We’ve reached the end of DuSable week in Chicago. I have one last site that needs discussing, however, and that is the DuSable Museum of African-American History. According to the museum guide, “Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (November 11, 1917 – November 21, 2010) was a prominent African-American artist, writer and founder of the DuSable Museum of African-American History.” I also have to point out she was a teacher. Dr. Burroughs founded the museum in 1961. On the lower level of the museum a gallery displays some of her artwork.
The museum stands on 57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Upon entering the museum you will step into Founder’s Hall which features mosaics of Dr. Margaret Burroughs and, of course, DuSable standing in front of his cabin. (Regrettably, but understandably, no photography is allowed in any part of the museum so if you’re local and have the opportunity, head out to see the mosaics and other galleries because my descriptions will not do them justice. If you’re from out of town and unable to visit, I’m sorry, but my descriptions will have to do them justice. Or just visit the museum’s website.) Once in Founder’s Hall, turn right just past the ticket table and head down the hallway with the gift shop to see a large, bronze bust of DuSable. It was sculpted by Robert Jones in 1979.
In another gallery called “Africa Speaks” there is a small theater showing a short film called Celebrating Chicago’s First Settler: Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable. I didn’t officially time it, but the film appeared to be about 15 minutes long and reenacted important moments of DuSable’s life.
Currently at the museum there are multiple art shows displaying paintings by Charly Parker and also artists of the AfriCOBRA collective such as Wadsworth Jarrell. One exhibit by artist James Pate is small, but contains powerful images titled Kin Killin’ Kin. Please go visit the museum or go to their website for more information.
Before I finish discussing DuSable, I need to mention one last thing: his departure. DuSable closed his successful trading post and left the mouth of the river in 1800. He sold his property to Jean La Lime. The violent facts story of Jean La Lime’s death and how the DuSable property eventually became the “Kinzie mansion” will be my next post in September.
As always, thanks for reading.
Other sources & further readings: Bessie Louise Pierce The History of Chicago: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848, Volume One Christopher Robert Reed Black Chicago’s First Century, Volume 1, 1833 to 1900