Publisher's Month In Review: The Chicago Defender Is as Strong as Ever

Defender Interim Publisher, Frances Jackson.
Defender Interim Publisher, Frances Jackson.

Publisher’s Month In Review: The Chicago Defender Is as Strong as Ever

Many African-Americans have asked the question, “Why do we celebrate Black History during the shortest month of the year?”  Good question!  There was much to do in Chicago this year, and the Chicago Defender tried to do it all!!! Here’s a recap of the numerous amazing celebrations that the Chicago Defender staff enjoyed during Black History Month 2017. 

• It all started Feb. 1 with the 115th birthday of legendary American author, activist and thinker Langston Hughes at City Winery. The evening was full of powerhouse performances that  included readings of Hughes’ poetry and music that he wrote, inspired and/or enjoyed. Special guests included Golden Globe Award-winning actress Regina Taylor; critically acclaimed spoken-word artist J. Ivy; the “Empress of Soul” Terisa Griffin; acclaimed actor Jussie Smollett; Chicago chanteuse and City Winery Chicago favorite Lynne Jordan; local poet, activist, educator and musician Malcolm London, and theater mavericks Cheryl Lynn Bruce and Runako Jahi. A live band backed each performance and a portion of the net proceeds was donated to Donda’s House, a not-for-profit founded by Che “Rhymefest” Smith and Donnie Smith.

• Thursday, Feb. 2, the mayor’s office hosted its annual “Mayor’s Luncheon” benefitting UNCF.  There was a panel discussion following lunch titled “Expanding Pathways to Better Futures,” which included  Adrienne M. Holloway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, DePaul University Graduate School of Public Service;  J. Schwan, CEO and Founder, Solstice; Dominique Jordan Turner, President and CEO, Chicago Scholars; Partha Nandi, M.D.; and Adrienne M. Holloway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, DePaul University Graduate School of Public Service. 

img_00071• On Feb. 8, the Chicago Defender showcased its annual Black History exhibit, “Journey to Empowerment” at the DuSable Museum of African American History.  Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the annual Men of Excellence, the Black History exhibit was titled “Men of Excellence.” Sponsored by the McCormick Foundation, the exhibit was so successful, it has been extended until March 31. 

• On Feb. 15, the Chicago Defender staff was invited to ABC7 Chicago’s annual Black History Month luncheon and celebration.  Each year, ABC7 covers great stories and wanted to showcase its new segment
Chicago Proud, as well as its Emmy Award-winning program, Heart & Soul.  The students of City Colleges of Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute created a sumptuous meal, and the event was hosted by ABC7 staff and on-air personalities Cheryl Burton and Jim Rose.  Guests could network as well as announce special programs, events and/or features each had scheduled for Black History Month.

• The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition features more than 100 dynamic works – including paintings, sculpture and mixed-media – from African-American artists across the country, chosen by a panel of five jurors.  It is the longest-running exhibition of African-American art displayed annually at the Museum of Science & Industry since 1970.  From the exhibition, the panel selected first, second and third place overall show winners, as well as a winner in each medium category and overall in the youth category. The winners were recognized at a Juried Art Reception, held on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 6-8:30 p.m.

• On Feb. 20, the Chicago Defender hosted the Black History HBCU Calendar and Crawford Broadcasting at the Chicago Defender’s location for the “Adopt A School” program.  During the four hours, Chicagoland residents were invited to participate in the Adopt a School/Know Your History event by purchasing Black History calendars for the school of their choice.  Chicago residents who have sponsored a classroom (40 calendars) or school (900 calendars) presented their donation on air. Chicago celebrities such as Empire’s Ta’Rhonda Jones and 102 FM’s on-air personality Darryll King joined Power 92’s Shagg Nice, business executives, non-profits, fraternities/sororities and elected officials to donate their calendars.

907a33521• On Feb. 23, the Chicago Defender celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Men of Excellence.  Celebrated as the 10th Anniversary Class Reunion, Men of Excellence Alumni met at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for a fun-filled event celebrating African-American men who have excelled in their professional life and community service.  A special thanks goes out to our sponsors:  Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, Fifth Third Bank, Peoples Gas, ComEd, Uber, Remy Cointreau USA, Support Our Troops America and Warbington World of Fashion & Accessories.

• From Feb. 20-24, the Chicago Defender archives were part of a Black History Exhibit at the James R. Thompson Building.  An African-American History program at the James R. Thompson Building Atrium, 100 W. Randolph, Feb. 24 at noon featured the honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman as keynote speaker, Matt McGill, WVON host as the M.C., and honored several deserving individuals including:  Diane Latiker, Kids Off The Block, Inc. – Leadership Award; Dorothy Jean Tillman, – Young Achievers Award; Jory Luster Sr., Luster Products – Legacy Award; Eugene Dumas, the Center For Multi-Cultural Communities – Educators Award; and accepting for Carl Tutt, 100 Black Men – Service Award, were numerous members of 100 Black Men. A luncheon reception was held afterward.

Governor Bruce Rauner and Defender Interim Publisher, Frances Jackson check out the Chicago Defender display at the Illinois State Building.
Governor Bruce Rauner and Defender Interim Publisher, Frances Jackson check out the Chicago Defender display at the Illinois State Building.

• Victory Gardens Theater and The Black Women’s Expo hosted a Black Beauty Festival Feb. 25 from noon – 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 26 from noon – 3 p.m. at Victory Gardens Theater. The festival featured products from Black-owned and -operated Chicago beauty companies, and was presented in conjunction with the world premiere of A Wonder In My Soul, written by ensemble playwright Marcus Gardley and directed by Artistic Director Chay Yew, with original music by Jaret Landon.

The play was quite entertaining.  Set in a black beauty shop, the soundtrack (with a mixture of Motown favorites and original scores) had the entire audience singing, clapping and rocking to a familiar beat.  To boot, all of the characters were named after streets on the South Side of Chicago. It was a perfect way to announce the 23rd Annual Black Women’s Expo, which will be held at McCormick Place Convention Center; North Building, Hall C1. Show dates are Friday, April 7 – Sunday, April 9.

The greatest thing about celebrating Black History Month is being able to fellowship with our partners large and small.  Even a small vendor such as Lanette Warbington of Warbington World of Fashion & Accessories contributes to our events by donating gifts to our honorees.  We want to send a special “Thank You” to Lanette for her continued support!


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