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Black History Month: Wa Na Wari

In celebration of Black History Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and events connected to the history of Seattle’s Black community.

For more than 50 years, the blue Craftsman located at 911 24th Ave in the Central District was home to many different extended family members of Frank and Goldyn Green, who purchased the house in 1951. When Inye Wokoma became the guardian of his family’s estate in 2016, he began planning a way to keep the home in his family for perpetuity. Wokoma, a photographer and filmmaker, and a team of other local artists transformed the 5th-generation Black-owned home into Wa Na Wari, a community art space that “reclaims Black cultural space and makes a statement about the importance of Black land ownership in gentrified communities.”

In the Ijo language of southern Nigeria, Wa Na Wari means “our home” and refers to the idea of home as “a place where one can feel rooted in the metaphysical sense of the word.” In the same way the door was always open to generations of Wokoma’s family, Wa Na Wari is a welcoming space that is open for people to learn, work, study, play games, or just hang out. The walls and rooms are filled with art exhibits in a variety of different mediums focused on centering Black creativity and prioritizing experiences of Black joy and belonging. The space also hosts film screenings, performances, workshops, and readings.

Over the years, Wokoma has seen friends and relatives pushed out of the area due to gentrification. He states that holding a space in his family home to celebrate Black culture and creativity is way to pay tribute to his family and community at large. Wa Na Wari is a message that “their presence is recognized and valued.”

Indoor access to Wa Na Wari is currently closed to visitors, but outdoor installations are still open to the public. To learn more about the history and creation of Wa Na Wari, watch this recent profile video produced by Seattle Channel.