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KIPP Chicago is proud to celebrate our staff, students, alumni, and community partners’ rich histories, undeniable cultural impact, brilliance, beauty, and legacies.
Peter Gooden, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, shares, “For me, Black History Month represents the celebration of Black Excellence. This excellence includes contributions to academia (math, science, medicine, etc.) that still benefits us all, our impact on culture (music, fashion, food, sports, language, etc.), and our history of greatness & resilience (too many to name). Black History Month reminds me of the Black diaspora that emanated from the motherland of Africa and has spread across the globe and influenced nations, particularly nations in the Americas and the Caribbean. BHM reminds me of the variety that is “Black culture,” ranging from our roots in Creole, the Caribbean, and Latin America. BHM reminds me how our collective voice during the Civil Right Movement created a playbook for other “subculture” movements, including the Women’s Movement and Queer Movement. BHM is crucial for our country (and our world), which has benefitted from the many contributions of Black Excellence.”
Yesterday, KIPP Ascend Primary kicked off Black History Month with an incredibly joyful showcase! Principal Curry and the entire KAP Excellence team did a tremendous job showcasing their pride for Black History, creativity, and the Arts through outstanding singing, dancing, and instrumental performances by their kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders KIPPsters.
This month, let us remember that Black joy is an act of resistance. We are inundated with so many images of trauma that our rage is undeniably justified, making joy all the more necessary. Today and always, give yourself permission to experience joy and celebrate the beauty and necessity of your existence.
Museum Exhibits, Shows and Events
A Jazz Celebration of Black History Month:
The South Side Jazz Coalition performs a free concert of jazz classics by the SSJC All-Stars on Feb 14.
Afrofuturism Stage: Chicago:
Don’t miss this live dance concert including interactive art, photography, and DJs at The Promontory in Hyde Park on Feb. 26.
Hiplet Ballerinas Sun,
Feb 19 2023, 4:00 PM
This innovative dance company (pronounced “hip-lay” – rhymes with ballet) infuses classical pointe with African, Latin, hip-hop, and urban dance styles rooted in communities of color.
Get tickets here
Talks & Tours
Walk through the halls of the birthplace of Black History Month with this free tour of the former YMCA in Bronzeville on Feb. 11 and 25.
This seminar series at the Field Museum will feature prominent educators and science professionals who will speak about their career paths and the importance of BIPOC representation in the sciences.
Chicago Mahogany Tours of Bronzeville:
Join the award-winning Chicago historian Dilla on a tour of historic Bronzeville, including landmarks of the Black Metropolis, on Feb. 11 and 25.
Learn about the impact of Frederick Douglass and other influential Black writers while getting an overview of the American Writers Museum.
Explore a directory of local and national Black-owned businesses here.
Chicago Black Owned Restaurant Week | February 12-26, 2023
Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week, founded in September 2015 by Lauran Smith (native Memphian, Chi-Town resident) was designed as a way to celebrate food/beverage/dessert businesses in the African American community. In honor of Dr. Carter G Woodson – Creator of Negro History Week – Chicago BLACK Restaurant Week has always fallen during the second week in February, which was when Negro
Founded in 1972, The Chicago-based Muntu Dance Theatre performs authentic and progressive interpretations of contemporary and ancient African and African-American dance, music, and folklore. In the Bantu language, “muntu” means “the essence of humanity.” It’s what the Company seeks to express in its work and to touch in its audiences. Through its performances, Muntu strives to create an atmosphere of communal participation, encouraging and inspiring audiences and participants to join in the celebration!
Chicago’s only Black woman-owned bookstore is a community space dedicated to both literature and artwork from female, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ creatives. Proprietor Danielle Mullen and her team work around the clock to provide a safe space for customers to relax and release—all while addressing the ongoing challenges of low-literacy skills that are commonly seen in low-income communities of color. With the help of donations through their ongoing program #ClearTheShelves, Semicolon has raised over $150,000 to provide books and financial aid to those in need.
Follow them: @semicolonchi
Founded in 2017 by Laurell Sims and Erika Allen, Urban Growers Collective is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building and supporting community-based food systems that provide affordable and sustainable eats to the communities they serve and mitigate food insecurity. In addition to agricultural services, they also operate Fresh Moves Mobile Market (maybe you spotted it on Somebody Feed Phil?), which provides farm-picked produce and healthy eats to Chicago’s South and West Sides every week.
Follow them: @urbangrowerscollective
330 E 51st St
Boxville was founded in 2014 with the mission to disrupt the typical startup model, which is rife with obstacles for inner-city entrepreneurs. What started as a single shipping container offering bike repairs has grown into a bonafide commerce district in the heart of Bronzeville with room for 20 small businesses to operate. Boxville shows no signs of slowing down—the shipping container marketplace now boasts a sausage shop (The Hot Dog Box), a loose-leaf boutique (Good Thoughts Tea Co.), and a plant haven (The Greenhouse), among many other small, BIPOC-owned businesses that operate year-round.
Follow them: @boxvillechi
For the past 24 years, Eric Williams has dedicated his life to curating authentic and creative spaces that bring value to the communities it serves. His vehicle? The Silver Room in Hyde Park. By providing a unique selection of goods and artifacts from around the world, the bespoke shop thrives on helping individuals craft their own personal expression in every aspect of their lives. Williams is also the mastermind behind the annual Sound System Block Party, a highly anticipated summer event that brings together people from far and wide in celebration of the culture and freedom of expression through vendors, food, and of course, amazing music. Speaking of music, The Silver Room Radio, in partnership with Sound Rotation, is available to stream on all platforms!
Follow them: @thesilverroom
Back in 2018, Liz Abunaw founded Forty Acres Fresh Market with the goal of providing high-quality produce to Chicago’s West Side food deserts. The organization tackles food insecurity by providing pop-up markets and delivery in underserved communities. Visitors can shop farm-fresh fruits and vegetables on-site or sign up for a subscription box for as little as $10 a month. Abunaw is now turning her attention to setting down roots, with a brick-and-mortar retail space to come in the Austin neighborhood.
Follow them: @fortyacresfreshmarket
A salon in Bronzeville that is a sanctuary specializing in intimate community healing experiences. In addition, their apothecary shop has herbs, plants, supplements, and other accessories for the healing lifestyle.