In these times of banned books and censored curriculums, Black History Month is more important than ever. The month-long celebration highlights Black achievements, creativity, inventions, and history. The Black History Month tradition was actually established in Chicago in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History.”

Explore the city’s rich cultural landscape while honoring Black History Month with exhibits, concerts, tours, screenings, and events. Check out our list of Black History Month 2024 activities in Chicago.

Museum exhibits

DuSable Museum
Photo by Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

Visit Chicago’s acclaimed line-up of museums and discover thrilling displays that showcase the work of Black artists, innovators, and leaders.

  • The Art of Storytellers: Selections from the Johnson Publishing Company Collection: View the art, sculptures, lithographs, and drawings that lined the walls of the iconic Johnson Publishing Company building, the first Chicago high-rise designed by a Black architect. The exhibit at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center showcases the artwork and history of the legendary company that published Ebony and Jet magazines.
  • Faith Ringgold: American People: Examine 60 years’ worth of artwork, including story quilts, paintings, soft sculptures, and performance pieces that define the career of artist, activist, educator, and author Faith Ringgold at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Political and social change, gender and racial identity, and Black cultural history are reoccurring themes of Ringgold’s work.
  • Remembering Dr. King: This Chicago History Museum exhibit showcases the visual history of Dr. King’s legacy, with an emphasis on his time in Chicago during the 1960s.
  • Pauli Murray: Survival with Dignity: The fascinating life of Pauli Murray, a Black LGBTQ+ lawyer, poet, activist, and priest who influenced the Civil Rights Movement and Supreme Court decisions is highlighted at the American Writers Museum.
  • Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice: Also at the American Writers Museum, this exhibit explores racial injustice through the work of Black writers from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibit: This annual exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry is one of the longest-running displays of African American art.


Chicago Jazz Fest Musicans

Honor Black History Month with Black music traditions including jazz, R&B, and blues.

  • Kahil El’ Zabar: Ethnic Heritage Ensemble 50th Anniversary Concert: An original member of the ground-breaking Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, El’ Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble have performed African percussive traditions blended with avant-garde jazz for half a century. The Promontory Chicago hosts the group on Feb. 1.
  • Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: The Grammy-award-winning musician joins with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra to present a musical portrait of Civil Rights icons including Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Barack Obama at the Chicago Symphony Center on Feb. 2.
  • Experimental Blues: Nat Myers: Exploring the intersection of blues with other Black American musical genres like soul and gospel, Nat Myers also gives a nod to his Black and Korean heritage with complex blues rhythms on Feb.  9 at the Logan Center for the Arts.
  • Peter Jericho & MGeni – Love Like This: 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 on Feb. 14.

Tours and events

Historic map of Bronzeville
Photo by Eric Allix Rogers

Dive deeper into Black culture and history with tours of historic landmarks and neighborhoods, panel discussions, and speaker events.

  • Former Wabash YMCA Historic Tours: Walk through the halls of the birthplace of Black History Month with this free tour of the former YMCA in Bronzeville on Feb. 10.
  • Chicago Mahogany Tours: Discover the history and cultural legacies of Chicago’s Bronzeville, Englewood, and North Lawndale communities with Chicago’s award-winning urban historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas all month long.
  • Black History Month Chicago Reparations Celebration: Celebrate Black history and learn about reparations initiatives for the community at the Kehrein Center for the Arts on Feb. 24.
  • The Jesse Jackson Oral History Project Launch: 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 on Feb. 8.
  • Black History Month Family Event: Join activities connected to the theme of African Americans and the Arts, including music and crafts at the Chicago History Museum on Feb. 24.
Live shows
The Second City
The Second City

Enjoy the extensive range of Black arts and culture with comedy performances, films, dance, opera, and more.

Culinary events

Pearl's Place
Abel Arciniega, @tequilagraphics

February is an excellent time to frequent Chicago’s Black-owned restaurants, cooking up everything from comforting soul food to esteemed fine dining all around the city.

  • Chicago Black Restaurant Week: Sample the diverse flavors of Chicago’s Black-owned restaurants offering special deals during this anticipated annual event from Feb. 11 – 25.

Historic landmarks and monuments

Victory Monument in Bronzeville

All around Chicago, you’ll find physical reminders of the city’s Black history and culture. In particular, the streets of the historic Bronzeville neighborhood are lined with monuments and landmarks dedicated to the area’s rich African American legacy. Go on a DIY walking tour of the area and don’t miss the Monument to the Great Northern Migration, the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, the Victory Monument, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett House, and more.

Black-owned businesses in Chicago

Friends enjoy cocktails at 14 Parish
14 Parish; Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

One of the best ways to celebrate Black History Month is by supporting local Black-owned businesses. Chicago is home to a diverse community of Black-owned restaurants, theatres, shops, and beyond.

Art, theatre, music, and dance

Cafes, bakeries, and coffee

Restaurants & bars


Explore more Black-owned businesses throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods