Celebrating Black History Month

By Beth Posluszny | February 1, 2024

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson ignited a movement, a call to educate and celebrate Black history and culture. His vision, originally known as Negro History Week, aimed to integrate Black history into public school curriculums and elevate its importance in academia. The 1960s saw a crescendo of protests against racial injustices, driving the change we needed. And it was in 1976, during the Bicentennial, that President Gerald R. Ford officially declared February as Black History Month. Woodson’s century-old mission, fraught with struggles, has finally achieved widespread recognition in 2024. As we mark the centenary, let’s reflect on the progress made, the challenges that persist, and how we can truly honor Black History Month.

In 2019, a significant milestone occurred when Evanston passed the first reparations law in American history. Alderwoman Ruth Rue Simmons tirelessly championed this legislation to address the deep-rooted issues of segregation and housing discrimination. Until 1969, the Black community was confined to Evanston’s 5th Ward, enduring mortgage loan rejections, limited educational resources, and inadequate healthcare access. As of August last year, over $550,000 of the promised $10 million has been disbursed, and several other U.S. cities are exploring similar reparative resolutions.

At Picnic Wine & Provisions, we take pride in promoting and celebrating the Black winemakers and entrepreneurs whose products grace our shelves. Meet some of the remarkable individuals:

Danielle Martin, a Chicago-based visionary, founded Soap Distillery in 2012, driven by sustainability, responsible sourcing, and bold experiences. In 2018, she boldly left her full-time job to pursue her mission. Come to Picnic to immerse yourself in Danielle’s soaps, scrubs, and lip balms.

D’Shawn Russell, the Founder and CEO of Southern Elegance Candle Company, has built a community-based brand that sources wax, wicks, and containers locally in North Carolina. Her candles, inspired by southern traditions, aim to connect with people, fostering an inviting and comforting atmosphere.

André Hueston Mack, a sommelier, winemaker, author, and designer, has left an indelible mark on the wine world. His wine ‘In Sheep’s Clothing Cabernet’ takes center stage as our February Wine of the Month. His mission is to make wine accessible to all, breaking down barriers with his remarkable accomplishments and innovations. André crafts unique and distinctive garage wines. Initially created for some of New York’s finest restaurants during his tenure as a sommelier. André’s journey reflects his unwavering passion for wine, having left behind a corporate career to pursue his dreams. His company name “Mouton Noir,” French for “black sheep,” pays homage to his time at Per Se, where he earned the nickname and where he stood as one of the few African-American sommeliers in the industry.

We invite you to visit Picnic and support these inspiring businesses. Additionally, HERE is a list of other Black-owned businesses in Rogers Park that deserve your patronage this month. Wishing you a meaningful February, and stay warm, friends!