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Virtue in Hyde Park
Virtue in Hyde Park

DNC Guide: Black culture

Explore Black Art, culture, history, and more in Chicago

Chicago is proud to welcome visitors from around the world to our great city for the Democratic National Convention 2024. While you’re here, we invite you to come experience what makes Chicago a city like no other — and why we’ve been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented seven years in a row.

Black history and Chicago history are inextricably intertwined. The city has a long history of notable Black residents, from poets to chefs to presidents, who have made a lasting impact on Chicago and the world. Here are just a few ways you can experience African American culture in Chicago, from beloved Black-owned restaurants to historic landmarks and cultural institutions celebrating Black heritage.

We’ve created these Chicago guides with five specially curated activities to help DNC visitors experience different aspects of our great city. To delve deeper and make the most out of your time in Chicago, keep exploring with our guide at the link below.

 

Explore our Black history guide to Chicago

 

1. Have an unforgettable meal at Chicago’s Black-owned restaurants

Virtue

Chicago’s thriving Black-owned restaurant community offers diners a diverse range of options, including authentic international dishes, Chicago-style barbecue, James Beard Award-winning cuisine, and beyond.

Dig into heaping portions of traditional Ethiopian cuisine at vegetarian-friendly Demera Restaurant in Uptown. Carnivores can head to Lexington Betty in Pullman, where you can try some of the city’s most acclaimed Chicago-style barbecue.

In Hyde Park, James Beard Award-winning chefs serve elevated versions of traditional Southern recipes at Virtue. Another must-visit spot is Bronzeville Winery, where art, music, and cuisine collide in a chic setting.

For drinks, plan a stop at Turner Häus Brewery, Chicago’s first Black-owned taproom, or enjoy elevated cocktails in an inclusive atmosphere at Nobody’s Darling.

Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth at the acclaimed Brown Sugar Bakery, known for its incredible cakes and desserts, or Justice of the Pies, which specializes in handmade sweet and savory pies.

Explore more Black-owned restaurants in Chicago.

2. Explore the nation’s first Black history museum

DuSable Black History Museum
DuSable Black History Museum; photo by Abel Arciniega, tequilagraphics

In Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center is the country’s first independent museum dedicated to the history of African and African American culture.

Considered one of Chicago’s principal cultural institutions, this dynamic museum boasts more than 15,000 artifacts, including priceless paintings, sculptures, and historical memorabilia. For more than 60 years, visitors have come to the museum to explore fascinating exhibits, attend engaging events, and walk the landscaped grounds surrounding the museum.

This summer, don’t miss The Art of Storytellers: Selections from the Johnson Publishing Company Collection, which features the art, sculptures, lithographs, and drawings that once lined the walls of the iconic Johnson Publishing Company building, the first Chicago high-rise designed by a Black architect. 

3. Immerse yourself in Black arts and culture

Gallery Guichard
Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

The South Side Community Art Center has been a catalyst for creativity in Chicago for almost 80 years and was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center offers diverse youth education programs, plus a robust event calendar that features poetry readings, musical performances, and artist exhibits.

Gallery Guichard specializes in works relating to the African diaspora. This inviting space is a cornerstone of the Bronzeville community, featuring both international and national exhibitions spanning mediums, including paintings, sculpture, and even furniture.

Congo Square Theater is dedicated to producing transformative work rooted in the African diaspora. And the Black Ensemble Theater in Uptown is one of the most diverse musical theatres in the country, known for lively performances that will have you up out of your seat and singing along.

The city is also home to a wealth of dance companies that honor and explore African American dance traditions, including Red Clay Dance Company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Muntu Dance Theatre, M.A.D.D. Rhythms, and more.

4. Experience jazz, blues, house music, and more

Kingston Mines

In the 1900s, the Great Migration brought thousands of African American migrants to Chicago, who introduced the city to jazz and blues and went on to create their own distinct versions of the genres. That legacy lives on today with Chicago’s many legendary music venues and events.

If you’re looking for somewhere to hear Chicago-style blues, Buddy Guy’s Legends is the place to be. The South Loop venue, owned by the legendary musician himself, features live music from fresh talent and famous acts every night of the week. 

For jazz aficionados, catch local and national talent performing at iconic venues like the Prohibiton-era Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Winter’s Jazz Club, and Andy’s Jazz Club.

House music is another beloved Chicago-born genre. Developed by local Black DJs during the late 1970s and ‘80s, house music exploded from an underground dance scene into a worldwide phenomenon. Head to M Lounge in the South Loop, where local DJs spin house tracks every weekend.

5. See Black history come to life with local landmarks

Monument to the Great Migration

The legacy of Chicago’s notable Black residents can be found throughout the city, from our downtown streets to our historic neighborhoods. 

Black history comes to life in the Bronzeville neighborhood, known as the city’s Black metropolis. The Monument to the Great Migration celebrates the historic movement with a striking statue near Chicago’s southern lakefront. Nearby, the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, honors more than 100 Bronzeville residents who have made significant cultural contributions, including civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, astronaut Robert H. Lawrence Jr., and more.

Throughout the city, you can see the homes of some of Chicago’s most prominent African American citizens, including Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Ida B. Wells. In Hyde Park, check out the spot where Barack and Michelle shared their first kiss, memorialized at the Obama Kissing Rock.

In the historic Pullman neighborhood, the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum showcases the legacy of the Black Pullman porters and the history of the African American labor movement. The only museum of its kind in Chicago, it’s located within the Pullman National Historic Park.

Explore all Chicago DNC guides