Black History Month

Each February, people across the United States take part in recognizing Black History Month with events and education to further the public's understanding of black history. Wheaton's Community Relations Commission encourages the community to learn about Black History Month and explore some of the many local events offered for the community throughout the month and explore some of the local events offered throughout the month.

2023 Black History Month Theme

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History establishes a theme for each year's Black History Month. For 2023, the theme is “Celebrating Black Resistance”. You can learn more about this year’s theme here.

The College of DuPage events will bring this theme to life by examining how African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing systemic oppression in various forms throughout American history up to the modern era. You can learn more about their month long events here.

Wheaton's Role in Important Aspects of Black History

The city of Wheaton has a rich history rooted in black history, especially with regards to the Underground Railroad. During the abolitionist movement, Wheaton was known for being a safe haven for fleeing slaves, especially at Wheaton College. 

Visit the links below to learn more about the role the city of Wheaton played in black history, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can follow the Wheaton History Ride tour map to view and learn about some of the specific landmarks of the Underground Railroad.

Other Local Resources About Black History

We encourage you to check out the following videos from the Library of past programs and exhibits that cover a range of topics on Black History.

  • African American Heroes & Sheroes: Tuesday, February 21st, at 7:00 PM - Virtual Only:
    Starting with her own family, riveting storyteller Linda Gorham shares stories of African American men and women who broke color barriers to accomplish much – often despite difficult circumstances. She will incorporate music, photographs personal narratives, quotes and historical facts to commemorate their achievements. Sponsored by City of Wheaton Community Relations Commission, Wheaton Public Library and League of Women Voters of Wheaton. Register here.
  • “A Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad”: Wheaton author Glennette Tilley Turner and fellow author, LaVonne Brown Ruoff, discuss Turner's new book, A Man Called Horse, which covers the daring account of Black Seminole warrior, chief, and diplomat John Horse and the route he forged on the Underground Railroad to gain freedom for his people.
  • The First Civil Rights March in Wheaton: A panel discussion on the first civil rights march for fair housing in Wheaton in 1966 with residents who participated in this historic event, including Ray Odom, Bernie Kleina, and Claude Audley Jr. Historic overview provided by Zach Bishop, DuPage County Historical Museum.
  • The Color of Law & Reversing Segregation with Richard Rothstein: Author and researcher Richard Rothstein presents the policies that led to racial segregation in American communities, and what can be done to reverse these practices and work towards racial equity.
  • Glennette Tilley Turner - Author Retrospective: A retrospective of her children's books. She will discuss the importance of documentation and expose young readers to the role of African-American history in the context of American history.

Books About Black History Month

In addition to the various events, the Wheaton Public Library also has multiple books for residents to view and learn about various events and topics surrounding Black History Month. Below is a list of some of the books.

Adult Services Books

  • African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, edited by Kevin Young
  • The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Black Firsts: 500 Years of Trailblazing Achievements and Ground-Breaking Events by Jessie Carney Smith
  • A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
  • Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World by Wil Haygood
  • Driving While Black: African-American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights by Gretchen Sorin
  • Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines
  • Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain