Little eyes search Black History Month

I Spy case at the library is one of several activities putting Black heritage in the spotlight

By Ken Knutson

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Hinsdale's Liz Ewing said creating the I Spy case to honor Black History Month at the Hinsdale Public Library was an enlightening undertaking.

"I definitely brushed up on my history," said Ewing, the daughter of a Black father and white mother. "I knew a lot of the well-known figures. But when you start delving into it more and learn what people have overcome and understand things, like the first black astronaut doing something that had never been done, it's amazing to think about."

Ewing is part of Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club, members of which take turns putting together small dioramas each month for kids to search for hidden objects. Ewing said she claimed February as soon as sign-ups opened.

"I definitely wanted to make sure that (Black history) was covered," said Ewing, adding that her artist mom was a key consultant.

The case features more than a dozen prominent Black Americans, from Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks and Guion Bluford, the astronaut. Next to the case are short bios of each person.

"Hopefully people can expand their Black history knowledge," Ewing said.

Working with such a diminutive area also presented challenges.

"There was only space for so many so it was tough," she said.

The library's Katherine Wessel said the cases have become a popular attraction.

"It's just a constant flow of people stopping by. We get some adults coming down, too, and looking at them,"

Ewing actually took on double duty for February by making a Valentine's Day I Spy diorama, as well.

Ewing and husband Van have two young sons, Van, 6, and Wolf, 4. She hopes they feel inspired to grow their understanding as they grow in age.

"My sons were excited about it when we dropped it off at the library," she said. "It's part of my heritage, and I want to pass along these things to our two sons."

In addition to the I Spy case, the library also offers a Black History Month scavenger hunt and a display of books on the topic. Visit for details.

Other programs in the area are paying tribute to Black History Month:

• Actress Pamela Welcome will portray the famous abolitionish in Harriet Tubman: Alive and Free at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Elmhurst History Museum, 120 E. Park Ave.

This heart rendering, emotion packed characterization of the trials and tribulations of the phenomenal and renowned leader of the Underground Railroad will focus on specific hardships that Tubman had to endure and eventually overcome throughout her life. The program concludes with a powerful spirit and song-filled first-person characterization.

The program is $5. Visit to reserve a spot.

• Film historian John LeGear will host Movie Music Tribute to Black History at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at the Clarendon Hills Public Library, 7 N. Prospect Ave.

LeGear will reveal the ways African American writers, musicians and performers have enriched the American experience by sharing a collection of film clips, music and photos that reflects a small portion of their contributions over the past 80 years. A brief question and answer period with open discussion will follow the show.

Reservations are required. Visit or call (630) 323-8188.

• Check out the Black Trailblazers Exhibit open now through Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the DuPage County Historical Museum, 102 E. Wesley St., Wheaton.

The exhibit celebrates African Americans who have created change by breaking down barriers. Learn about several individuals who significantly impacted DuPage County through their contributions in the fields of education, sports, Civil Rights and the arts and see how these contributions are still relevant today. Black Trailblazers seeks to recognize these individuals for their ability to adapt and overcome challenges and make history.

Admission is free; the museum is closed Mondays. Visit for more information.

• Visit the Black History Month Exhibit now through Thursday, Feb. 29, at the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W. 111th St. in Lemont.

Learn about African-American skiers and the challenges they faced in winter sports.

The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit or call (630) 257-2045 for more information.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean