Brilliant Stories

Black History Month in the Champaign-Urbana Area

January 18, 2024

February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to honor the contributions and rich cultural heritage of African Americans. From running the oldest business district in the City of Champaign to the Early Achievements in Homer & Southeastern Champaign County, African-Americans directly shaped the place we call home. This month is embraced with a variety of events and celebrations that highlight our community’s vibrant history and ongoing impact. We compiled a growing list of BHM events, as well as Black-owned businesses and restaurants to support all-year-round!


Do you know of an event specifically geared towards Black History Month in the Champaign-Urbana area? Let us know by emailing!

Last updated: 2/9/2024

Events in the champaign-urbana area


The Black Joy Project
Where: The Spurlock Museum (600 S Gregory St)
When: February 2 through December 1

Running from February 2 through December 1, 2024, the Black Joy Project aims to make an unprecedented celebration of Black JOY visible in our communities and museum spaces. The project celebrates the beauty, joy, and resilience of Black women and girls and their lived experiences during COVID-19 and the social unrest after the brutal deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. 

Quilts: Secret Codes to Freedom on the Underground Railroad

Where: Urbana Free Library (Zoom)
When: February 7, 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.

Join Connie Martin as she tells the stories passed down to her great-grandmother Lizzie of how her family survived the antebellum period through trials and tribulations, and how they used quilts that contained hidden codes and secret messages to assist abolitionists–white and Black–to guide enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad to Canada.

DIY Kids | Black History Bingo

Where: Douglass Branch Library (504 E Grove St., Champaign)
When: February 7, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Learn about famous people, places, and events in Black History by making your own bingo card and playing together at our weekly do-it-yourself activity for kids!

Storytime and a Craft: Celebrating Black History Month

Where: Tolono Public Library District (111 E Main St, Tolono)
When: February 12, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Come to the library for a storytime and craft celebrating Black culture, accomplishments, and joy! Recommended Ages: 0-5.

The Magic of MoTown

Where: The Virginia Theatre (203 W Park Ave)
When: February 9, 7:30-9:30pm

THE MAGIC OF MOTOWN features 15 power vocalists accompanied by a six-piece band that sends you on a journey through Motown's best, including: The Temptations, The Jackson Five, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and more!

CU Folk and Roots Winter Festival

Where: Rose Bowl Tavern (106 N Race St)
When: February 9, 8:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
February 10, 1:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Come to the Rose Bowl Tavern and enjoy an eclectic mix of music including exceptional R&B by Haki N' Dem, soul-stirring melodies by the Gospel of Qui, and much more!

Black Love Day Celebration

Where: Independent Media Center  (202 S Broadway Ave)
When: February 10, 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This event will include self-care services, lunch will be provided and an open mic will be facilitated!

Duke Deuce at the Canopy Club

Where: Canopy Club (708 S Goodwin Ave)
When: February 10, 10:30pm - 


Where: Virginia Theatre (203 W Park Ave)
When: February 16, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Musical styles come and go, but there's one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage, and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday. GOSPEL, the latest history series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., digs deep into the origin story of Black spirituality through sermon and song. Explore the history of Black gospel music, coming out of slavery, blending with the blues tradition, and soaring to new heights during the Great Migration. From Mahalia to Kirk Franklin, in the last century, gospel music has become the dominant form of African American religious expression and provided a soundtrack of healing and uplift to those at the front lines of protest and change.

UF Live! Presents Reginald Lewis and Friends

Where: Urbana Free Library (210 W Green St)
When: February 18, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

It's a live music celebration of Black History Month at the Urbana Free Library! Reginald Lewis & Friends is a dynamic jazz ensemble led by saxophonist Reginald Lewis. Inspired by Philadelphia’s vibrant jazz scene, the group pays homage to the city's rich musical heritage while infusing their performances with a fresh and contemporary approach. 


The launch of illinois soul

Freshly launched on the first day of Black History Month, Illinois Soul FM 101.1 is a brand-new radio station that elevates Black voices, music, and culture throughout central Illinois, and online, with the power of public media! Illinois Soul airs NPR shows, produces local news for broadcast and the Web, and works hand-in-hand with the community to address their needs and concerns. Be sure to tune in and get the latest news by visiting the link here. 





Krannert Uncorked

Krannert Uncorked is a great opportunity to connect with your favorite local and regional artists in a cozy, intimate atmosphere. All five Uncorked events in February will be presented in collaboration with Illinois Soul 101.1 FM in celebration of Black History Month! 




February’s Krannert Center Uncorked series will feature the following artists:

February 1: Afro D & Global Soundwaves

February 8: Dexter O’Neal and the Funk Yard

February 15: Soft Spoken

February 22: Haki N Dem

February 29: Nadirah Shakoor



Black Champaign County 

Through events, live music and history, the Champaign-Urbana area is rich in Black culture. Home to many Black-owned businesses from restaurants to shops, you can listen to live music, pick up a sweet treat, enjoy some barbecue and go shopping all while supporting our Black-owned business owners. Discover their brilliant storefronts by visiting our Black Champaign County business directory here! 





Sooie Bros. Bar B Que Joint is offering two BHM Dinner specials!

The first dinner offers:

Three piece whole wings (smoked BBQ), an 8oz side of homemade baked Mac n' Cheese, an 8oz side of homemade Collard Greens and a cornbread muffin for $16.00.

The Second dinner offers:

1/3 slab (4 Rib Bones) a 8oz side of homemade baked Mac n Cheese, an 8oz side of homemade Collard Greens and a cornbread muffin for $18.00. Stay tuned for more updates by following Sooie Bros. Bar B Que Joint here: Facebook | Instagram


Neil Street Blues will be hosting a Black History Brunch Buffet, held on Sunday, February 18th, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The brunch will be priced at $35 and will feature a few special items on that date! Stay tuned for more updates by following Neil Street Blues here: Facebook | Instagram





learn about the african american heritage trail

The Champaign County African American Heritage Trail is an excellent resource for all ages—through Reconstruction and the Great Migration, through the Depression and two world wars, through the Civil Rights era right up to the present day. Discover over 170+ years of history and learn about the powerful stories of African Americans who directly shaped the place we call home.







Do you know of an event specifically geared towards Black History Month in the Champaign-Urbana area? Let us know by emailing!

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