In 1916 a movement began that not only transformed Chicago but had one of the biggest cultural and economic impacts on the United States as a whole. Out of the 7 million African Americans that left the South looking for opportunities 500,000 of them ended up in Chicago. This year a series of events celebrate the African American experience and how the Great Migration transformed, food, music, art, urban development, and more in Chicago. Here are six of the events you can’t miss.
Departing from Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash Ave.
Tickets are $60
One of the biggest contributions of the Great Migration was music and the foundation of the Chicago blues sound. This half-day tour covers Chicago’s musical backbone. The tour starts at Buddy Guy’s Legends then heads into Bronzeville to see Chess Record Studio, Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven, the home of Muddy Waters, and a stop at the gateway to the Black Metropolis. After that you’ll pass by President Obama’s home, the Checkerboard Lounge, and end at the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.
Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St.
Tickets start at $15
This Carnival of Nations celebrates Caribbean, African, South American, and Central American countries with countless performers on two stages, world-class food, arts, crafts, a heritage competition, soccer tournament, and basketball tournament.
Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
Tickets start at $30
While starting as a small get together among friends from the earliest days of house music, this event has grown into one of the largest house music festivals in the world, attracting over 40,000 people per year. House music was born in Chicago over 30 years ago when DJs and artists like Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, Jesse Saunders, Mr. Fingers, and others were doing sets at places like The Warehouse and The Power Plant. Nicknamed the Woodstock of House Music, this festival is marking its 26th year celebrating Chicago’s homegrown dance genre.
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.
A favorite since 1979, the Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates all types of jazz in a free, open-air festival. Jazz trumpeter and bandleader Orbert Davis will perform Soul Migration on opening night to celebrate the Great Migration Centennial.
Until Sept. 25
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.
The title of this art exhibit, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry,” has more than one meaning—as do many of Marshall’s own paintings. It can be interpreted as calling the artist a master, or if you look at those who are considered old masters none of them are black and there are barely any black people in any of their work. By combining all the techniques of the old masters and using it to project his own worldview and style, Marshall shines a beautiful light on what was once invisible.