growth and development.

Together the Black community fought for civil rights. In the 1960s, local activists fought for equal rights and desegregation, including the desegregation of the city’s schools. The efforts of these activists helped to bring about positive change in the city and contributed to the larger struggle for civil rights in the United States.

Today, the Black community continues to be an important part of Port Arthur’s culture. Many of the city’s most popular festivals and events, such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events and Juneteenth celebrations, celebrate the achievements and contributions of the Black community. Many Port Arthur businesses, some a century old, were critical to the consistent financial and physical growth of the city. Churches and community organizations represent Black Port Arthurans, providing a strong backbone to a community that every day impacts the best of the City by the Sea.

The African American community in Port Arthur has made impacts that span across racial and cultural lines. Early businesses that once served primarily the community on the West Side of the city, now flourish across all areas of the city. African Americans hold leadership roles in government, education, religion, and industry. Without Port Arthur's Black citizens, the city would not be where it is today, nor would it succeed into the future.