DuSable Museum in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History was the site of the TIME magazine launch of “The March” virtual reality event in February 2020. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for TIME)

My District: Is Home to the Nation’s Oldest Independent African American Museum

By State Legislatures News Staff | Sept. 28, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

Peters
Hunter

Every month is Black History Month at the DuSable Museum of African American History, home to more than 15,000 diverse pieces, including paintings, sculpture, prints and historical memorabilia.

Originally named the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art, the museum was established in 1961 by Margaret Taylor Burroughs, an artist, writer and activist. It operated out of Burroughs’ home until 1973, when it was moved to a former Chicago Park District facility in Washington Park. The museum was then renamed to honor Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the Haitian-born settler who founded Chicago.

We caught up with Senators Mattie Hunter (D) and Robert Peters (D), whose districts include the DuSable Museum, to talk more about the significance of its 60-year history.

 

What makes the DuSable Museum stand out among museums in Chicago?

Hunter: I am proud to say that my siblings and I attended DuSable High School, and the DuSable Museum is truly one of a kind. It serves as an invaluable resource not only to our community, but to visitors from across the country. The museum attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Peters: The DuSable Museum is rich with African American history and culture. I love that it connects Black Chicagoans with our ancestry. Many school groups travel there, giving the kids in school a chance to learn and be proud of our heritage at an early age. 

Have you been to the museum before? What is your favorite exhibit?

Hunter: One thing DuSable is great at is the ability to tell a story. I am very fond of “The Harold Washington Story,” because Washington was a mentor of mine. I’m glad to see the ways DuSable has honored his legacy as the first African American elected as Chicago mayor, and how his contributions have shaped the work we do as legislators today.

Peters: I was very intrigued by the “Freedom, Resistance and the Journey Toward Equality” exhibit. As a former community organizer, I appreciate how this exhibit highlights the sacrifices and the setbacks of those who came before us. It is humbling and thought provoking to see how far we’ve come.  

What else is great about this area? What other attractions should people see?

Hunter: There are so many great attractions to see in our city. There’s the Magnificent Mile, which is a great place for people who like to shop. If you like art and history, there’s the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, Millennium Park is in the district I represent. It has state-of-the art architecture and exhibits, including the famous Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean, and often holds gatherings and cultural events. The Bronzeville community holds historical and cultural significance as well.

Peters: Other attractions to check out that are great for tourists and even Chicago natives include the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. There’s always something to do in Chicago—it just depends on what your vibe is on that day.

The 3rd and 13th districts are also represented by Representatives Lamont J. Robinson Jr., Sonya M. Harper, Curtis J. Tarver II, and Kambium Buckner.

“My District” gives NCSL members a chance to tell us about life in the places they represent, from the high-profile events to the fun facts only locals know.

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