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If the unsharpened pencils and clean notebooks in your supermarket’s back-to-school display seem to be calling out to you rather than to your kids, answer back. Embrace the joy of learning this fall with any of eight adult-education classes that will introduce you to Chicago’s Bronzeville, medieval Britain, the vineyards of California, and five other lively topics.
Though Bronzeville is in the midst of a renaissance, many Chicagoans are still unaware of the South Side neighborhood’s cultural heritage. “In the 1940s, it supplanted Harlem as the cultural and political capital of Black America,” says Bart Schultz, a senior lecturer in the humanities at the University of Chicago. “This is where Langston Hughes read poetry and where Duke Ellington played, yet there is still this skewed impression of [Bronzeville].”
To help remedy this, Schultz tapped the oral historian Timuel D. Black to lead a one-day tour of the neighborhood for the university’s Graham School of General Studies. A collaboration between the Civic Knowledge Project, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, THE BRONZEVILLE EXPERIENCE visits the historic landmarks of this vibrant neighborhood, such as the Griffin Funeral Home, which houses a small museum of artifacts going back to the Civil War, and the Ace Hardware at 315 East 35th Street: known in the 1920s as the Sunset Café, this is where the New Orleans trumpeter Louis Armstrong rose to stardom.
Still, the real draw of this bus-tour/culture-cruise hybrid (the day ends with the poet Kim Ransom leading participants through an art exhibit and a poetry slam) is the 90-year-old Black, who narrates the story of the neighborhood based on his personal and professional experiences-which include his high-school friendship with Nat “King” Cole and the 1937 heavyweight bout at Comiskey Park between Joe Louis and Jim Braddock.
Offered by the University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies. Meets Saturday, October 13th, at 10:30 a.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 East 56th Place. $25. 773-702-8821.