Navy Pier Navy Pier, previously known as the Municipal pier, opened in 1916. Its purpose was to be a place for leisure for the public as well as a shipping hub for cargo and passenger ships. Less than a year later, the U.S. declared war on Germany, and the pier adapted to an important role in military preparations. In WWII, it became a naval base.

The University of Illinois satellite campus was created on the pier as a result of the GI bill, a bill that provided benefits to soldiers returning from war. From 1946 to 1965, an estimated 100,000 students took classes there. Once the campus moved off the pier, the pier was unused until 1976 when America’s Biennial was celebrated there. The grand ballroom was reconstructed, and the pier became a Chicago Landmark in 1977. Chicagofest, an annual music festival was created, and it took place on the pier. This festival made the pier more of an attraction until the festival ended in 1983.

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art suppliesOriginating back to the early 1900s, Black History Month is an opportunity to place a spotlight on the history, the culture and the feats of Black people. The Black community continues to excel as pioneers and innovators. Illinois is home to a large number of artists and entrepreneurs. We appreciate and highlight the pronounced dedication to their craft. This is a list of a few Black Illinois artists who produce breathtaking bodies of art:

Dwight White II – This artist and creative consultant is from the greater Chicago area. He challenges himself in pursuit of an insightful agenda to promote expression and authentic conversations. As a strategist and multi-disciplinary creative, White devises a conglomerate of radiant colors, beauty, power, experience, life, and raw emotion into his paintings and his words. Check out his work at

Martha A. Wade – Observant of her artist father while being raised in Oak Park, Wade’s desire to become engulfed in her own world of art grew. In 2000, Wade attended the University of Michigan for a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She was fearful to chase her dreams of becoming an artist. However, she returned to school in 2008 to pursue her passion in which she received her Masters of Art Management. Years later, Wade’s art may be found within the country but also internationally in countries such as Scotland, Ireland, and Sweden. Her art is a composite of boldness, meditative practice, muse, existential realities, the highest self, and the feminine essence. You may view her art at

Natalie Osborne – Influenced by the Chicago atmosphere and the intricacies of various expressive worlds like fashion and graffiti, Osborne presents original contemporary work highlighting the beauties of black women. She advocates and creates artwork to support the mission of criminal justice organizations such as the Innocence Project. She encourages other creators to continue pursuing their skill, and if they are feeling lost, she advises they find a cause and allow their art to speak for it. She is very popular among interior designers. If interested in viewing some of her current pieces, go to

Nikko Washington – Raised in Hyde Park, Washington has absorbed the cultural essence of his environment and incorporated its aesthetic touches into his body of artwork. He currently holds the position of artistic director for SaveMoney, a Chicagoan hip-hop collective. In this role, Washington has been asked to design album covers for a number of musicians, like Kami, Vic Mensa, and Towkio. He specializes in different art styles and forms. From painting to screen-printing and graphic design, Washington produces an explosion of color and emotion when he encounters a canvas. To preview his work, visit

Tyler Clark – Affiliated with many top celebrities and companies, this Chicago artist experiments with unique forms of art. She creates 2D and 3D crafts by incorporating hair, fabrics, and jewelry. Her pieces display a flare of women’s empowerment and a sort of authenticity. Clark’s artwork has repeatedly been featured in galas and exclusive events. She remains an inspiration to young girls and urges the acceptance of Black beauty as she continues making strides in the art industry. Check out her work at her personal art website:

pexels patrícia paixao 4134527Today is National Popcorn Day – a day to grab Illinois’ state snack to celebrate. First originating in 1988, National Popcorn Day fell on the same day as the Super Bowl for years, giving people a fun way to celebrate the day.

Popcorn has special roots right here in Illinois. Since 2003, popcorn has been Illinois’ state snack. There are more than 300 popcorn farms throughout the state which led second and third grade students at Cunningham Elementary School to propose that popcorn become the state snack. Their teacher, Fran Hollister, helped get former Senator Larry Walsh to sponsor a measure to make popcorn the state snack.

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Vase and casket from the 19th centuryColonel Benjamin Stephenson, one of the 33 men who helped design the Illinois Constitution, is one of the founding fathers of Edwardsville, the third oldest city in the state. As a renowned merchant, sheriff, road commissioner, U.S. House of Representative member and Federal Land Officer, Colonel Stephenson left behind a legacy of wealth and political power that is captured in the Benjamin Stephenson House of Southern Illinois.

The Benjamin Stephenson House was built in 1820 as a place of dwelling for Colonel Stephenson and his family. After his death, it survived a series of ownership and is now an establishment recognized by the Illinois Association of Museums. As a museum, it allows patrons to immerse themselves in the 19th century with the help of actors who portray the honest story of the cultural, political, social and architectural beginnings of our state. In addition to these live exhibits, the Benjamin Stephenson House offers holiday food programs which incorporate period-appropriate recipes in modern-day delights, educational lectures, workshops and special events such as trivia nights. It also provides activities from the Stephenson era like bread baking, leatherworking, constructing and period games for entertainment and education.

Just last year it celebrated its 200th anniversary. The site serves as one of Edwardsville’s historic highlights, having housed many of the wealthiest and most powerful political figures in Illinois at its inception. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is among a handful of homes built in the first quarter of the 19th century that remains standing in Illinois. The gravity of these accomplishments can also be seen in the toys, clothing, books and other items from the past available for purchase at the website.

The Benjamin Stephenson House is located at 409 S. Buchanan Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025. Admission fees are $6 for adults, $3 for children between ages 6 and 12, and free for children ages 5 and younger. Masks are required in the building regardless of vaccination status. Tours occur March-December on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these same months, tours are available on Sundays from 12-3 p.m. More information can be found at

calculatorMore students from diverse backgrounds will now be able to become accounting professionals thanks to a new partnership between the City Colleges of Chicago and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The partnership will focus on improving access for students who want to pursue accounting but don’t want to leave Chicago. Southern Illinois University Carbondale has entered an agreement with City Colleges of Chicago that will allow students in Chicago to pursue a bachelor’s degree from SIU while staying in Chicago. Both institutions of higher education say they hope it’ll help draw more students of color to the field of accounting. The National Association of Black Accountants says fewer than 9% of accountants and auditors are Black. Illinois is taking the lead in expanding professional access to historically underrepresented groups.

Students participating in the program will pay the first two years of tuition at their community college rate. Following graduation with an associate’s degree from the community college, students can go on to complete their SIU bachelor’s degrees online without leaving Chicago. After completing their first two years in their community college, students will receive a $4,000 scholarship once they transfer to Southern Illinois University for their final two years.

This recent initiative is part of a broader effort made by SIU to expand its joint programs with participating community colleges across the state.  On Oct. 4, SIU Carbondale entered agreements with Harper College, Oakton Community College and Harold Washington College, part of City Colleges of Chicago. The signing ceremonies were part of a larger SIU Carbondale initiative, called the “Saluki Takeover Tour: Chicago.” Representatives of SIU Carbondale met with school administrators, alumni groups and others to improve access for students and build partnerships in the Windy City. The agreements with Harper College and Oakton College, in suburban Cook County, will give qualified community college students the option to earn their bachelor’s degrees remotely and at a lower cost in six academic programs: accounting, business and administration, health care management, radiologic sciences, criminology and criminal justice, and psychology. Beginning next year, Illinois students will have more educational opportunities that they may not have thought were available to them before.