By Magdalene Paniotte
Among the many wonderful ways to celebrate African American culture and history this month, these noteworthy events are great options to consider.
Celebrate Black History Month at Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave. at Navy Pier
Chicago, IL 60611
Dates: Feb. 7-9
Located at Navy Pier, the Chicago Children’s Museum is a cultural attraction and popular destination for families with children in the early stages of exploration and discovery. An exciting environment designed to develop creativity and sensory perception, the CCM features three stories of fun, bountiful exhibits with interactive activities that encourage and allow kids to associate learning with imaginative play. In celebration of African American month, the museum will host a special three-day event presenting live music and dance from performing groups in the area. Children will also create original works of art to mark the occasion.
Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago at Harris Theater
205 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
Dates: Feb. 9
Celebrating 30 years of stellar gospel concerts all over the world, Walt Whitman’s Soul Children of Chicago will perform at the Harris Theater in remembrance of African American culture and history this month. The inspirational choir singers have graced the halls of numerous dignitaries and harmonized with many famous vocalists in their ongoing commitment to touch audiences and young people everywhere, through resounding vocals filled with energy and passion. A lively gospel group, the young singers symbolize a brilliant light of hope in their mission to share the joy of God’s spiritual presence.
“Imitation of Life” playing at Harold Washington Cultural Center
4701 S. King Drive
Chicago, IL 60653
Dates: Feb. 8 through Mar. 31
Founded in 1998 in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, the Harold Washington Cultural Center was built to commemorate the late Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor. A modern and spacious state-of-the-art theatre venue and educational resource for aspiring artists, the HWCC’s in-house production company runs a full schedule of performances each season. In honor of Black History Month, the novel “Imitation of Life,” by noted early 20th century writer Fanny Hurst, comes to life in a dramatic depiction of a widowed housewife struggling to rise above racial tensions and her own fear of success.
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” at Porchlight Music Theatre
4200 W. Diversey Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
Dates: Feb. 2 through Mar. 10
An award-winning professional theatre company now in its 18th season, Porchlight Music Theatre proudly presents a true-to-life, intimate portrayal of the legendary jazz singer Billy Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Formerly Eleanora Fagan, the 1950’s gifted music sensation emerged from the roaring 20’s era, rising to prominence at a young age in the company of such greats as Count Basie and Bennie Goodman. Holiday is best remembered for her amazing vocal sound, a soulful blend of rhythm and blues that eventually came to define the jazz age. An awe-inspiring one-person performance, “Lady Day” will be showing at Stage 773.
A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum
10406 S. Maryland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60628
Established in memory of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Civil Rights leader Asa Phillip Randolph, the historic Pullman Porter Museum was founded in 1995 and is a monument to the first labor movement lobbying for equal rights in the workplace. The museum’s mission is to inform the public about African American culture and history, and houses a permanent exhibit documenting railway industry events leading up to Randolph’s pioneering formation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union; a movement whose outcome would give way to stability and liberties during a time of struggle for emancipation in the 1920s and 30s.
Magdalene Paniotte is from Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre and has studied creative writing at the graduate level. Maggie enjoys composing articles and developing her voice as a freelance writer. Her work can also be found at Examiner.com.