How to celebrate Black History Month 2024 at UChicago

Editor’s note: If you would like your Black History Month event included in these listings, please e-mail us at

Nearly a century ago on the South Side of Chicago, University of Chicago alum Carter G. Woodson, AB, AM 1908, laid the groundwork for what would become Black History Month.

A trained historian and one of UChicago’s first Black graduates, Woodson witnessed how Black people were often ignored in the books and teachings of U.S. history. He and other leaders promoted studying Black history as a discipline and advocated for celebrating the accomplishments of Black Americans and other peoples of African descent. What first started in 1926 as Negro History Week, in honor of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, later became Black History Month.

This February, a number of events at UChicago welcome audiences to engage in conversations about the various themes of Black History Month and how they relate to today’s world. Learn more below:

Feb. 1: Discussion with the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, will deliver a talk titled “Decolonizing the Imagination” at the Harris School of Public Policy’s Keller Center. Learn more at the Harris website.

Feb 2: Screening of Riotsville, U.S.A.
Join the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory for a reflection on the rebellions of the 1960s and the machine that worked to destroy them. The film screening at the Logan Center for the Arts will include an introduction by Assoc. Prof. Allyson Nadia Field. Obtain free tickets at the 3CT website.

Feb. 4: “Our Story, Our Future, Our House” event
The daylong conference invites audiences to examine the narratives of members of the UChicago community with the broader Hyde Park and South Side communities. It aims to foster dialogue among faculty, students, alumni and community members around the evolving dynamics and experiences of Black students at UChicago. Register at UChicago’s Alumni and Friends website.

Feb 6: Panel discussion on intersectionality of identities
UChicago Ph.D. candidate Leila Blackbird and others will discuss how their indigenous identity has interacted with other aspects of life, such as queer identity, Black identity, health, historical trauma and the larger diaspora. The event will be held at the Harris School of Public Policy’s Keller Center. Free, with dinner provided for registered participants.

Feb. 6: Screening of Punch 9
The UChicago student-run Doc Films and the Harris School of Public Policy will screen the 2021 documentary, which chronicles the rise, surprising reign and enduring legacy of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor. Tickets are $7 and available through the UChicago Arts Box Office or at the door.

Feb. 9: Lunch with Prof. Brad Braxton
The Divinity School and Martin Marty Center will kick off a month of events in honor of Black History Month with a lunch and talk by Prof. Brad Braxton. President and professor of public theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary, Braxton is an ordained Baptist minister and the founding senior pastor of The Open Church in Baltimore. He is the author of five scholarly books exploring the intersection of religion and social justice.

Feb. 15: Quilting workshop
The Divinity School and the Smart Museum of Art are co-sponsoring a quilting workshop inspired by the work of influential artist Faith Ringgold. During the workshop, Smart Museum staff will lead participants in a reflection on the relevance of quilting and creative arts to African American spiritual life. Participants will have the opportunity to create a collaborative collage “quilt” that will be displayed in Swift Hall.

Feb. 17: Symposium on mental health and wellness
The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice will host an event that will examine the barriers and stigmas surrounding mental health and wellness in the Black community, with a particular focus on Black men.

The event, the African American Alumni Committee 2024 Symposium, will include a panel discussion and small group workshops on mental health and wellness and will be highlighted by a moderated keynote discussion from Courtney B. Vance. The renowned actor is the co-author of a recent book “The Invisible Ache,” which examines the mental health crisis for Black men and boys. The discussion with Vance will be moderated by Janelle Goodwill, a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor at the Crown Family School. Register for the event, which is free and open to the public, at the Crown Family School website.

Feb. 20: Community lunch and film screening
The Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will host a community lunch and film screening, in honor of Black History Month.

The event will feature the award-winning film, “The Making of Mahalia Jackson Court, which examines how architects, artists, craftspeople, and community stakeholder”s worked together to transform a vacant lot on the South Side of Chicago into a gathering space. Nedra Sims Fears, the film’s producer and executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative, will lead a discussion after the screening. Learn more and register here.

Feb. 22: Musical performance inspired by artist Bob Thompson
The Black Moon Trio will perform classical music representative of visual artist Bob Thompson and others at the Logan Center for the Arts’ Performance Penthouse. The free show is hosted by the Smart Museum of Art, which exhibited the visionary Black painter’s work in 2022.

Feb. 23: Panel discussion on sports, race and labor
The Stone Center for Research on Wealth Inequality and Assoc. Prof. Damon Jones of Harris Public Policy will lead a panel discussion featuring sports analyst Bomani Jones and Chicago Booth Prof. Matthew J. Notowidigdo. The event will examine the state of NCAA athletics labor relations, its racial dynamics, and how those topics relate to broader labor struggles and inequality. Registration for the panel is encouraged.

Feb. 24: Storytime for children
The Regenstein Library will host a storytime event that will merge Black history with children’s literature.

Author and educator Carmenita Peoples will lead the event, which is most suitable for children under 10 years. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or teacher while in Library buildings. Admission is free, but tickets are required for entry. Learn more and register for the event here.

Feb. 28: Lunch with Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III
The Divinity School invites the public to a lunch and talk at Swift Hall featuring the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III. The senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago, he is a third-generation advocate for civil and human rights. No registration is required.

Feb. 28: Celebrate Black art, cuisine and culture
UChicago Dining and its vendor, Chartwells, will host its third annual evening mixer at the Logan Center. The event will feature a panel discussion, free food, and live music and special performances by UChicago’s Organization of Black Students and the African and Caribbean Student Association.