Have you ever wondered how Black History Month got its start? Did you know the celebration has Chicago roots? Check out the “Origins of Black History Month,” by Daryl Michael Scott, Professor of History at Howard University, and learn more about Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History” and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life. If you’re more inclined to explore by tour you’re in luck because twice a month, staff from The Renaissance Collective lead guided tours of the former Wabash YMCA in the Bronzeville neighborhood where Woodson and his peers first came up with the idea for an annual celebration of Black history.
Once again, our partners at Choose Chicago have gathered a list of activities and destinations to help you navigate Black History Month celebrations throughout Chicago. Highlights include:
Chicago Children's Choir Virtual Concert
The Chicago Children’s Choir’s Black History Month Virtual Concert at 6pm on February 26th
By uniting participants from their school program with captivating guest speakers, members of the Neighborhood Choir program, and citywide ensembles, Dimension and Voice of Chicago, this dynamic educational program will animate and celebrate the vast and vivacious culture of the African Diaspora through a captivating blend of music, oration and history.
Chicago Black Restaurant Week
Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week features 39 participating restaurants and runs for two weeks(!) this year, through Jan. 20.
Lauran Smith (native Memphian) founded the event in 2015 when she decided that African American businesses needed their own week of support, allowing everyone to get a chance to taste the goodness in the community, where these businesses will share discounts on items of their choosing.
The March: Virtual Reality Exhibit
The March, is an immersive virtual reality exhibit at the DuSable Museum of African American History which takes visitors to a recreation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Become one of the 250,000-plus people who came to participate that day—and witness firsthand as Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech—in a genre-pushing virtual reality experience that draws on the personal stories of organizers and demonstrators who were there.
The Triibe, “a digital media platform that is reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago and giving ownership back to the people” and a resource well worth exploring in its own right, also highlights 5 Black History events to enrich your knowledge.
Working in the Schools, a local nonprofit that provides mentoring resources to students throughout the city also gathered a page full of resources like their list of Ten Nonfiction books written by and about African Americans and their previous compilation Celebrating History with Eight Biographies.
Check out the University of Chicago Smart Museum of Art’s upcoming (opening February 15) exhibit on visionary African American painter, Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine.
On Saturday February 26th, the Museum of Science and Industry will host a Black Creativity Career Showcase, featuring African American artists, scientists, and engineers at work in Chicago right now
Chicago is home to hundreds of black-owned and operated businesses and there are two wonderful websites that list them for you in different formats:
- The first is a Google-doc with black-owned businesses sorted by neighborhood or business type
- And the second is a searchable SHOP BLACK OWNED Map
For those who’d rather ‘Celebrate from Home:’
- Chicago’s own American Writers Museum presents A reading of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”
- The Field Museum and DuSable Museum of African American History held a virtual discussion about Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s contributions and role in the settling of Chicago
- PBS has Ten Must-Watch Black History Documentaries
- Garfield Park Conservatory has created a virtual tour that celebrates Black History through the lens of the Conservatory’s collection