13 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

This month, there is no shortage of ways to honor African American history. From concerts and museums to opportunities to reflect and learn at home with family, here are 13 ways to honor Black History Month around Chicago.


Feb. 20: Adler After Dark: A Night in the Afrofuture 2.0

Time: 6 p.m.

Cost: Adults $25, Members $12.50

Adler Planetarium Black History Month Better Chicago
Adler Planetarium

Those 21+ can enjoy full access to the Adler Planetarium during the popular After Dark series, this time dedicated to Afrofuturisma cultural and artistic movement celebrating the black experience. Besides unlimited sky shows, hands-on demos and an immersive theater experience, there will be a special panel on African American scientists. Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Through March 1: Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition

Cost: Free with museum admission

Celebrating 50 years as the nation’s longest-running exhibition of Black art, the exhibition features 200 works that include paintings, ceramics, photography, sculpture and mixed media. The Innovation Studio showcases inspiration for turning everyday materials into special inventions, while highlighting African American creative leaders who are transforming the city. Museum of Science & Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Opens Feb. 28: “The March: A Groundbreaking VR Exhibit” at DuSable Museum of African American History

Cost: Free with museum admission

Experience the 1963 March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech through this groundbreaking virtual reality experience from TIME and Executive Producer Viola Davis debuting at the DuSable Museum of African American History. 740 E. 56th Place. Chicago

All Month Long: Black History Month at American Writers Museum

Cost: Adults $14, Seniors $9, children are free

The museum will celebrate Black authors throughout U.S. history during the month of February with a Frederick Douglass: Agitator exhibit, story time with Maya Angelou and more. American Writers Museum, 180 N Michigan Ave., Chicago

Arts, Music & Theater 

Feb. 4 to March 11: “The Second City’s Black History Month Show”

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Second City Black History Month Show Better Chicago
Top (L-R): Robel Arega, Leila Gorstein; Bottom (L-R): Max Thomas, Colette Gregory, Jillian Ebanks, Bill Letz (Photo courtesy of The Second City.)

This show celebrates the work of The Second City’s African American alumni, including Sam Richardson, Keegan-Michael Key, Amber Ruffin, Tim Meadows, and Edgar Blackmon. UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago

Opens Feb. 21: Black Heroes Art Exhibit

Black Heroes will showcase Roger Carter’s artistic tribute to the Black men that have helped shape him. His paintings, a blend of street art and contemporary abstract expressionism, will be on display. Gallery Guichard, 436 E. 47thSt., Chicago

Feb. 23: “Black Women, Black History: A Children’s Black History Month Celebration”

Time: 12:30-2 p.m.

Cost: Adults $15, Children 12 & under are free

Black History Month GirlPower Songs Better Chicago

The popular hearth to table restaurant will host an afternoon of music for children in celebration of women of color who have changed the world. The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West, Chicago

Feb. 29: Black History Month Symphony Performance

Time: 5 p.m.

Cost: $25

Chicago Symphony Black History Month Performance Better Chicago
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Josephine Baker, the first international Black superstar, will be celebrated with a multidimensional performance by the Chicago Modern Orchestra Projects, Tsukasa Taiko percussion ensemble and members of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

At Home

Read: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis

Ayana Mathis The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Penguin Random House

A 2012 Oprah’s Book Club selection, this novel tells the story of Hattie, who marries a man who brings nothing but disappointment in the midst of the Great Migration. The lives of her nine children are interwoven with her story as they try to get by in an unforgiving world.

Watch: “Rodney King”

Through a one-man show, Roger Guenveur Smith gives voice to the man at the center of the brutal police beating that helped fuel the 1992 LA riots. Directed by Spike Lee. Stream on Netflix.

Watch: “Harriet”

The Oscar-nominated film tells the inspirational story of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Rent on Amazon Prime.

Read: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
Ballantine Books

Angelou’s autobiography about her childhood, and the racism and trauma she faced, is a unforgettable story of triumph and self-empowerment against incredible odds.

Watch: “13TH”

By Ava DuVernay, this documentary explores how the United States used a loophole in the 13th Amendment of the Constitution to exploit black labor after the abolishment of slavery. This allowed involuntary servitude tied to the punishment of a crime, and led to a disproportionate amount of jailed black citizens, often for fake crimes. Stream on Netflix

More From Better Chicago:

Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons, and covers the Weekend 101 and monthly Recommended Events features. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.

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