Playlist Black History

Black History

Father Augustus Tolton in 1887

The First Black Catholic Priest—a Candidate for Sainthood—and His Importance to Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

Father Augustus Tolton escaped slavery in Missouri to become the first openly recognized Black Catholic priest, ministering in Quincy, Illinois and establishing the first standalone Black Catholic church in Chicago. While there are currently no African American saints, he is currently a candidate for sainthood.
(L-R) Likely Naomi Pollard; John and Amanda Pollard; Luther Pollard. Images: Courtesy Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society

The Extraordinary Achievements of the First Black Residents of Rogers Park

Daniel Hautzinger

The Pollard family contained the NFL's first Black head coach, the first Black licensend nurse in Illinois, a producer of silent films, the first Black woman graduate of Northwestern University, a Civil War veteran, and the winner of an Olympic medal.
Quinn Chapel A.M.E. in Chicago. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thshriver

The Importance of Some of Chicago's Notable Black Churches

Daniel Hautzinger

Black churches in Chicago have played host to speakers from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Frederick Douglass to Barack Obama while supporting civil rights and social justice, as well as their own spiritual communities.
Violence against a black man during the 1919 Chicago race riot. Photo: Chicago History Museum / The Jun Fujita negatives collection

The Horrific Violence and Continuing Legacy of Chicago's 1919 Race Riot

Daniel Hautzinger

“1919 represents a moment in time that is not that distant in the past in which you can see the violence of white supremacy enacted all across the country,” says a historian. And its effects still resonate today, in housing and the relationship between police and black communities.
The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, right, and Bishop Julian Smith, left, flank Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a civil rights march in Memphis, Tenn., March 28, 1968. AP Photo/Jack Thornell

What to Stream This Month

Daniel Hautzinger

Celebrate Black History Month with some monumental surveys of history that cover everything from Chicago's African American community to the most American of music to Africa's civilizations. Plus, two documentaries about indomitable black women.
Frederick Douglass was the representative of Haiti at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Image (of Douglass): Chicago History Museum

Frederick Douglass's Defiant Stand at Chicago's World's Fair

Daniel Hautzinger

Although Frederick Douglass did not know his official birth date, he celebrated it on February 14. Late in his life, he spent a year in Chicago serving as the most prominent advocate for African Americans in a World's Fair that largely excluded them.
Carter G. Woodson, the "father of black history." Image: Library of Congress

The Father of Black History

Daniel Hautzinger

It's thanks to Carter G. Woodson (whose name graces a prominent Chicago library) that we have Black History Month, and he was foundational in studies of African American history. He fought to reform education and spread knowledge of black American's proud past.
The 8th Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard

The Forgotten Story of Illinois's Black World War I Regiment

Daniel Hautzinger

The 370th Infantry Regiment is one of only a handful of African American regiments that served in World War I and the only one commanded solely by black officers. Having fought for their country abroad, they returned home to fight for their rights.
Unidentified Black Soldier with Cannons. (Library of Congress)

African Americans in Chicago During the Civil War

Daniel Hautzinger

During the Civil War, many freed slaves moved to Chicago, swelling the black population from around 600 at the beginning of the decade to 3,691 in 1870. A black professional class began to emerge while new churches and communities were built. 
Subscribe to Black History