Black History Month is a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to American history and culture.
The celebration came about when the former son of slaves and University of Chicago and Harvard-trained historian and author, Carter G. Woodson, sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The week, which became a month—Black History Month—in 1976 has been on the February calendar ever since--inspiring schools, arts institutions and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances, events and lectures.
Chicago is at the forefront of this celebration showcasing a wide variety of events for all. Here are some of the highlights for Chicago’s Black History Month for February 2014.
Black Creativity at the Museum of Science and Industry
Black Creativity 2014 at the Museum of Science and Industry kicks off Black History Month in Chicago with a Juried Art Exhibition and a new Innovation Studio. The program is an annual Museum tradition, inviting students, teachers, families and the public to explore the legacy of rich contributions and achievements made by African Americans.
The MSI Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition features 85 dynamic works from both professional and amateur African-American artists from around the country, including nine youth artists between the ages of 14 to 17. The exhibition continues through February 23, 2014.
The new Innovation Studio, features a space for youth to experiment and explore new ideas through making. Powered by guests’ own curiosity and inspired by science-related challenges, guests will have access to a variety of materials and tools to create their solutions to issues. The space will be open to guests during the afternoons from 1 to 3:30 p.m. School and community groups may contact MSI to reserve a workshop in the mornings. Click here for a full list of events.
Black History Cruise
This February, Entertainment Cruises and the Spirit of Chicago celebrates Black History Month with a special narrated cruise. On this cruise, guests will learn about Black history in Chicago focused on music and entertainment, politics and more.
In addition, there will be live musical performances with covers of famous songs from iconic artists like Nat King Cole, Buddy Guy & Jennifer Hudson and a DJ featuring notable songs from African Americans.
The two-hour cruise includes a buffet along with historical narration, live song performances and amazing views of the Chicago skyline. Saturday, February 8 and Saturday, February 22, board 11:30 a.m. $51.90.
African American History Month at Chicago Public Library
Chicago Public Library is Celebrating Diversity during African American History Month, this February by observing the culture, heritage, contributions and achievements of African Americans. The public is invited to visit Chicago Public Library’s many locations to participate in a variety of free programs, special events and exhibits related to this rich history.
For a full list of the Library's 2014 African American History Month Calendar of Events, click here.
Navy Pier presents “People Get Ready” Celebrating Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Navy Pier is offering an afternoon of dance. Various styles of Black American Dances throughout history will be brought to life by the famed tap dance company, M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms. They will be joined by some of Chicago's best professional dance companies including Ayodele Drum And Dance, FootworKINGZ, Hip Hop ConnXion as well as youth companies M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew, Move Me Soul, Colored Girls Are Cover Girls, The World Performance Team and more. Sunday, February 23, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Crystal Gardens.
Chicago Theatre Productions Highlighting Black History
- Black Ensemble Theater is featuring Chicago’s Golden Soul (A 60’s Revue), running in rep with the hit production "It’s All-Right To Have A Good Time: The Story of Curtis Mayfield." Both productions are produced, directed and written by Black Ensemble Theater Founder and Executive Director Jackie Taylor. Chicago's Golden Soul opens in previews February 6.
- August Wilson’s "Seven Guitars" at Court Theatre is the haunting Century Cycle play about fate, justice and the blues playing in the backdrop of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948. The show has been receiving raves since its opening and continues at Court through February 16. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.; $45-$65, 773-753-4472.
- 'Queenie Pie' by Chicago Opera Theater showcases Duke Ellington's "Queenie Pie" that was originally written as a TV vehicle for Lena Horne, but remained unfinished at his death in 1974. This premiere production has been contemporized and turned into an opera by Chicago Opera Theater--promising to be something special. "Queenie Pie" was inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female African-American self-made millionaire, who made her fortune developing and selling women's hair and beauty products. February 15 to March 5 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive; $35-$125, 312-704-8414.
12 Years a Slave Film Screening and Discussion at DuSable Museum
A special film screening and discussion of the academy award nominated "12 Years a Slave" will take place at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets $5 plus $1.27 fee. For more information call 773 947-0600 EXT 255. February 20.
Wadada Leo Smith, Douglas Ewart and Mike Reed with Jazz at Constellation
Wadada Leo Smith, Douglas Ewart and Mike Reed, three important figures in 21st-century jazz, perform at Constellation. 9:30 p.m. February 28 and March 1. Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $15;
For further reference, publications and information on Black History click here.
Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email
If you would like to keep in touch with what's happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the "create subscription" button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.