Hit the library for African-American History Month
Valentine's Day may be the occasion on many Chicagoans' minds, but February's also a time to show some love for African-American heritage. Skip the roses and chocolate and head to your local library for lectures, crafts and storytelling events celebrating black culture in the United States.
The Chicago Public Library hosts activites almost every day across its many branches. Greater Grand Crossing Library (1000 E 73rd St) offers "Exploring African American History and Genealogy" on Saturday, February 16, at 10am. Trace your family tree through CPL's database and learn how the research system works.
You can take a more hands-on approach at Jefferey Manor Library's (2401 E 100th St) African mask-painting activity on February 21 at 4:30pm. Later that evening, join the South Side's very own Renaissance Man, Lowell Thompson—an artist, author, historian and adversiting guru—at Sulzer Regional Library (4455 N Lincoln Ave). Thompson will read from his latest book, African Americans in Chicago, which chronicles the lives of local legends, from Jean Baptiste Point DuSable to Barack Obama.
The Harold Washington Library Center (400 S State St) is home to two major exhibits coinciding with African-American History Month. "Chicago's Got Soul Second To None" includes memorabilia and historical information about Chicago's signature 1960s sound through February 28. Meanwhile, "Called to Challenge: The Legacy of Harold Washington" pays tribute to the Windy City's first black mayor, the library's reformer namesake.
Or, guide your own journey through history at the independent Newberry Library (60 W Walton St). Artifacts include a love letter from Missouri slave Washington Hall to his wife, who left him to move to Illinois with her former master once freed.