Chicago’s African American community has had a lasting impact on it’s culture and history. The city’s first permanent settler was a Black man from Haiti, who is now honored with a downtown bridge and a renowned cultural museum.
African- Americans would continue to shape the face of Chicago and the nation, from the Great Migration to President Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park.
Chicago is home to thriving African- American communities in neighborhoods all across the city. Bronzeville and Hyde Park are two areas where Black heritage is proudly on display, from family-owned restaurants to vibrant works of art. If you’ve never been to Chicago, a.k.a. Chi-Town, The Windy City, and The White City among other nicknames, consider adding it to your list. For generations, it has been shaped by Black people.
Here are ways you can experience African American culture in Chicago, through Black-owned businesses and cultural institutions celebrating Black heritage.
Where to Stay
Chicago South Loop Hotel (Chicago, Illinois)
The Chicago South Loop Hotel is a sophisticated boutique hotel located in the Bronzeville District. Surrounded by The McCormick Place, Chinatown, and the United Center, its location makes it ideal for traveling to any part of the city whether you’re in the area for work or pleasure. With recently upgraded guest rooms, Chicago’s South Loop Hotel is a mix of comfort and luxury, perfect for any type of visitor.
Can’t Start Your Day Without Coffee or Tea?
Then be sure to kick-off your visit to Sip & Savor. They have locations in Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Rosenwaldand SouthLoop.
The DuSable Museum of African American History should be one of the first historical sites you visit in Chicago. This significant landmark rose to actuality in 1921, by teacher and art historian Dr. Margaret Burroughs, with the help of other leading Chicago residents. Since then, it has risen in popularity and prestigiousness, being one of the few independent museums in the country. The museum was created to preserve and maintain the achievements and artifacts of black history, bearing over 15,000 sculptures, paintings, documents, and studies of African-Americans. And they continue to maintain the necessity, hosting programs and events daily.
Are you an avid reader looking to support The Culture? Head over to Semicolon Bookstore, which is proudly Black, woman, and LGBT+ owned.
Their aim is to not only sell books, but to tackle literacy issues which disproportionately impact Black communities.
To that end, they created a hashtag on Instagram, #NationalBlackLiteracyDay.
Forty Acres Fresh Market was created to make produce affordable. It was founded by Liz Abunaw.
According to the website, the organization “operates as a mobile grocery store and hosts pop-up markets in underserved communities.” Check out their market schedule here
African-American Cultural Center
Take a trip to the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to visit their African-American Cultural Center (AACC). It’s been open for over 25 years and hosts ‘innovative programs and initiatives that relate particular African-American and African Diaspora traditions, creative practices, and experiences to broader frameworks of thought, feeling, and action.’ The center features rotating exhibits and houses a research library on African American topics.
Monument to the Great Northern Migration
The Bronzeville neighborhood pays tribute to African American history with public art. In the first half of the 20th century, over six million black Americans moved from the rural South to the industrial North and West in what became known as the Great Migration. Chicago was a major destination during this movement, and that is immortalized in Alison Saar’s bronze statue of a traveling man. It sits on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and is an inspirational reminder of all the great Chicagoans the city gained during this time.