Black History Month: Simple ways to get involved

Anna Joranger also contributed to this post.

Just yesterday a few Urban Gateways staffers visited an assembly by Soli Performing Arts at Burbank Elementary (Soli is one of our touring groups) – “Celebration Dances of West Africa.” Students were enthralled by the energetic dancing and bright costumes, and after the show one of the dancers enumerated the ways in which this performance contributes to students’ understanding of black history and enhances their experience of Black History Month. So while Urban Gateways touring shows and residencies all over the city discuss this important occasion with Chicago students, we thought we’d give you a few pointers about cultural events that YOU can participate in to learn more about African American History (plus we just love looking around at arts happenings).

Whether or not they are announced as Black History Month events, here is our list of opportunities we think you will enjoy taking place throughout the city.

Celebrate Black History Month at Chicago Children’s Museum, 2/6: 5:30-7:30pm at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier: Performances by local dance and music groups and art making. Perfect for your kids. Click here for more details>>

“Black Americans in the Performing Arts” and “Artist Explosion”, 2/11: Back-to-back events brought to you by Triton College in River Grove present the artistic works of community artists Bernie Staggers and Kenneth L. Ray, as well as a live performance by actor Phillip Edward Van Lear. Triton College aims to motivate students to reach for success by addressing topics that are popular in the black community. Not to mention all events put on by the Triton’s Black Heritage Council are free to the public!

For a full list of this month’s events, click here!

Visit the DuSable Museum of African American History: 740 East 56th Place Chicago, Illinois 60637

Never been to the DuSable? It’s wonderful, and now is the perfect time to explore exhibitions dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history, culture, and art of African Americans. Special events happening this month are (more listed on the website):

Music: -“Suite DuSable: A Vision of Faith” (2/28)

Film:12 Years a Slave Film and Screening Discussion (2/20)

Lectures & Workshops: -When Freedom Replaced Fear: Illinois and the Underground Railroad (2/6) -Making Brown Work: America’s History and Future Educating People Of Color (2/22)

MORE events:

Chicago’s Golden Soul at Black Ensemble Theater (4450 N Clark): This organization’s mission is to eradicate racism through theater. If you’ve been sitting at home for way too long this winter, then this particular event might be a great way to help fight the winter blues while also celebrating the sounds of Chicago’s music history. The Black Ensemble Theater put together this production as a tribute to the music and artists that pushed Chicago forward in the “musical force”.

For tickets and show times:

UIC Black History Month 2014: Another full month of FREE events available at the University of Chicago at Illinois. On February 6 (tomorrow!), check out “Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Hip Hop: A Continuum of African American Culture in the Diaspora.” On February 12, they offer “History of Racism in Popular Music.” Plus much, much more. Full events at:

PLUS THEATER, CLASSICAL MUSIC, & JAZZ: Events recommended by the Chicago Tribune to celebrate Black History Month – including Court Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, & Constellation. Check out their picks:,0,6616170.story

What other events are happening in honor of Black History Month? Leave a comment and let everyone know.

World renowned composer, Renée Baker leading the “Suite DuSable: A Vision of Faith,” a syphonic poem at the DuSable Musuem.

Based on fate, justice, and the Blues, “Seven Guitars” is playing at the Court Theatre.

Themed as “Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Civil Rights Act,” Triton College is holding community events all month long!

The Chicago Opera Theater’s production “Queenie Pie” is inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female African-American self-made millionaire.