Chicago is a city with a rich African American history and culture. Many blacks settled in Chicago as part of the Great Migration, a massive relocation of some six million African Americans from the rural South to the industrialized urban centers of the North between 1915 and 1975. People came for jobs and better lives for themselves and for their children.February marks Black History Month across the U.S. Take advantage of a February visit to the Windy City to discover the story of the Chicago’s African Americans and to take part in Chicago’s celebration of African Americans.
Chicago’s African American Sites and Experiences
The DuSable Museum: Located in Washington Park, the museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, presents exhibits on the African American experience in the U.S. and in Chicago as well as showcases art by African Americans. The facility is named for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian-born trader who settled in 1780 in what became Chicago. DuSable is credited with being the area’s first non-native resident. The museum presents exhibits on slavery; Egyptian royalty; blacks in the military; former Chicago mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor; and African American artists.
Those who love textiles and history shouldn’t miss “Unpacking Collections: The Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, an African American Quilt Scholar.” Not only beautiful, the scores of quilts add to the story of quilt work as art and reveal something of the women who crafted them.
Self-Guided Black History Tour
Monument to the Great Migration: The statue by Alison Saar depicts a man facing north, carrying a suitcase. His right hand is raised in a greeting to his new home. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 26th Place.
Victory Monument: Erected in 1927 in the Bronzeville neighborhood, the monument honors the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, an African American unit that served in France during World War I. 3500 S. King Drive.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge: For more than 100 years, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge has hosted jazz musicians and the place still does. During Prohibition Al Capone and his friends hung out at the Green Mill. 4802 N. Broadway Avenue.
Andy’s Jazz Club: Jazz and swing fans should stop by Andy’s. One of Chicago’s noted jazz clubs, Andy’s has been showcasing the city’s great music for 50 years. 11 E. Hubbard Street.
Black Ensemble Theater: For 40 years the Black Ensemble Theater has staged plays, musicals, dances and other productions. In 2011, the theater moved into its new facility on the North Side.