The Reason Why…

Co-curated by AACC director Lori Barcliff Baptista and Verna (Kay) McCrimon, designed by Pam Rice, and funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council

June 6 - October 11, 2013 / AACC Gallery

Summer 2013 marked the launch of our flagship fall exhibition, The Reason Why the Colored American was NOT included in the World’s Columbian Exposition.

  • July 16th, 2013, Ida B. Wells Birthday Celebration
  • July 25th, 2013, “Ida in Her Own Words,” Book Signing with Michelle Duster at Jane Addams Hull House
  • August 9, 2013, “The Reason Why” Traveling Suitcase Workshop

The purpose the exhibit was to recognize the 120th anniversary of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 — also commonly referred to as the Chicago World’s Fair — as an opportunity to relate historical accounts of African-Americans’ thoughts, feelings and experiences of the Fair to contemporary debates over who benefits from large-scale public festivities in Chicago.  Organized around the perspectives espoused by the four African-Americans who co-authored Ida B. Wells’ pamphlet, The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition, this project:

  • Explores how many African Americans felt about being excluded from the planning processes and representational practices of the World’s Columbian Exposition (WCE);
  • Highlights some of the lesser-known contributions of “Black” Chicagoans during this time period and how they were celebrated in the “ethnic” or “minority” press;
  • Sparks dialogue over the ethical conundrum of how “ethnic” peoples and cultures were represented in the fair; and
  • Relates the legacy of the World’s Columbian Exposition to contested uses and representations of public space in Chicago.