18 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

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18 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

By Susan Mack

Black History Month (African American History Month) takes place every February as a reminder of the role that African Americans play in American culture, history, and ongoing stories. It is a celebration of the incalculable contributions Black Americans have made over the years and a remembrance of the different legacies and achievements that past generations have left behind.

For most African Americans, Black History Month is a time to enjoy Black achievements, history, and creativity. This article highlights the best Black-owned businesses, Black-led organizations, special exhibits, and events that will feature in Chicago during Black History Month.

The Importance of Black History Month

Black History Month dates back to 1915, following the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment. Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland would then form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), whose objective was to research and promote achievements made by Black Americans and people of African descent.

In 1926, National Negro History week was introduced. The event became popularized by schools and communities, eventually leading up to what we witness today.

This year's Black History theme is "Black Resistance." It focuses on African Americans' continued resistance to historical and ongoing oppression. You can immerse yourself in the culture by visiting and supporting the following businesses, events, and exhibits that will feature in Chicago during Black History Month.

Black-owned Businesses in Chicago That You Can Visit

Supporting Black-owned businesses will be an important step towards closing the racial, strengthening local communities, and elevating black voices. Here are some of them.

Cleo's Southern Cuisine

Chef Kristen Ashley has successfully turned Cleo's Southern Cuisine (located in Bronzeville) into a top destination due to her impressive Creole and southern-style food. Born and raised in the neighborhood, the chef brings a family vibe to the business that only employs her family members.

Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles

Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles has two locations: Bronzeville and Oak Park. This iconic restaurant runs a diverse menu with plenty of options. Aside from the chicken and waffles combo, you can also order the Omelets & Skillets combination, or some of the classic Soul Food options from the menu.

Carver 47 Food & Wellness Market

Like Cleo's Southern Cuisine, Carver 47 is a casual café that serves the local community. You can visit the place if you're a fan of healthy and soulful offerings or if you wish to connect with Lizz Wright, an acclaimed vocalist who also serves as the restaurant's culinary director. Carver 47 additionally invites guests to celebrate the life of Dr. George Washington Carver and check out their art gallery.

The Chicago Mahogany Tours

The Chicago Mahogany Tours is owned by Dilla, an African American entrepreneur who also goes by the name Chicago's TikTok Historian. This event is for you if you want to take biweekly tours of Chi-Town's South Side Black neighborhoods. You can purchase Groupon tickets with friends and visit areas such as the Wabash YMCA, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Semicolon Bookstore

This is Chicago's only bookstore that is owned by a Black woman. The business supports artwork and literature produced by female, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC creatives and is a community space where such vices can be heard. You might also be impressed by the fact that Semicolon Bookstore has been providing financial aid to people living in Chicago's low-income communities of color so they can improve their literacy levels.

Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Having lived in Chicago for two decades, Tigist Reda decided to start this traditional Ethiopian cuisine outlet in the Uptown neighborhood. The restaurant has been in operation since 2007 and features a typical Ethiopian menu. For example, you can try the Spinach Sambussas, the combo platter, or Demera (if you are vegan).

Black-led Organizations (Non-profits) in Chicago That You Can Support

Let's now look at some of the leading Black-led non-profits you can support during Black History Month.

Assata's Daughters

This non-profit is based in Washington Park and is aimed at building power and influence amongst young Black women and gender non-conforming community members. By focusing on Black feminism, Assata's Daughters imparts the target demographic with political education and leadership development to negate the adverse effects of "anti-Blackness" in Chicago.

Chicago West Community Music Center

The Chicago West Community Music Center inspires artistic and cultural expression among Chicago's underserved youth, especially in the city's West Side. For 20 years, the community music center has helped spread music business instruction in genres such as classical and jazz. The objective is to elevate lives through music education.

My Block My Hood My City

This is another non-profit organization that targets young people in Chicago's under-resourced neighborhoods. My Block My Hood My City fosters education through economic and social amenities such as STEM subjects, civic engagement, volunteering, and community development. Youths are also encouraged to immerse themselves in foreign cultures and cuisines and to visit other neighborhoods for added exposure. 

Affinity Community Services

This Black and queer-led non-profit organization seeks social justice for the Southside's Black LGBTQ+ communities. The founders focus on imparting education, organizing community events, intergenerational programming, and seeking healing justice for this target demographic. Their operations continue to create avenues for collective action where Black LGBTQ+ women get transformative justice, especially concerning the health disparities that plague these communities. 

The TRiiBE

The TRiiBE, whose motto is "Reshaping the narrative of Black Chicago," encourages young Black people to create documentaries and engage in journalism that tells their stories. The non-profit was particularly vocal at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. Young people used their artistic skills to expose public health inequalities within African American communities in the South and West Sides.

Resident Association Of Greater Englewood (RAGE.) 

RAGE focuses on addressing community challenges by creating practical solutions through resident-driven responses. The organization also keeps Black residents in Chicago informed on important matters to ensure that everyone gets the help they deserve.

Black-themed Museum Exhibits in Chicago

In the following sections, we cover some of the Black-themed Museum exhibits and events you can attend this month. 

DuSable Museum of African American History

What makes the DuSable Museum of African American History extraordinary is the fact that it is the premier independent museum to on the history of Africans and Americans of African descent within the United States. In addition, this Black-owned Museum features various concerts, films, exhibits, and literary discussions.

Be sure to attend these and more events that will be held at the museum this February:

  • Wisdom Wednesdays Lunch & Learn: February 1, 2023, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • History of Black Photography: February 8, 2023, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
  • The Torture Letters: February 22, 2023, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Black Creativity: Architecture at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Black Creativity: Architecture exhibit focuses on the impact of Black architects over the years. After you visit, you will get to see famous buildings' models and interactive timelines of important structures. Some of the featured architects are Georgia Louise H. Brown and Roberta Washington.

Black History Month at The Field Museum

This February, The Field Museum (found along Lake Shore Drive) will hold virtual interactive sessions where visitors will hear from guest speakers, collaborators, and staff members. The focus will be on the lived experiences within museums and the sciences.

South Side Community Art Center

This community center focuses on preserving and progressing Black Art. Some exhibits on display during Black History Month include ARE HERE: Women in the Center's Collection and THE UNDERWORLD: George Crump.

Black-themed Shows and Events

The following shows and events will also be available:

Chicago Black Restaurant Week

As the only event of its kind in Chicago, the Chicago Black Restaurant Week will take place on February 6–20 to help support small businesses, especially Black-owned restaurants. You can check out the participant restaurants from their website. 

"Virgil Forever"—A tribute to Virgil Abloh

This will be a collaboration between Time Out Market and B Line Projects on February 12, 2023, to celebrate the late Virgil Abloh, the first Black fashion designer to work as Louis Vuitton's artistic director. The event will feature an art mural and a panel discussion regarding Abloh's influence within Chicago's fashion, art, and music community.

Entry at the event, whose focus will be to promote equity and inclusion among Black people by offering fashion scholarships, will be free.

Wrapping Up

Black History Month is a celebration of the role African Americans and other peoples of African descent have played in American culture, history, and ongoing stories. This guide covers some of the leading Chicago businesses, non-profits, exhibitions, and events that feature this year. We hope this list offers comprehensive coverage of sites and goings-on that will enable you to appreciate Black achievements, history, and creativity.

At Pangea Real Estate, we own and manage various multifamily buildings and apartment communities, studio through 5-bedroom apartments, and a few townhomes. Contact us today for inquiries or call us at 312-985-0806.

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