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Where to celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

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Chicago is a place where Black history comes to life. From the blues, jazz, and gospel music that fills clubs and churches, to historic landmarks in the famed Bronzeville neighborhood, to a museum dedicated to our African American history and art, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate Black culture and heritage in Chicago.

While the city honors Black history all year round, February in particular is full of events, exhibits, and shows about the impact of the African American community in Chicago and around the world. Here are a few ways to observe Black History Month in Chicago.

Black Creativity juried art exhibition

This annual showcase of African American artists is celebrating 50 years as the nation’s longest-running exhibition of Black art. This year’s show features 200 works that include paintings, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and mixed media. A youth component spotlights the art of high school students aged 14 – 17. The Black Creativity Innovation Studio supplies the inspiration for turning everyday materials into special inventions and the Innovator Gallery displays the African American creative leaders who are transforming the city.

Black Creativity, through March 1
Museum of Science & Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive

Black History Month Celebration of Jazz concert

Jazz
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Photo by Chris Bair

Enjoy the wide-ranging talents of Chicago’s favorite jazz diva, Dee Alexander, in a show packed with the jazz classics, swing hits, and nuanced ballads that define the genre. Dee is noted for her mercurial ability to inhabit each song and transform the lyrics with her singular style.

Black History Month Celebration of Jazz, Feb. 13
University of Chicago International House, 1414 E. 59th St.

Troubled Waters: Chicago 1919 Race Riot exhibit

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Lucy Hewett for Choose Chicago

The pivotal history that altered Chicago’s political and racial landscape is examined with the exhibit. “Troubled Water: Chicago 1919 Race Riot.” The exhibit displays archival images and documentary materials that reveal the horrific event that started with the murder of Eugene Williams on July 27, 1919, and ended with an eight-day race riot. The display also included background information on the Great Migration and the racial tensions that simmered for years before the event.

Troubled Water: Chicago 1919 Race Riot, through Feb. 29
DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place

The Second City’s Black History Month Show

The cast of Second City's Black History Month Show 2020
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Robel Arega, Leila Gorstein, Max Thomas, Collette Gregory, Jillian Ebanks, Bill Letz

One of the world’s most famous comedy companies is presenting their Black History Month Show this February. The show puts a contemporary spin on decades’ worth of iconic sketches and songs created by some of the theater’s most notable African American alumni, including Sam Richardson, Keegan-Michael Key, Amber Ruffin, Tim Meadows, Edgar Blackmon, and many more.

Black History Month Show, select dates from Feb. 4 – March 11
The Second City’s UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave.

Black Heroes art exhibit

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Don’t miss Roger Carter’s artistic tribute to the Black men that have helped shape him. Black Heroes showcases paintings of everyday and famous men captured by the artist’s singular blend of street art and contemporary abstract expressionism. The exhibit opening also commemorates Gallery Guichards’s 15th year in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood.

Black Heroes, Feb. 21 – April 17
Gallery Guichard, 436 E. 47th St.

Conjuring: Black Histories in Jewelry exhibit

The center’s first-ever exhibit to explore jewelry related to Black diaspora, the display includes a mix of handmade designs produced during the 20th century by Black designers from the U.S, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Curator Lamar R. Gayles Jr. provides an overview of Black jewelry as cultural heritage and as artistic expression.

Conjuring: Black Histories in Jewelry, through Feb. 28
Southside Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave.

Black History Month at American Writer’s Museum

Frederick Douglass: Agitator at American Writers Museum
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Frederick Douglass: Agitator at American Writers Museum

Celebrate Black authors throughout U.S. history with special events and tours at the American Writers Museum. Embark on a free tour of the Frederick Douglass: Agitator exhibit; join a kid-friendly storytime featuring Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Langston Hughes; and attend talks, screenings, and discussions showcasing Black writers.

Black History Month events, all month long
American Writers Museum, 180 Michigan Ave.

Black History Month symphony performance

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The dazzling impact of the first international Black superstar, Josephine Baker, will be celebrated with a multidimensional performance by the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, Tsukasa Taiko percussion ensemble, and members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. “Le Tumulte Noire “ is a riveting film score by Chicago composer Renee Baker that reference’s Jospehine’s ground-breaking 1927 silent film “Siren of The Tropics” and her famous Paris revue.

Annual Celebration of National Black History Month, Feb. 29
Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

Unveiling Black Figures Film Series

Stony Island Arts Bank exterior
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Courtesy of Rebuild Foundation

This film series will commemorate Black History Month with screenings of three movies that explore the concealed contributions of Black history-makers in STEM. Featured films include Hidden Figures, Something the Lord Made, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Each screening will be followed by a discussion hosted by Duane Powell.

Unveiling Black Figures Film Series, Feb. 9,  16, and 23
Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.

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