Black History Month symbolizes triumph over adversity. It’s a celebration of the heroic contributions of African American leaders who have paved a road towards racial equality. But Black History Month doesn’t just honor leaders of the past. It also celebrates the significant, meaningful and impactful ways the entire black community has affected our country. Failing to appreciate the achievements of our ancestors can estrange us, divide us and hurt us as a nation. United Way stands by African American leaders who strive to encourage peace and reconciliation and discourage animosity. We celebrate Black History Month because we support the principles black leaders promote and the ideas they advocate.
Chicago is host to one of the proudest African American communities in the nation. We live in a region full of neighborhoods with rich cultures and historic successes. Our work at United Way of Metro Chicago is only possible because we can stand on the building blocks of cooperation that leaders of all races and ethnicities have laid before us. Many of our partner agencies are finding unique ways to celebrate this month, and we encourage you to do the same. Here are just a few events that our partner agencies have planned in honor of this year’s Black History Month:
The murder of Emmett Till and his highly-publicized funeral showed the injustice of institutionalized racism and acted as a catalyst for the civil rights movement. Bright Star Community Outreach examines this historical systemic racism and uses it as a space to open up important dialogues. Join Bright Star on February 20th and 27th to discuss the power of collective action and the violence that is prevalent in the black community.
One of the most important goals for Black History Month is to educate youth on past leaders and their sacrifices. Losing sight of the past can cause the same mistakes in the future. The Gary Comer Youth Center recognizes this danger. To teach young people about African American history, they are hosting various activities on February 21st, 23rd and 28th.
The civil rights movement is such a significant part of the African American narrative that it has become intertwined with black culture. The Black Film Fest at the Chicago Urban League will display the intersection of African American culture and civil rights. They will screen movies and host guest speakers on February 13th, 20th and 27th. This year’s theme is #TheStoryOfOurVote.
African American history doesn’t just start in the United States. Countless events, going back millennia, have shaped the historical and contemporary experiences of the black community. The Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, in collaboration with the Evanston community, has created a community project that aims to introduce viewers to the entirety of black history. Using historical texts, art, photographs and artifacts, the project explores black history from the origins of humankind to the NFL-kneeling protests. Come by every Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday this month to see the different exhibits.