February is known as Black History Month. It is now a holiday that’s been declared by every American President since 1976. Famously, back in 1926, the concept of Black History Month was initially established by Carter G. Woodson (also known as “Father of Black History) in our beloved Chicago.
As we ring in Black History Month, it’s important to acknowledge and help work to overcome the issues and inequalities still plaguing the Black community today. As former President Barack Obama said, Black history is ‘inextricability tied to American history itself’ with countless individuals changing this country for the better.
Chicago is a city filled with a rich cultural landscape, and there are so many special events and celebrations happening around town– from learning about Black history with featured talks to fun concerts, museum exhibits, and spotlighting Black-owned restaurants, there are so many ways to support and honor Black History in Chicago this month and every month!
See a show around Chicago
From historic musicals to laugh-out-loud improv and more, there are so many fantastic live shows, such as Second City’s Dance Likes There’s Black People Watching: A Black Excellence Revue: a series based around Black joy.
Celebrating 30 Years of Africa Hall on February 20th, at the Field Museum featuring a performance by the Muntu Dance Theater. Ps: Museum admission is free for Illinois residents.
Attend a series of stirring performances
See 1619: The Journey of a People. Performing at the ETA Creative Arts Foundation on February 25th, the musical goes through the journey of the enslaved Africans who landed in Virginia in 1619. Highlighting how they changed the course of history, take in a series of stunning jazz, blues, and hip-hop performances you won’t want to miss.
On February 26th, Celebrate with Feeling Good: A M.A.D.D Rhythms Tribute to Nina Simone with tap, music, and narration honoring the “High Priestess of Soul” at the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
Grab tickets to the Goodman Theatre now through February 26th to learn about the true story of Toni Stone, the first woman to play baseball professionally as she worked against racism and sexism.
Other performances include Queens of The Policy at the Harold Washington Cultural Center from February 17-19– highlighting an enterprising 1940s woman who ran policy in Chicago.
The South Side Jazz Coalition is hosting a free jazz concert to celebrate Black History Month on February 14. The program aptly titled A Jazz Celebration of Black History Month will be held at Compassion Baptist Church featuring classics by the SSJC All-Stars. Address: 2650 E 95th St, Chicago, IL 60617
On February 26, head over to a concert celebrating Black History Month, Featuring interactive art like body painting, photography, and a live DJ, Afrofuturism Stage: Chicago is a live dance concert at The Promontory in Hyde Park presented by Electro Afro Stage. Address: 5311 South Lake Park Avenue West Chicago, IL 60615
Support local Black-owned businesses
An innovative pop-up bookstore, Narrative – A Semicolon Concept at The Gray, starting this past Friday at The Kimpton Gray Hotel, Semicolon, the fantastic Black woman-owned bookstore is coming out to support Chicago Public School students. They’re setting up shop too, as they’ll be open at this location Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 PM to 6 PM for the rest of the month. This pop-up will also serve as a drop-off location for new and gently used books! Or, visit their brick-and-mortar store at 515 N. Halsted St.
After, head over to the Navy Pier to shop local artisans at The Navy Pier’s Black Makers Market. They’ll also feature a Black Live Artist Studio where artists come together to create or perform pieces in real-time. https://navypier.org/
See an online screening of a home movie project with the Chicago Public Library on February 22nd. The Chicago Public Library is hosting an online Zoom screening with the South Side Home Movie Project to show “Black Lives on the South Side” where viewers can watch film clips from the 1920s-1980s. Registration is required to attend the online event.
Attend Chicago’s Black Restaurant Week
Enjoy food from a range of Black-owned restaurants this February 12 through the 26th as the city celebrates Chicago Black Restaurant Week. Experience two full weeks of special deals and discounts at any of the participating restaurants. https://chiblackrestaurantweek.com/
See exhibits at any of Chicago’s incredible Museums
From the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center to the Museum of Contemporary Art, there are so many poignant exhibits that honor Black history.