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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 Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World's Columbian Exposition

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.