32 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Chicago

Photograph from "Figures of Speech" at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago

February is Black History month, a time of the year when people are the country celebrate the Black culture that events that enlighten and inspire. In Chicago, Black culture is historical, rich, and is continuously being reshaped and retold. Learn more about the African-American experience through the arts, music, food, fashion, and community-led events taking place throughout the city of Chicago. Check out 32 events that celebrate the achievements of the African-American community all month long.

Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago

Tuesdays – Sundays | February 29th – May 31st | Time Varies

Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago | 220 E Chicago Ave. | $8 – $15

Experience fashion and culture during Black History Month at the Museum of Contemporary Art(MCA). Nigerian-born British designer Duro Olowu takes over the MCA this month with his internationally recognized multinational and multicultural viewpoint on fashion, art, and design. The exhibition draws from the public and private art collections of Chicago, including the MCA’s collection that reveals his creative process. The exhibition has a strong emphasis on art by women, artists of African descent, and self-taught or visionary artists. To learn more about the exhibition, visit MCAChicago.org.

Macy’s Celebrates Black History Month!

Thursday | February 20th | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Macy’s on State Street | 111 North State St. | Free

Image | Macy’s

Celebrate Black History Month with Macy’s on State Street in Chicago. Enjoy a special screening of Oscar-nominated animated short film Hair Love, followed by a conversation hosted by Stadium Sports Network’s Amina Smith with Hair Love’s writer and director Matthew A. Cherry, dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson and Ebony Jamison of Brownskinbeautiful. After the conversation, stick around for a reception where you can enjoy live entertainment by The Happiness Club, nail art by A Polished Work and more. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Seating is first-come, first-serve to those who have RSVPd. To RSVP visit the event page here.

2nd Wednesday Lecture:Exploring Unsung Pioneers of Science with Urban Roots

Wednesday | February 12th | 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Garfield Park Conservatory | 300 N. Central Park Ave.. | Free

Explore the unsung work of Black ecologists, nutritionists, and zoologists with the Garfield Park Conservatory. Recognized as on the coolest places to hang out in Chicago, the Garfield Park Conservatory and the Urban Roots docents will celebrate Black History Month by highlighting the works of several black pioneers of science whose contributions to ecological and plant science have been lost in time. This experience is free and open to the public.

Street Comedy Jam Presents: Dear Black People| BHM Comedy Kickoff

Tuesday – Wednesday | February 4th – 5th | 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

REFUGE Live!| 416 South Clark St. | $10 – $20

Laugh out loud with an incredible line-up of comedians in Chicago. Dear Black People is a late-night experience featuring five Black Chicago comics. Enjoy the laughs and stay for the after-party. For tickets to the event, visit the website here.

Ujamaa Market

Saturday | February 15th | 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Chicago State University | 9501 S King Dr. | Free

Shop local as you recycle the Black dollar during the Ujamaa Market at Chicago State University. The vendor fair will feature clothes, jewelry, skincare products, necessities, food & more. For event registration and participating vendors, visit the website here.

Arts Bank Cinema

Sundays | February 9th – 23rd | Time Varies

Stony Island Arts Bank | 6760 South Stony Island Ave. | Free

Celebrate Black History Month with a three-part series of films at the Stoney Island Arts Bank. The Unveiling Black Figures highlight three movies that celebrate dynamic individuals that have contributed to Black History. Discussions hosted by Duane Powell to follow each screening. This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required to attend each screening. To RSVP, visit the event page here. 


Thursday – Friday | February 6th | 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Emporium Wicker Park | 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave. | Free

This Black History Month, gather your crew and make your way to Wicker Park. Celebrate music and style with some of the most influential DJs and artists in the country. Enjoy free slices of pizza from HomeTeam Pizzeria as you vibe to great music. To purchase a ticket, visit the website here.

Unwine Sunday Funday: R&B Soul Flow

Sunday – Saturday | February 1st – 28th | 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

1340 Beer Wine Spirits | 1340 West Madison St. | Free

Relax your mind, body, and soul during Black History Month. Join Literalunwine for a pop-up yoga series. Celebrate the month of love and Black history with a soul-soothing practice set to the backdrop of R&B love songs. Tickets include a special 75-minute Vinyasa Yoga class led by Kenyatta, all experience levels are welcomed. Two sessions will be offered during this event. To purchase tickets, visit the event page.

Legends the Musical A Civil Rights Movement at the Black Ensemble Theater

Thursday – Sunday | February 29th – April 12th | 8:00 p.m.

Black Ensemble Theater | 4450 N Clark St. | $45

Experience a bold musical journey this Black History Month at the Black Ensemble Theater. “Legends The Musical” examines the effects of racism on America, a tribute to those who have fought against it and a demand for it to end. Legend is a serious call to action that will leave you with hope and an answer to the ongoing question of what can I do? For tickets, visit the Black Ensemble Theater.

Harris Policy Forum: Cultivating Civic Leaders – A Conversation with Valerie B. Jarrett and Helene D. Gayle

Tuesday | Feburary 11th | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Chicago Cultural Center | 78 E. Washington St.| Free

This Black History Month, join Harris Public Policy Dean Katherine Baicker for a very special evening of discussion with Valerie B. Jarrett, a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, and Helene D. Gayle, president, and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, about what it means to embrace civic leadership and how the next generation of leaders can drive social change and build a more inclusive and equitable future for our communities, cities, and country. For more details, visit the event page here. 

The Color Tax – Origins of the Modern Day Racial Wealth Gap

Saturday| February 8th | 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

IIT Tower Auditorium | 10 West 35th St. | Free

Explore economic disparities over a lively conversation this Black History Month in Chicago. Join the Chicago South Side Film Festival, the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Office of Community Affairs, and Chicago Beyond for a special screening of “The Color Tax.” After the free film, stick around for a panel discussion with journalists and educators as they answer, “How and why did so many of Chicago’s Black communities fall into disrepair during the 1950s and 1960s while surrounding White areas created middle-class wealth that continues to compound today?” For more details and to register for this event, visit the website here. 

Black History Month Celebration

Wednesday | February 26th | 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Chicago Public Library South Shore Branch | 9055 South Houston Ave. | Free

Join local grocery franchise Jewel Osco for our 21st Annual Black History Celebration. This event series features networking with owners of minority businesses. Live music, prizes, giveaways, free samples, and more. Check out more of the Black History Month celebrations taking place at Jewel Osco all February long. For more details, visit CelebrateBlackHistoryatJewel.com

Black History Month Family Celebration: Chicago Edition

Saturday | February 22nd | 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Semicolon Bookstore | 515 N Halsted St. | Free

This Black History Month, stop by the Black-owned book store Semicolon for a full day of storytelling. Burst Into Books is Black History Month Family Celebration, filled with storytelling, interactive stations, guest presenters and music. Come out to learn about the black history of Chicago past and present. It will obtain a great time for the whole family. Reserve your spot today by visiting the event page here. 

SIB’S Breakfast Club’s 10th Annual Black History Day Party

Sunday | February 16th | 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

CSO Multiplex | 1301 E 47th St | Free

This Black History Month, party with Chicago’s HBCU’s and Greeks. SIB’S Breakfast Club’s 10th Annual Black History Month Day party honors HBCUs & Greeks while celebrating education and entrepreneurship. The event will feature Black liquor tastings, BYOB, Greek, HBCU, a DJ cypher and more. For tickets and more information, visit the Facebook page.

Black History Month Concert Series

Monday – Wednesday | February 10th – 12th | 11:00 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Choir | 78th E Washington St, FL 5 | Free

Image | Children’s Choir Chicago

Lift every voice and sing with youth this Black History Month in Chicago. Join all 4,200 In-School singers and the world-renowned Voice of Chicago as they come together for a free dynamic educational program and performance honoring black culture. The theme of the concert series aligns with the 2020 Black History Month national theme, “African Americans and the Vote.” To learn more, visit the CCChoir.org/events.

Building a Legacy: A Look at the History of Black Generational Wealth

Tuesday | February 18th | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Chicago Beyond | 811 W Fulton Market. | $15

Image | Chicago Ideas Week

This Black History Month, engage in conversation of Black generational wealth. This conversation, hosted by Chicago Ideas Week and Chicago Beyond will make an unflinching examination of the hindrances that have historically prevented the accumulation of black wealth from one generation to the next while exploring the various entrepreneurial solutions that have broken the cycle of poverty. By first looking at the impact of corporate franchise model on the black community in Chicago, zooming out to take stock of our current situation, and identify the necessary steps for closing the racial wealth gap nationwide. For tickets, visit Chicago Ideas.com.

Celebrate African-American History Month with Chicago Public Libraries

Sunday – Saturday| February 1st – 29th | Time Varies

Chicago Public Libraries | Location Varies | Free

Join the Chicago Public Library for their celebration of Black History Month throughout various branches across the city. Events include interactive events for teens, film screenings, book clubs for adults, interactive events for teens, story times and hands-on activities for kids and music and crafts for the whole family to join. For a full list of activities at your local branch, check out the full list here.

Black Women, Black History: A Children’s Black History Month Celebration

Sunday | February 23rd | 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Promontory | 1501 N Kingsbury St. | $0 – $15

Celebrate Black History Month with Girl Power Songs this February. Black Women, Black History: A Children’s Black History Month Celebration, led by Girl Power Songs, focuses on empowering and educating women of all ages through song. To learn more and to purchase tickets to this all-ages event t visit the website. 

AAN 3rd Annual Black History Month Celebration

Saturday | February 29th | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra | 220 S Michigan Ave. | Free

Image | Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s African American Network invites you to its 4th annual Black History Month Celebration. The multi-dimensional homage to the first black superstar, “Le Tumulte Noir” celebrates her pioneering Paris revue and her pivotal role in the 1927 silent film “Siren of the Tropics.” This film score by Chicago composer (and frequent AAN guest) Renée Baker will be performed live by the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, the percussion ensemble Tsukasa Taiko and members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

3rd Annual Black History Trivia Night

Thursday | February 27th | 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Bar 22 | 2244 S Michigan Ave. | Free

Assemble your squad for a Black History trivia night in Chicago. This Black History Month the Chicago alumni chapters of Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Howard, and FAMU for an evening dedicated to celebrating black history and culture. Show off your knowledge of all things black, history, and culture. To RSVP, visit the event page. 

Black History! Black Future!

Saturday| February 29th | 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The Green Living Room | 6431 S Cottage Grove | $6

Grow you business and increase your certainty as a Black business owner this Black History Month. This 2-hour Black business building workshop will allow you to pitch your business and give you the tools needed to succeed in your future endeavors. Learn more about this event and how you can grow your Black business this February.

Black History Month Sampling with Chef Lamar

Saturday | February 22nd | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Mariano’s Bronzeville |  3857 S Martin Luther King Dr. | Free

Take a seat at the table with Chicago’s Chef Lamar Moore during Black History Month. Join the well-known chef this month at Mariano’s Bronzeville for a meet & greet and food sampling. Previously, Chef Lamar has worked at Smoke Daddy and Currency Exchange Café., Tanta Peruvian Cuisine, Restaurant, Hotel Sax. He was also featured on a national Bravo TV show program “Welcome To Waverly, and Food Network’s “Chopped, and Beat Bobby Flay, the upcoming T.V show “Vegas Chef Prize Fight.” Stop by this free event for a taste of his famous Shrimp Boil

Black History Month Film Festival

Every Friday – Sunday | February 1st – March 1st | Time Varies

Showplace Icon Theaters | 1011 S Delano Ct. E | Price Varies

SocialWorks’ 3rd Annual Black History Month Film Festival kicks off February 1st. This year catch movies like, “Porgy and Bess”, “Set it off”, and the “The Photograph.” in addition to the films, SocialWorks will will have Black History Month merchandise, complimentary popcorn, and soft drinks, and for those of age complimentary cocktails provided by Crown Royal available. To purchase tickets to one or more of the films this month, visit the website.

Black History Month with the Chicago Park District

Sunday – Saturday | February 1st – 29th | Time Varies

Chicago Park District | Location Varies | Free

Celebrate Black History Month with the Chicago Park District all month long. The park district will host a variety of arts and cultural events across the parks on the West and South Sides of Chicago. For a full list of Black History Month cultural events and performances, visit the website here.

Second City’s Salute to Black History Month

Tuesdays & Wednesdays | February 4th – 26th | 8:00 p.m.

UP Comedy Club | 230 W North Ave. | $10 – $20

Image | The Second City

Second City’s current cadre of improv-comedy specialists celebrates February’s Black History Month by bringing you the most iconic sketches ever created by some of its African-American alumni, along with classic archive scenes freshened up for the occasion. This high-energy retrospective at Chicago’s Up Comedy Club reprises material created by alums like Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key, Tim Meadows, Stephen Colbert, Amber Ruffin, Sam Richardson and many more. Save a little as you laugh with sketches from an iconic cast for by using my code here.

Chicago Black Restaurant Week

Sunday – Saturday | February 9th – 16th | Time Varies

Location Varies | Price Varies

Image | Chicago Black Restaurant Week

Chicago Black Restaurant Week (CBRW) is a week-long celebration highlighting Chicago’s African- American restaurants and eateries in the Chicagoland area. Last year, CBRW patrons spent over 11,000 dollars at 26 participating restaurants and vendors, and continues to grow year after year. Find participating restaurants for 2020’s CBRW by visiting the official Instagram page.

Black History Fashion Meets Poetry /Music & Shop Black Business Showcase

Saturday | February 29th | 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

South Side YMCA | 6330 South Stony Island Ave. | Free

Image |Shettima Webb-Model Esteem

Celebrate Black History Month at the South Side YMCA this February. The free event celebrates black businesses and encourages shoppers to circulate their dollar in the Black community. In addition to the vendor fair, the event also features entertainment, a fashion show, and more. For more details on this event on Chicago’s South Side, visit the event page.

COLORS OF KEMET – An Elegant Affair to Enjoy Black History

Saturday | February 29th | 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy | 1060 East 47th St. | $15

Celebrate Black History Month through the exploration of costumes this month in Chicago. Colors of Kemet is a Black History celebration that will feature food, culture, and of course fashion. To purchase tickets and event information, visit the website.

The March: A Groundbreaking VR Experience

Tuesday – Sunday | February 28th – November 30th | 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

DuSable Museum of African American History | 740 E 56th Pl. | Free

Image | DuSable Museum of African American History

Make your way to the DuSable Museum for a groundbreaking VR experience for Black History Month in Chicago. TIME and executive producer Viola Davis invite you to experience, a groundbreaking immersive exhibit that recreates one of the most iconic moments in American history, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Walk with a crowd of 250,000 plus people who came to participate that day and witness firsthand as Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his iconic ”I Have a Dream” speech in a genre-pushing virtual reality experience that draws on the personal stories of organizers and demonstrators who were there. Step into history. Walk-in their footsteps. Dare to dream. For more details visit the website.

Creativity NOIR, All Star Edition.

Saturday | February 15th | 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Youth for a Better Future Youth Center |1348 North Sedgwick St. | Free

This Black History Month, celebrate Black culture and history with Chicago’s youth. The creative youth showcase features a youth showcase of ten products that center around Black History Month—highlighting five international current and historical black figures. These items will be available for order. Witness history in the making at this creative showcase. For more details, visit the event page here.

Black History Month Reception

Thursday | February 20th | 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Car Central | 430 North Michigan Ave, 8th Floor | $0 – $25

In honor of Black History Month, join CAR for a celebration highlighting the game-changing accomplishments of African-Americans throughout the city. This event will discuss opportunities to increase the black homeownership rate and how we can contribute to this important sector in our industry. Light hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer will be served. Space is limited; to register to visit the event page here.

Black Creativity at the Museum of Science and Industry

Sunday – Saturday | January 20th – March 1st | 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Museum of Science and Industry | 5700 S Lake Shore Dr. | Price Varies

Image | J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Now in its 50th year, The Black Creativity program, an annual staple at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), since 1970, begins January 14 with the Juried Art Exhibition, the longest-running gallery of African-American art. The exhibition, the largest in the program’s history, features more than 170 works of art from professional and student artists. Guests can explore these rich contributions through hands-on experiences that are included with Museum Entry, and free for Illinois residents most of January and February through the Museum’s Illinois resident free days. For more details, visit the website here.

Celebrating culture and history is not limited to just one month. You can celebrate and support African-American culture throughout the year by doing several things: Shop Black-owned business and dine at Black-owned restaurants. Recognize and empathize with the African-American issues by being an ally in the fight for equality. There’s probably more but here are a few of my suggestions, from one cultural seeker to another.

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