Your Guide to Black History Month Events in Chicago

February marks Black History Month and cultural institutions around Chicago are hosting events celebrating the city’s art and culture scene. Here are a few events you should check out.

Attend a film screening

Movie Marathon in Bronzeville

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When: Feb. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Where: South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave.

Head out for a screening of “Bronzeville in Real Time” with the South Side Home Movie Project. The evening will include a movie marathon of newly preserved films by Ramon Williams, who was known to capture Bronzeville from the 1940s to the 1960’. He was a film maker as well as an IBEW electrician. A panel discussion about Williams’ work to follow. 

(Credit: Southside Movie Project)(Credit: Southside Movie Project)

Melanin, Roots and Culture

When: Select February dates
Where: Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport 

Curated by Tyler Balentine, Music Box Theatre’s “Melanin, Roots and Culture” series will be showing five classic Black cinema films including “Malcolm X,” “Eve’s Bayou,” “The Last Dragon,” “Barbershop” and “Love Jones.” The series will conclude with a celebration of Black Chicago Filmmakers in “Life within the Lens,” featuring short screenings by filmmakers Kimberly Michelle Vaugh, Shilo Tumo Washington, Jean Williams, Cantbuydeem and Camryn Lewis. 

Celebrate at museums

Black History Month at the Du

When: Throughout February
Where: 740 E. 56th Place

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center has a long and varied list of events this month ranging from film screenings, conversations and performances. Visit the website for a full rundown of topics and times.

Pathways to STEM Careers

When: Feb. 7, 10:30 a.m. - noon
Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, 10am

Engage in a Pathways to STEM career panel featuring a discussion with marine scientist Bryce Corbett, enthnoarchaeologist Larissa Smith and an aerospace engineer turned professional musician Edward Vaughn V.

Mini Movers Dance Workshop

When: Feb. 10, sessions from 2-2:30 p.m. and 2:40-3 p.m. 
Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive

Celebrate Black artistry in a family-friendly activity featuring the Brainchild Collective, which will highlight the evolution of African and Aftican American dance for kids ages 2 to 6.

Ayodale Drum and Dance (Credit: Field Museum)Ayodale Drum and Dance (Credit: Field Museum)

Ayodele Drum and Dance

When: Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. - noon
Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive

A sister-circle of performing artists showcase drum and dance to educate and motivate. Visit the museum’s website for a full list of events.

Black History Month at the Lombard Historical Society

When: Select days throughout February 
Where: 23 W. Maple St., Lombard

Events include storytelling with Mama Edie, an evening tour of the Sheldon Peck Homestead, and a conversation with British author Jeffrey Green who will discuss his book, “Black Americans in Victorian Britain.” While the event is free, reservations are strongly suggested. Email [email protected] or book your spot here

American Writers Museum

When: February 18-19
Where: 180 N. Michigan Ave.

Visitor can enjoy free entry from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and learn more about the contributions of Black writers in American history. Featured exhibits include looks at Black writers on social justice and the work and impact of Fredrick Douglass.

Engage with local artists at Navy Pier

All month long, enjoy free programming at Navy Pier featuring interactive workshops and exhibitions.

Black Makers Market

When: Every Saturday in February from noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Fifth Third Bank Pavilion at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Attendees can check out artwork and other creations from more than 30 artists, designers and entrepreneurs. 


When: Daily through Feb. 29
Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier, lower level, 600 E. Grand Ave.

A month-long exhibit curated by Raymond A. Thomas of Diasporal Rhythms featuring work from more than 15 artists of color titled “PERSPECTIVE.” Diasporal Rhythms will also hold two events in conjunction with the exhibition including:       

Black Women in Clay

When: Feb. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

“Black Women in Clay: Legacies and New Directions” is a panel discussion featuring Chicago-based Black women artists working in ceramics, including Malika Jackson, Chris LaRue, Juarez Hawkins, Lola Ayisha Ogbara, Cristal Sabbagh and Kenya Cree. Navy Pier Festival Hall, Room 301.

Capturing the Culture in Stained Glass       

When: Feb. 17, 1-3 p.m.
Where: Festival Hall, Room 301 at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Featuring artist Theadore Feaster, a master craftsman in stained glass whose work features African and African American experiences.

Workshops hosted by Women’s Live Artist Studio

When: Saturdays in February, noon-2:30 p.m. and 3:30-6 p.m.
Where: Fifth Third Bank Pavilion at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

WLAS is permanent art gallery located in the heart of Navy Pier that showcases different women artists of color based in Chicago. They’ll have guest artists on hand to chat with throughout the month including: 

Feb. 3 – Candace Hunter, collage making

Feb. 10 – Lois Stone, abstract painting

Feb. 17 – Ladetria Warren, jewelry making

Feb. 24 – Hyero – crochet

Free Mixology Classes 

When: Every Wednesday in February, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Windy City Ribs at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Black-owned business Windy City Ribs will be holding “Whiskey Wednesdays” mixology classes in collaboration with Alexander James whiskey

Go to a concert

Uniting Voices Concert Series

When: Feb. 22-23, 11 a.m.
Where: Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. 

The two-day musical celebration titled “Soul to Soul: The Evolution of African Music in America” will feature performances from nearly 3,000 youth from the organization’s CPS programs.

Imani Winds

When: Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.
Where: 1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston IL

The Music Institute of Chicago presents Grammy-nominated quintet Imani Winds performing “Black and Brown II: A celebration of composers of color” at the Nichols Concert Hall. 

Check out local vendors

Market at Wabash Y

When: Feb. 24, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Wabash Y, 3763 S. Wabash Ave.

Visit the birthplace of Black History Month at the Wabash Y for their open house and Black-owned market featuring local vendors. This historic landmark is where Carter G. Woodson announced the first Negro History Week in 1926, as well as founded the Association of the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. With free admission, the day also includes a history exhibition. 

Take in art exhibits

“Decadence of Another Kind”

Where: Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St.
When: Through March 1

Twelve artists present work that includes textiles, paintings, sculpture and installations that reflect historical and cultural significance.  

“A Love Supreme”

Where: Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst
When: Through April 24

The exhibit featuring Norman Teague is inspired by the music of John Coltrane with design influences from Teague’s Chicago based lifelong home. Work explores how jazz expands the mind and inspires communities of color. 

Left: Artwork from “Tar Beach” by Faith Ringgold. (Marc Vitali / WTTW News). Right: Faith Ringgold (Provided)Left: Artwork from “Tar Beach” by Faith Ringgold. (Marc Vitali / WTTW News). Right: Faith Ringgold (Provided)

“American People”

When: Through Feb. 24
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.

An exhibition of the work of Faith Ringgold, known for her experimental story quilts along with her efforts around organizing and education.

Black History Month at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue

When: Select dates in February
Where: 55 E. Grand Avenue 

Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue will be showcasing different Black artists and businesses with pop-ups throughout the store all month long. Visit their Instagram for a full list of events and list of featured artists and businesses. 

“Bending Light”

When: February 10-April 27 
Where: South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave.

Curated by Paul Branton, group exhibition, Bending Light, features work by EDO (Eddie Santana), Courtney Collins, Robert Clark Lewis, Pearlie Taylor, Brant Lamont and Paul Branton. Their work explores what is means to be colored in America. RSVP for their opening reception on Feb. 10, here


When: Feb. 2-March 2
Where:  Gallery Anthony, 1300 W. Lake St.

An exhibition of the photos of Gabriel Moses, whose work features his relatives, communities and fashions in dramatic and textured settings. His work pays homage to the matriarchs in his life and the latest series focuses on femininity in all its forms.

Have a laugh

“Black By Popular Demand: A Black Excellence Revue”

When: Feb. 9-May 25
Where: Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave.

Described as a celebration of Black joy, the show is taking center stage at the Up Comedy Club of Second City. Early ticket purchase is suggested, as last year’s dates sold out. Ticket pries range from $29-$49.

Note: This list may update throughout the month. 

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.

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