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2020 - Coleman's show on the great aunt Bessie Coleman kicks off ECC's Black History Month

Tags: Events
Published 01/21/2020
Black history month 2020

Black history month 2020

Elgin Community College's celebration of Black History Month kicks off on Friday, Feb. 7, with a performance by Gigi Coleman, the great-niece of Bessie Coleman, the first black female pilot in the U.S. The breakfast event begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Building E Dining Room at the college, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.

Bessie Coleman was not only the first black female to hold a pilot's license. She was also the first black person to earn an international pilot's license. Bessie Coleman could not enroll in flight school in the United States at the time, so she learned French and moved to France to get her pilot's license. The year was 1921. Her dream was to open a flight school, but died at the age of 34 in a test flight crash.

Gigi Coleman tours her one-woman show and portrays the story of her great-aunt Bessie to challenge the minds of the young and old and to encourage individuals to achieve their dreams. She also inspires youth to get interested in STEM through her aviation program, The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-stars.

"We are excited to share our Black History Month celebration with the community," said Erik Enders, student life coordinator. "This year, we are featuring lesser-known history-makers whose impact on society was just as important as some of the names with whom we are more familiar."

He added, "Bessie Coleman is a great example of these hidden gems. I am excited to see how Gigi brings her great-aunt's story to life during the kickoff breakfast."

Seating is limited, and tickets for the breakfast can be purchased for $15 for students and $20 for community members at or through the ECC Arts Center box office at 847-622-0300.

Full Black History Month schedule includes:

Voter Rights Panel Discussion

February 4, 2020

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Building B, Spartan Corner

The 1965 Voting Rights Act created a significant change in voting rights for African Americans. Join us in the Spartan Corner to explore voter rights over the decades and importance of your vote in today’s political climate!


Kickoff Breakfast   

February 7, 2020

8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Building E, Dining Room

Come celebrate Black History Month in style! Enjoy black history brought to life as GiGi Coleman portrays her great-aunt, daredevil pilot Bessie Coleman. Tickets are $15 for students, $20 for community members, and can be purchased at


Tunnel of Oppression   

February 12, 2020

12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.

Building H, SecondSpace Theatre

The Tunnel of Oppression is an interactive, guided event focused on contemporary social justice issues centered on the concepts of oppression, micro-aggressions, and the “isms” experiences by numerous communities today. This is an event that invites participation from all people.


Autobiography of a Freedom Rider Sponsored by the ECC Humanities Center

February 18, 2020

Building G, Spartan Auditorium

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Civil rights foot soldier Thomas Armstrong discusses his memoir detailing his early life working as a voting rights organizer with Mississippi’s State Field Secretary, Medgar Evers.


Black History Month Read-In/Write-In

February 19, 2020

12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

Building C, Room C120

Readers and writers from ECC and the community are invited to read works by African American writers, artists, and musicians. Professor Chasity Gunn, Elgin’s Poet Laureate, will lead this experience, with a chance to create works of your own.


Project 1619 Sponsored by MAGIC

February 26, 2020

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Building G, Spartan Auditorium

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from that began in August 2019, which marked the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.  It aims to re-frame the county’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative. Come join the discussion.


African Ball

February 28, 2020

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Building B, Jobe Lounge

Join us for the conclusion of Black History Month! Celebrate Africa through fashion, food, song, dance, presentations and more. Tickets are $15 per person, with kids under the age of five free, and can be purchased at


The 2-3-1 Project: Connecting Elgin’s African American History

March 3, 2020

11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Building G, Spartan Auditorium

Discover Elgin's local African American History through a first-hand account by ECC's Professor Emerita of Sociology Joyce Fountain, a participant in the 2-3-1 documentary project.  In addition, the 2-3-1 Project mobile art exhibit will be across from Spartan Corner in Building B.