Where to celebrate Black History Month
The Garfield Park Conservatory marks Black History with a new event, "Pathways to Freedom," a self-guided scavenger hunt.
Updated: January 31, 2013 1:16PM
The Garfield Park Conservatory marks Black History Month with a new event: the monthlong “Pathways to Freedom” self-guided scavenger hunt, which highlights plants that have cultural connections to memory and freedom.
To kick things off, the conservatory is hosting a party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 that includes music, dance, storytelling and plantings.
“We’ve never done this before,” said Robin Cline, assistant director of programs and interpretation for the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. “We felt as though there were a number of plants that were deeply connected to ideas about African-American History Month, and thought it would be a nice idea to try to connect people to some of the plants here that have some really good stories to tell remembering your history.”
Saturday’s kickoff features a variety of participatory dance activities with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago between 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. followed by “A Taste of Africa” dance with the Najwa Dance Corps. Throughout the day visitors also can make “cow patties” with cowpea seeds to take home for composting — cowpeas, aka black-eyed peas, hold a special place in African-American culture and represent good luck and wealth — and sing along to spirituals inspired by Show Way (a book about four generations of African-American women) and make a four-square quilt piece also inspired by Show Way.
Quilts were used, Cline said, by Underground Railroad organizers to help slaves seeking freedom find their way North. The quilts, she added, were “ways of showing where you’re going and where you’ve been and where you’re going in the future.”
The self-guided “Pathways to Freedom” scavenger hunt features pictures of plants located throughout the conservatory that have African-American cultural connections. Visitors are given stickers for marking the plants they find.
Other places or events to check out during Black History Month are:
Black Ensemble Theater: “From Doo Wop to Hip Hop,” racial tragedy tears a neighborhood apart in this play filled with music from black musicians that spans the ages. Feb. 15-April 14, $55-$65. 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago, (773) 769-4451; www.blackensembletheater.org.
Chicago Children’s Museum: African-American culture and history is spotlighted through music, dance and art from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 8 and 3-5 p.m. Feb. 9. $12. 700 E. Grand, Chicago, (312) 527-1000; www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org.
Chicago Children’s Theatre: “Bud, Not Buddy,” about an orphaned boy who learns the meaning of family during the Depression, runs through Feb. 24 at the Ruth Page Art Center. $20-$36, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago, (872) 222-9555; www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
DuSable Museum of African American History: Exhibits include “Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Services,” “A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story,” “The Freedom Now Mural” and “Africa Speaks.” The museum also offers a slew of youth programming: I’m Your Puppet Productions, “Never Ending,” “A Legacy for America’s Children” and “African American History Makers” are just a few of the family programs on tap in February. Adults, $10; students, $7, kids 6-11, $3. 740 E. 56th Place, (773) 947-0600; www.dusablemuseum.org.
Museum of Science and Industry: The juried “Black Creativity Art Exhibition” runs through Feb. 24; new this year is artwork from high school students. The exhibit is included in general admission of $15 for adults and $10 for kids 3 to 11, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.; call (773) 684-1414 or visit www.msichicago.org.
Navy Pier: “Perseverance and Persistance — An Exhibition of Pride,” running Feb. 1-26 in the Family Pavilion North, spans 200 years and honors the contributions African-Americans have made to society. The pier also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech from 1-5 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Crystal Gardens with music, song and dance. Free, 600 E. Grand, (312) 595-7437; www.navypier.com.
Paramount Theatre: The Classic Movie Mondays series celebrates Black History Month with “The Wiz” (Feb. 4), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (Feb. 11), “Glory” (Feb. 18) and “Car Wash” (Feb. 25). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; films start at 7 p.m. without trailers. The first 100 patrons receive free popcorn and soda. $1, 23 E. Galena Boulevard, Aurora, (630) 896-6666; www.paramountaurora.com.