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.

2022 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 2022, the theme is “Black Health and Wellness,” and acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways in which the Black community has contributed to healthcare (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diasporas.

The College of DuPage events will bring this theme to life through a Black History Month Expressions Competition and panel discussions as well as touch on other topics in recognition of Black History Month. You can learn more about their 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.

Community Relations Commission Events

The History of Gospel Music - Researched by Vocalist Tanya Egler, B.S. Ed.
Monday, February 21 * 7-8 p.m. * Gary United Methodist Church
Take a journey through the centuries of Gospel music, lyrically narrated by soloist Tanya Egler. The music history will range from the 1600s to the present day. This presentation will include facts such as the “Talking Drum” in West Africa and lead up to contemporary gospel songs of the 21st century. While Ms. Egler will share highlights of her personal musical journey as a member of the Weeden Family Singers and Director of the Wheaton College Gospel Choir, she will also render vocal tributes to the late Thomas A. Dorsey, “Father of Gospel Music”, and gospel pioneers such as Mahalia Jackson, Andre Crouch and legendary brothers Edwin and Walter Hawkins (Oh Happy Day). Livestream is available at

Wheaton Public Library Exhibits & Events

Jay Moore Exhibit
February 1-28, Arts & Cultural Center
The Library is proud to display 35+ unique Fine Art pieces from Fine Artist Jay Moore. Her thread and fiber art are a tribute to Black History. Visit to learn more about Jay Moore and her artwork.

Adult Programs

Emancipation to Inauguration
Monday, February 7, * 7-8 p.m.
Join local historian Clarence Goodman for this retrospective of Chicago’s Black Experience. African-American history in Chicago began with Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable in roughly 1790 and has continued productively and dramatically into the 21st century. From Provident Hospital to Chess Records to Harpo Studios, the stories are vivid and timeless. Register here for the Zoom link.

Youth Programs

Mae Jemison and Constellations
Thursday, February 10 * 4-4:30 p.m.
Join us over Zoom as we get to know Mae Jemison and participate in a STEAM activity! Registered participants can pick up a supply kit beginning February 3 at the Youth Services desk. Register here for the Zoom link.

Dr. Patricia Bath and Science
Monday, February 14 * 4-4:30 p.m.
Get to know Dr. Patricia Bath and participate in a STEAM activity! Registered participants can pick up a supply kit beginning February 7 at the Youth Services desk. Register here for the Zoom link.

Lonnie Johnson and Inventions
Monday, February 21 * 4-4:30 p.m.
Get to know Lonnie Johnson and participate in a STEAM activity! Register here for the Zoom link.

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.

  • “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 that will be on display.

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