Your Guide to Chicago’s Black History Month Events, Exhibits and Celebrations

February is the month we celebrate African American culture.

Whether it’s art exhibitions, lectures and panel discussions, musical performances or community celebrations, there are plenty of places to visit where we can be inspired to carry on our culture’s knowledge and legacy.

Originally called Negro History Week, Black History Month was established in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History.” 

Woodson dedicated his life to educating African Americans about the achievements and contributions of their ancestors.

The Chicago Defender presents a guide to Chicago’s 2024 Black History Month events and activities that highlight Black achievement, creativity, ingenuity and history.


The Ideal Candidate Black History Month Kick-Off Event – Honoring Community Impact

Feb. 1

The event will feature a keynote speaker, live music and a silent auction.


Kahil El’ Zabar: Ethnic Heritage Ensemble 50th Anniversary Concert

Feb. 1

An original member of the ground-breaking Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, El’ Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has performed African percussive traditions blended with avant-garde jazz for half a century. They will play at the Promontory Chicago.


Shermann ‘Dilla’ Thomas: Chicago Urban Historian & American TikToker

Feb. 2

Proud South Sider Sherman “Dilla” Thomas — founder of Mahogany Tours, son of a Chicago police officer, and TikTok dad — explains how the power of storytelling can change the narrative about Chicago.


Afrocentric Paint Night

Feb. 2

This is your chance to show off your paint skills and celebrate Black History Month. Plus, there will be a ton of beautiful African-American canvases to paint.


Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited

Feb. 2

The Grammy-award-winning musician joins the Chicago Jazz Orchestra to present a musical portrait of Civil Rights icons like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama at the Chicago Symphony Center.


We Insist: Max Roach 100th Birthday

Feb. 2

The extraordinary life and legacy of jazz drummer Max Roach is celebrated with a film screening and performance at the DuSable Museum.


Bronzeville in Reel Time with South Side Home Movie Project

Feb. 3

In partnership with the South Side Home Movie Project, with support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, the SSCAC hosts a special screening that showcases the select cinema reels of Ramon Williams, the Black IBEW electrician and film hobbyist who documented Bronzeville between the 1940s and 1960s.


Sojourner Truth Film Festival

Feb. 3

Get ready for an all-day screening of films by and about Black women. In 1976, Faith Ringgold and a group of Black feminist artists organized this first-ever Black women’s film festival. In 2024, the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts is still going strong.


The Jesse Jackson Oral History Project Launch

Feb. 8

Preview recordings of Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders who were part of the historic Chicago Breadbasket Movement at the Chicago History Museum.


Experimental Blues: Nat Myers

Feb. 9

Nat Myers explores the intersection of blues with soul and gospel and gives a nod to his Black and Korean heritage with complex blues rhythms at the Logan Center for the Arts.


Black By Popular Demand: A Black Excellence Revue

Feb. 9

Prepare to laugh out loud at this revue of songs, sketches and improv that is all about Black joy at Second City.


Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week
Feb. 11 – Feb. 25

A restaurant event for us and by us that is all about showcasing us, as in our extraordinary restaurants. Visit a business of your choice on the CBRW participants list (see themed days for more info) and go support. If you choose, take your pics, and tag CBRW for a repost.


“A Journey of Generations” – A Blues Concert

Feb. 11

This event promises to be historic as it showcases legendary Westside Blues artists alongside some of the next generation of Blues players.


Champion at Lyric Opera

Now until Feb. 11

Witness the premiere of Grammy-Award-winning jazz musician Terrence Blanchard’s “Champion,” an “opera in jazz” that chronicles the life of welterweight Emile Griffith, now playing at the Lyric Opera.


Peter Jericho & MGeni – Love Like This

Feb. 14

Dance across a musical landscape that features African rhythms accented with funk, jazz and soul influences during Cameroonian musician Peter Jericho’s free Black History Month concert at Old Town School of Folk Music.


Sip and Create: Black History Month Edition

Feb. 17

You can celebrate Black culture by crafting earrings that show off your Black pride all while sipping your favorite beverage. Remember to bring the wine as this is also a BYOW event as well.


The Shops – Black History Month Edition Pop-up

Feb. 18

This special BHM event will feature a variety of vendors, including local artists and entrepreneurs. 


The Chicago History Museum Family Event | Black History Month

Feb. 24

This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the history and contributions of Black Chicago through activities centered on “African Americans and the Arts.”


Black History Month Chicago Reparations Celebration

Feb. 24

Celebrate Black history and learn about community reparations initiatives at this Kehrein Center for the Arts celebration.


Black Creativity Career Showcase
Feb. 24
Celebrate Black Creativity by engaging with local African-American artists, scientists, and engineers to explore innovative work in our city.


Stepper’s Night at ETA Creative Arts Foundation

Feb. 27

Glide across the floor in the iconic dance created on Chicago’s south side during this monthly event that includes stepping lessons and performances.


Immersive Comedy Show Experience Featuring Kellye Howard

Feb. 29

Join us for a hilarious conclusion to Black History Month at Studio Prolific’s Immersive Comedy Show Experience.


Temporary Exhibitions

Wabash Y Guided History Tour

The Month of February

Take a guided tour of the historic Wabash Y, which stood at the heart of cultural and economic progress for Blacks in Bronzeville.      


Black Creativity

This long-running showcase of African American art has occurred every year at the MSI since 1970. The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition features paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculpture, mixed-media, ceramics and photography by Black artists.


The Art of Storytellers: Selections from the Johnson Publishing Company Collection

Explore the array of art, sculptures, lithographs and drawings adorning the walls of the historic Johnson Publishing Company building – Chicago’s inaugural high-rise crafted by a Black architect.


Faith Ringgold: American People

Explore six decades of artwork, encompassing story quilts, paintings, soft sculptures and performance pieces that encapsulate the multifaceted career of Faith Ringgold—an artist, activist, educator, and author.


Remembering Dr. King

This exhibition chronicles Dr. King’s enduring legacy, with a particular focus on his impactful presence in Chicago during the 1960s.


Pauli Murray: Survival with Dignity

Explore the captivating journey of Pauli Murray, a Black LGBTQ+ lawyer, poet, activist and priest whose profound influence extended to the Civil Rights Movement and Supreme Court decisions. The American Writers Museum showcases the remarkable life and impact of this multifaceted individual.


Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice

This exhibit delves into the theme of racial injustice, examining the contributions of Black writers from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement.


Chicago Mahogany Tours

Embark on a journey through the rich history and cultural legacies of Chicago’s Bronzeville, Englewood, and North Lawndale communities throughout the entire month with acclaimed urban historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas.


Celebrate Black History Month every day, continue to impact the world, come together to eat, or even while doing the cha cha slide. We reserve the whole month to remember, uplift, honor, and recognize the achievements and contributions of African Americans.










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