25+ Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

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Every U.S. President since 1976 has designated the month of February as Black History Month, along with an accompanying theme. This year’s theme being Black Health and Wellness. Also known as African-American History Month, this annual celebration gives us the perfect opportunity to support black-owned businesses in Chicago and recognize the achievements and contributions of African-Americans to the success of our city. We’ve gathered a wide-range of virtual and in-person events, walking tours, exhibitions, activities and learning opportunities to honor Black History Month with kids in Chicago. Let’s celebrate!

MUSIC & FILM

Chicago Children’s Choir

Chicago Children’s Choir
Chicago Children’s Choir is presenting a free virtual Black History Month concert, Preserving and Persevering, on Feb. 26. Preserving and Persevering explores how the power of black music has been a cultural key in both preserving African traditions in America and in helping millions persevere in the face of racial injustice. Online: ccchoir.org

Chicago Public Libary
Celebrate Black History Month with a Virtual Jeopardy-style trivia game highlighting the most influential African-Americans in the world, Feb. 7. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

College of DuPage
Experience two hours of nostalgia and joy with the heartfelt musical journey at McInich Art Center’s Whitney Houston Tribute, Feb. 4. Online: atthemac.org

ART

Art Institute of Chicago (ARTIC)

Southside Community Arts Center
We Are Here: Women in the Center’s Collection features artworks made by women artists in the Center’s collection. The exhibition provides an opportunity to think about the materiality of Black women’s art, while also expanding biographical and visual information on Black women artists. Online: sscartcenter.org

The Art Institute of Chicago
Artist Bisa Butler’s portraits quilts vividly capture personal and historical narratives of black life. Art Institute of Chicago displayed 20 of her works in 2021 and you can watch a video of the exhibit. Online: youtube.com

Cleve Carney Museum of Art
The Cleve Carney Museum of Art located on the College of DuPage campus presents Ayanah Moore: I Wish I Could Be You More Often, Feb. 10-Apr. 10. Moor is an artist whose work explores blackness, gender, desire and language. Online: theccma.org/ayanah-moor

MUSEUM EXHIBITS

Field Museum

Museum of Science & Industry
MSI’s Black Creativity: Juried Art Exhibition is the nation’s longest-running exhibition of African-American Art, presenting nearly 200 works of art from emerging and established African American artists, thru Apr. 14. Online: msichicago.org

The Field Museum
The Field Museum is hosting a variety of online programs throughout February that highlight and amplify Black voices and stories. The live and pre-recorded events include a mix of Black History-themed behind-the-scenes tours, virtual exhibition viewings, and panel discussions with museum scholars. Online: fieldmuseum.org

DuSable Museum of African American History
The groundbreaking immersive, The March, recreates one of the most iconic moments in American history, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The video features a selection of noteworthy individuals and activists reading sections of the speech, underscoring the parallels between the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s and the global non-violent demonstrations of today. Online: dusablemuseum.org

American Writers Museum
Originally on view at the American Writers Museum in 2019, Frederick Douglass: Agitator is now available virtually. Visitors can see the original content from the exhibit that explores the later life of writer and orator Frederick Douglass, learn about his use of portraiture, download curriculum and more. Online: americanwritersmuseum.org

LANDMARKS & MONUMENTS

Victory Monument via Choose Chicago

Monument to the Great Northern Migration
At Martin Luther King Jr. Drive & 26th Place, you’ll find Alison Saar’s bronze figure that stands as a testament to the thousands of African-Americans who migrated to Chicago in the early 20th century in search of greater freedom and opportunity. One of the traveler’s hands is raised in salutation to his new home and in his other hand, he carries a suitcase symbolic of his journey, dreams and talents. The statue is oriented to the north to symbolize the traveler’s destination. Online: chicago.gov

Victory Monument
The Victory Monument is one of the most famous landmarks for Chicago’s African-American Community and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. The monument was built to honor the 8th Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, which became the 370th Infantry of the 93rd Division upon the start of World War 1. They saw action in France as the last regiment pursuing retreating German Forces in the Aisne-Marne region just before the war broke. Online: choosechicago.com

Obama’s Kissing Rock
Black History Month also happens to encompass Valentine’s Day. So, in the spirit of marrying the two, visit the sweetest Presidential memorial. On. The. Planet. Barack and Michelle Obama shared their first kiss in 1989 in front of a once-upon-a-time Baskin-Robbins on Chicago’s southside and it’s been commemorated with a simple rock with a metallic plaqueOnline: atlasobscura.com

Home of Emmett Till
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American who became an icon of the civil rights movement after he was lynched while visiting Mississippi in 1955. The South Side Home (6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave.) he shared with his mother was granted landmark status this past January to shield it from demolition or alteration. This is the first step for non-profit owners Blacks in Green to convert the home into a museum.

Bronzeville Walk of Fame
The honorees in the Bronzeville Walk of Fame have made extraordinary contributions to the African-American community, including Ida B. Wells, Gwendolyn Brooks, and astronaut Robert H. Lawrence. Ninety-one bronze plaques on medians, sidewalks and crosswalks stretch 10 blocks and the Monument to the Great Northern Migration and Victory Monument frame the permanent outdoor exhibit. Online: enjoyillinois.com

FOOD

iStock

Chicago Black Restaurant Week
The 6th annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week runs Feb. 6-20 and celebrates the city’s black-owned restaurants with incredible food and delicious deals. Check their website for a list of participating restaurants. Online: chiblackrestaurantweek.com

Mariano’s
Mariano’s is honoring Black History Month with a line-up of events celebrating influential members in the Black food community. Online: marianos.com

EVENTS, ACTIVITIES & ONLINE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Chicago Public Libary
Join Ms. Anna via Zoom for Preschool Storytime featuring stories, songs and activities honoring traditional African American rhymes, authors and history. Offered Wednesdays in February. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Chicago Public Libary’s monthly craft program will focus on Black History Month with clay model constellations celebrating Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel into space, Feb. 5. Online:chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Celebrate African American Heritage Month with fun crafts related to African American culture, Feb. 7, 14 & 28. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Ms. Leslie from the Brainerd Branch will test your knowledge with an African American History Trivia Game for kids, offered Thursdays in February. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

On Feb. 16, PIck up a Healing Bead Bracelet Grab and Go Kit complete with supplies and instructions in celebration of African American Heritage Month and its 2022 focus on mental health and physical awareness. Create the bracelet at your leisure and then join a Zoom presentation with Miss Stephanie on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Visit the Wrightwood-Ashburn branch of the Chicago Public Libary to pick up a pack of mini scratch pads to create African-themed drawings and patterns, Feb. 22. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Learn about famous African American Inventors and get hands-on with exciting activities and experiments via  Zoom with the Chicago Public Libary, Feb. 22. Online: chipublib.bibliocommons.com

Visit the Chicago Public Libary website for more Black History Month events and activities. 

iStock

Chicago Park District

Chicago Park District is hosting a Black History Month Celebration at Foster Park with cultural activities, art, games and an oral presentation, Feb. 24. 

Zoom with Chicago Park District for a one-hour interactive virtual program presenting a variety of art from dance and theater to poetry and music to highlight the achievements of historical African American heroes, Feb. 24.

A celebration at Loyola Park will include black-owned businesses located in Rogers Park, music, spoken words, historical remembrances and a pop-up display featuring artwork by Chicago Public School students and other educational programs, Feb. 27. 

Visit the Chicago Park District website for on-demand activities and the “Named in Their Honor” series featuring iconic individuals with namesake parks that contributed to the fabric of our city.

— Maria Chambers

Featured Photo: Chicago Children’s Choir

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