Carter G. Woodson, who established Negro History Week in 1926, created the event not to rattle off a series of “firsts”. Instead, it is to recognize as a way to provide resources to teach a history that was largely excluded in American history. In essence, study Black history throughout the year, then present your findings to the community during the second week of February. In 1976 the week was expanded to encompass the entire month of February.
Across the country, citizens organize programs, classroom exercises and various celebrations in recognition of the history and achievements of the Black community. Shorefront made it its point to go out into the communities and present new findings and join others in celebrating Black history with its first involvement with the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center’s kick-off celebration on February 2. In addition, Shorefront was asked to present the “Living Legend – Trailbrazer Award” to Leon Robinson, Jr. at the African American Achievement Award held at Evanston Township High School on February 28.
Shorefront had a jumpstart just before February hosting a January 30th reception at the Legacy Center with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Chi Omega chapter with the official handoff of materials to be incorporated into Shorefronts archive. On January 31, Shorefront founder, Dino Robinson delivered seven back-to-back 40-minute discussions on local history and findings at Niles North High School in Skokie. Dino revisited the high school on February 19 to discuss “tell your own story” and how online blogs can help disseminate your own story.
Shorefront gave additional presentations to Evanston’s noon Rotary club on February 20th and to over 100 employees at PACE Transportation headquarters in Arlington Heights during their Black History Month luncheon celebration on February 28. On Feb 27, Shorefront was part of a panel during a joint 5th and 7th ward community meeting entitled “Evanston Myths”. Sponsored by the City of Evanston and hosted on Northwestern University campus, the event was live tweeted. You can follow Shorefront via twitter @SFLegacy.
Shorefront, the Evanston chapter NAACP, the African American History and Genealogy Study Group of Evanston and the Haitian Congress sponsored three consecutive discussions related to local, national and global action and historical influences within Black communities. Held during the first three Saturdays in February, the topics were: “Restoring Voting Rights, Political Power in the Black Community”, Valuing Creative Arts in the Black Community”, and “The Continuing Legacy of Pan-African Resistance”. Each two-hour session engaged community members in thoughtful insight and conversation with 12 speakers addressing the subjects.
Shorefronts resident Scholar, Doria Johnson, has been involved in several lectures on and about her work entitled “I Am Not What You Think I Am: African American Women and Domestic Service in Suburbs: Evanston, Illinois, 1910-1945”. Doria gave presentations at the Evanston History Center of February 13 and at Sherman United Methodist Church on March 2. In addition, a Medill School of Journalism student also interviewed Doria for an informative PSA on her and Shorefront’s work.
Shorefront began a new filming project on and about participants of the North Shore Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The project focuses on memories, thoughts, reasons for involvement, and influences experienced growing up in areas of the northern suburbs that were predominantly white in social makeup. On February 22, participants and mothers of the North Shore chapter visited the Shorefront Legacy Center for a tour, a documentary screening and a Q&A moderated by Rev. Gessel Berry, Jr. and Doria Johnson.
Wrapping up the month, Shorefront board members, staff and advisors, celebrated at KOI restaurant on February 26th. During the month of February, KOI identified Shorefront as recipient of their monthly fundraising activity. Patrons who at table 23 or ordered take out, a percentage of the bill went to support the activities of Shorefront.
Shorefront also received a donation from the good folks over at FLOR.com, a Chicago based company. FLOR awarded the Shorefront Legacy Center with a gift of carpet tiles through their “FLOR Carpet for a Cause” rug donation. The Plug— FLOR carpet design squares let you create area rugs, runners, even wall-to-wall designs that are easily custom-sized to fit any space. You can also choose from pre-designed area rugs and runners or mix and match FLOR carpet design squares to create your own.
Additional archive donations to Shorefront came from the Noyes Cultural Arts Center involving the International Black Arts Museum, musician Chris Greene consisting of his new CD “Music Appreciation” and items about the North Shore chapter of Jack and Jill from Carmen Corbett. The North Shore communities also lost several people who have left a mark in history. A few include Dr. Betty Burns Paden, community activist Rosetta Gradford and Carl Davis – all long-term supporters of Shorefront.
If you know of families with interesting histories, consider having an archive at the Shorefront Legacy Center where future generations can research and learn about the Black communities on Chicago’s suburban North Shore.