Every February, we honor Black History Month — a tradition with origins in Chicago that celebrates the history, ingenuity and ongoing fight for justice and equity for Black people in America and across the globe. Do your party this month and all year long by supporting Black-led organizations, art programs, restaurants and more. Here are 12 ways to get started around Chicago during Black History Month.
Arts & Entertainment
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The minds behind this show have loosely taken the concept of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and planted it on Chicago’s South Side. This two-and-a-half hour play — dubbed “irresitably upbeat” — “blends diverse musical styles with boundless imagination” to create a show that fosters laughter as much as thoughtfulness. Tickets can be purchased on the Lyric Opera of Chicago website — or visit the Dusable Museum website for more information on a museum-sponsored outing, complete with discounted tickets.
20 N. Wacker Dr.
American Writers Museum
Through “original artwork, augmented reality and other interactive elements” the Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice exhibit at the American Writers Museum enlightens guests on the rich history and modern presence of Black authors in the socio-political space and their impact on literature. Featured artists include Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and many more. To see this exhibit, visit the American Writers Museum website for more information, as well as additional Black History Month events.
180 N. Michigan Ave.
Africa Hall 30th Anniversary
Since 1993, the Field Museum has been home to Africa Hall — an exhibit that celebrates the history and culture of Africa and its people. This year, help the Field Museum celebrate the exhibits’ 30th anniversary and the impact it still has with a feature performance from Muntu Dance Theatre, followed by an in-depth look at the exhibit. This event is free to the public, but registration is required. Visit the Field Museum website for more information or to find additional dates to view the exhibit.
1400 S. Dusable, Lake Shore Drive
Dance Likes There’s Black People Watching: A Black Excellence Revue
Presented by The Second City, Dance Likes There’s Black People Watching: A Black Excellence Revue puts a spotlight on Black creators as they present sketches, songs and improvisations to tickle your funny bone and melt away winter blues. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at the Up Comedy Club. Want to join in the fun? Visit The Second City for more information.
230 W. North Ave.
The powerful and true story of Toni Stone — the first woman to play professional baseball — is taking to the stage at Goodman Theatre through February 26. Stone, a Black woman, knew the game through and through and could dominate the field, too, but audiences will watch as she overcomes prejudice and more to cement her status as a legend on the field. Tickets and more information are available at Goodman Theatre.
170 N. Dearborn St.
Black History Month Tours
Few places can rival the iconic innovation and creation that has come from Chicago. For Black History Month, award-winning, nationally-recognized, internet-loved Chicago Historian Dilla Dilla is offering tours of the Bronzeville neighborhood — along with other neighborhoods as well — and “his unique perspective aims to uplift the city and instill value in all of Chicago’s history.” Get tickets for this in-depth look at the city by visiting the Chicago Mahogany Tours website.
Chicago Black Restaurant Week
Returning for a triumphant eighth year, Chicago Black Restaurant Week is highlighting some of the city’s best food finds from February 12-26. You’ll find craveable bar food, vegan cuisine, baked goods, artisan sandwiches, upscale dining options and so much more. This month and always, support and celebrate local Black-owned restaurants — visit the Chicago Black Restaurant Week website for a full line-up of participating restaurants.
Black Makers Market
Dozens of artisans, designers and entrepreneurs are coming together at Navy Pier as a part of Black Makers Market, a craftsmen market where shoppers can view a variety of work from local Black creators on Saturdays and Sundays. While there, check out presentations from other Black artists that Navy Pier is featuring weekly. Each week, two artists will perform their art in front of the public, inviting others into conversation about Black artwork as they pass by. The lineup of weekly artists and more information about the market can be found on the Navy Pier website.
800 E. Grand Ave.
Good Kids Mad City
With a youth-centered mission, Good Kids Mad City aims to “build unity, nurture healing and create a thriving community” for the next generations in Chicago, specifically within the Englewood neighborhood. Their work seeks to make real, everyday change in the lives of those they serve and also shift the larger narrative about urban violence by uplifting the voices of the very people it impacts. To read more about their mission, initiatives and community, or to support them, visit Good Kids Mad City.
This queer, Black woman-led organization is youth-focused and “organizes young Black people in Chicago by providing them with political education, leadership development and revolutionary services.” Assata’s Daughters stands as an institution brimming with resources and educational materials — to assist them as they continue their work toward Black liberation, visit the Assata’s Daughters website, where specific details on donations can be found.
Urban Growers Collective
Urban Growers Collective is on a quest to “build a more just and equitable local food system [and] aim to address the inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color.” This Chicago-based, Black- and women-led nonprofit is rooted in providing nutrition, economic development, healing and “creativity through urban agriculture.” And it’s not just a food resource but a teaching center as well, with opportunities for all levels of agriculturists. Head over to Urban Growers Collective to read more about the wonders they are doing and how to support them.
My Block, My Hood, My City
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In Chicago, the neighbors-taking-care-of-neighbors mindset is always alive — and nowhere is that taken more seriously than at My Block, My Hood, My City. This nonprofit organization sees the importance of inspiring youth; empowering communities; and building a better city “one block at a time.” Their programs that assist the public are at the core of what they do, and are only made possible through direct volunteer work. More information on their mission and ways to support them can be found on My Block, My Hood, My City.
More from Better:
- 10 of Chicago’s Top Black Women of Impact — 2023
- 28 of The Best Things To Do in Chicago and the Suburbs This February
- New Moms Has Helped Build Strong Chicagoland Families for 40 Years — Invest in Them to Invest in Young Moms and Children, Too
Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.