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06.22.23 | Sage Advice

Juneteenth: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Present, Envisioning a Vibrant Future

In the spirit of learning and understanding that fuels the Sage Collective, we’re delving into a significant moment in our shared American history, a moment that anchors us to our past as it guides us towards a more inclusive future – Juneteenth.

The essence of Juneteenth is one of freedom and liberation, dating back to 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation declared enslaved African Americans free. The truth of this newfound freedom, however, took two years to permeate every state, with Texas being the last to hear the news. Hence, Juneteenth was born, officially recognized by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.

The celebration of Juneteenth, while filled with joy and reverence for the resilience of freedmen and freedwomen, was not devoid of strife. However, the spirit of determination and unity endured. By pooling resources, formerly enslaved people bought land in 1950, creating Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas, a testament to their collective resilience and a place for future Juneteenth celebrations.

The Juneteenth flag, designed by Ms. L.J. Graff, embodies this shared history and vision. Its colors echo the American flag, asserting the rightful place of freed people and their descendants as American citizens. The central star pays homage to Texas, while the bursting new star symbolizes a new dawn and new freedom.

As we honor Juneteenth, we also acknowledge the complex emotions that accompany this day of celebration. The weight of history can bring feelings of anxiety and stress, emotions we at Sage Collective encourage our members to acknowledge and discuss. We are committed to creating a safe space for these dialogues, believing that understanding our past is a crucial step toward shaping a vibrant and inclusive future.

Juneteenth, much like our mission at Sage Collective, is about embracing freedom and fostering vibrant living for all. It reminds us that freedom is also about the liberation of the mind and spirit. It’s about the courage to acknowledge the pain of our past, the determination to celebrate the progress of our present, and the vision to foster a future of justice, inclusivity, and vibrant living for everyone.

Join us as we commemorate Juneteenth this month and every month, and let its history and values inspire us as we continue to work towards a future where everyone can live vibrantly.

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01.20.22 | Sage Advice

National Bills Look to Recognize Bronzeville as a National Heritage Area

At Sage Collective, Bronzeville has always held a significantly special place in our hearts and identity. And, even as we continue to expand beyond our neighborhood’s borders, one of our favorite things is to spotlight the achievements and impacts that the community leaves on Chicago and the rest of the country. Today we’re exploring our neighborhood’s latest recognition: the national bills seeking to honor Bronzeville as a National Heritage Area.

Over the past few years, Bronzeville has seen a true renaissance; welcoming new businesses, families and cultures while still showing deep respect and appreciation for its vibrant history. As one of the most thriving Black communities throughout the early 20th century, Bronzeville set itself apart as a hub for talented artists and musicians, stunning architecture, booming businesses and more. 

Introduced by US Representative Bobby Bush and Senator Dick Durban, the bills intend to identify a new national heritage site within Bronzeville because of its rich contribution to the country’s culture. Although a similar bill in 2016 proved unsuccessful in passing, the latest version is backed by extensive planning and organizing.

If passed, the exciting recognition would welcome a breath of energy to the community. With more and more developments blooming each day, the implementation of the bills would further expand the resurgence within the community. They now head to the subcommittee on National Parks, where they get reviewed before being voted on by the United States House and Senate. 

With only two other National Historic Areas in the state, Bronzeville would continue to set itself apart as a cultural landmark not only within Illinois but throughout the country. You can find updates on the progress of the House of Representatives’ bill here and the Senate’s bill here

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12.21.21 | Sage Advice

A Brief History of The Chicago Bee

The promotion of Bronzeville’s rich history is something we continuously advocate for and give voice to at Sage Collective. That’s why today, we’re spreading the word about The Chicago Bee, a local paper that dominated the press for decades while distinguishing itself by its promotion of Black history.


The Chicago Bee, often referred to as Chicago Sunday Bee, was founded by Anthony Overton in 1925. Overton was a successful banker and manufacturer, and the first African American to lead a major conglomerate (Overton Hygienic Company, which was a cosmetics business). After its founding, the Bee moved into the now-famous Art Deco building located at 3647-55 S. State St., which is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a Chicago Landmark. 

The Bee’s staff included many esteemed members of Chicago’s community of writers and journalists at the time. Chandler Owen, a talented writer, became editor of the Bee after moving to Chicago in the 1920s and worked with other savvy editors including Ida B. Wells and Olive Diggs. During the World War II years, when men were in active military duty, the majority of the writing staff were women, which allowed them unprecedented autonomy and opportunity for advancement. 

The Bee covered a wide range of issues of the day. It was the first newspaper to support the efforts of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first all-Black labor union created during conflicts at The Pullman Company. It also supported and covered the Black women’s club movement, and gained distinction from other newspapers in the Chicago press in their publicity of Black history and literature.  

Following Overton’s passing in 1946, the Bee was briefly run by his two sons but ceased operation in 1947. Even though very little of the historic newspaper has survived today, it is still recognized as one of the most influential and acclaimed papers of the 20th century. 

Through Sage Collective’s vision, we are proud to contribute to the legacy of African American culture, community and success that is, and always has been, the heart and soul of Bronzeville.

The Chicago Bee front page from May 4, 1941
The Chicago Bee Building
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12.02.21 | Sage Advice

Exploring Bronzeville: The Little Black Pearl’s New C47 Work and Experiment Lounge

Bronzeville is a community whose residents are known to appreciate and demonstrate their love for their community. Sage Collective has been a part of Bronzeville since 1978, and we certainly aren’t the only organization that shares a deep respect for the historic persons and events that lived and transpired there.  Little Black Pearl, a thriving nonprofit found near Kenwood, is just one of the many other organizations actively engaged in bringing inspired change to the people of Bronzeville and its surrounding areas. 

The Little Black Pearl is popularly known as a ground-breaking educational program that provides youth with a safe environment within which to learn new skills, explore various programming and be surrounded by positive leaders and role models. The organization has been at the forefront of change on Chicago’s South Side for nearly 30 years. 

With this track record now established, Little Black Pearl is using its experience,  knowledge and appreciation for its community, to expand its programming initiatives to an older audience. Little Black Pearl’s founder Monica Haslap led the organization in its launch of  C47 Work and Experiment Lounge in November 2021. 

The lounge, which is found at 1060 East 47th Street, invites adults into a collaborative space to inspire creativity and explore new passions. Built with innovation in mind, this new environment includes fully operational workshops that range from culinary classes, to art projects and office spaces where anyone looking to escape the hardships of the past two years will gladly find tranquility.

Members who join the C47 Work and Experiment Lounge will be exposed to numerous creative visionaries and experts in music, technology, fashion and finance. For adults interested in becoming a member, memberships range from $50-$200 per month, and all offer a variety of different opportunities within the lounge. 

With hopes of serving longtime members of the community as a safe, creative space where unconventional ideas can thrive, C47 Work and Experiment Lounge embodies the values that Little Black Pearl has demonstrated for decades. And, like Sage Collective, the organization will likely continue leading change in the community for decades to come.

C47 Work and Experiment Lounge Interior, Photo Courtesy of Armand Morris
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10.26.21 | Sage Advice

Revolutionizing Bronzeville and the Construction World: A Conversation with Shevaz Freeman

As renovations continue at our 4108 and 4112 S King Drive properties located in the heart of Bronzeville, we sat down with the owner of Urban Intention Design and Build and general contractor for our project, Shevaz Freeman, to discuss her experiences in the world of construction and the progress of the projects. 

Urban Intention Design and Build is a Black woman-owned-and-operated company, which is rare in the general contractor domain. Tell us about your experience in the industry, and what has led you to where you are today. 

Running my own contracting company, Urban Intention Design and Build, as an African American woman absolutely comes with its struggles, but every experience I’ve had — good and bad — has led me to where I am today. Simple things like respect and recognition can be difficult to attain at times, and because of my gender, I have to maneuver within the environment with a whole different perspective. However, because of my significant experience in the field, I’ve discovered how best to navigate challenges I may encounter to my advantage. 

I’ve picked up numerous techniques and approaches that give me a leg up because I feel like I’ve had to work harder than a lot of other people in my field to get where I am. I’ve trained myself to have heightened attention to detail. Sometimes, contractors don’t have the “big picture” in mind and don’t fully pay attention to the endless little things happening on a project. Because I’ve been doing this for over ten years, I find it extremely easy to fully envision the outcome of every project from day one, which is a significant skill in contracting.

What does your role as General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive project involve? 

As the General Contractor for the King Drive projects, it’s my job to oversee and run almost everything. I am responsible for managing budgets, directing on-site subcontractors and conducting meetings with the Sage Collective Properties’ team. However, at the end of the day, my most important job is to make sure that the client gets what they envisioned at the beginning of the process. 

Who are the others who are involved in the renovation of these King Drive buildings, and how does your role fit in? How do you view the nature and value of the relationships you have been able to build with other professionals on this job?

Throughout the renovation, numerous people will walk in and out of the properties. Two people I’ve worked very closely with over the past few months are the Owner’s Rep and experienced General Contractor, Ernest Brown, and the Architect, Gregory Williams. Mr. Brown has provided me with incredible guidance and oversight throughout the project, and his rich expertise in the field has been remarkably beneficial and essential to our process. 

Overall, I’ve unquestionably developed relationships on this job that I believe will continue to provide immense value in the future. It’s so important in jobs like this that each party involved feels like they are valued as part of a larger team, and that is a feeling that is certainly present here. No matter who I am talking to daily, everyone understands that their role is essential for the project’s success.

Explain to us how you see Sage Collective’s vision of having “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living for older adults” come to life in the residences you are currently helping them rehab?

I originally went to school for interior design, so because of that training and the fact that I’m such a visual person, I’ve been able to envision Sage Collective’s concept since the project’s very early stages. As soon as I was introduced to the vision for “vibrant, high-quality, affordable living” and walked through the properties, there was no question that it was achievable, and day by day, I’m witness to its progress. 

Since we strive to make sure that every element is constructed with thought and care, the process behind bringing the vision to life is very meticulous. We discuss everything from the sizing of doors to the proportion of the showers to the type of lighting assembled in each room to make sure we specifically address the needs of older adults. All details throughout the process are constantly brought into question to ensure perfection. 

Do you think that there is enough emphasis by the government or social service organizations on meeting the need for affordable housing in this community? If so, please give other examples. If not, why not?

The need for affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods like Bronzeville, has been ignored by the government for the longest time. However, I think more and more organizations are finally stepping up, and we are moving in the right direction. One of the initiatives putting money into communities like Bronzeville that have essentially been ignored by the city for years is Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West.

The wonderful thing is that the initiative has encouraged even more developers to invest in affordable housing construction like the upcoming 43 Green projects. Having been born and raised on the south side, seeing the amount of interest currently being poured into the communities holds a special place in my heart. But with that said, the progress is long overdue, and there is still a long way to go until affordable housing needs are met. 

How does your perspective as a contractor inform your view of the future of the availability of affordable housing in Chicago?

In 2021 material costs for almost all aspects of home building and renovation skyrocketed, and they continue to go up. The shift over the past year also means that low-income families aren’t making the extra money they need to afford market-rate housing, making affordable housing even more in demand than ever before. Generally, historic properties like Sage Collective Properties’ buildings in the Bronzeville community are selling for very high prices. Some have been renovated, but others have either been abandoned for years or have not been preserved due to the high expenses that come with the process. 

With time, everything deteriorates. So, without any help, it’s hard to keep these properties affordable for residents. The sad reality is that without continued help from the city, state or federal government — and investments from organizations like Sage Collective Properties  —  it’s going to be hard to keep developing affordable housing in these neighborhoods. 

Have there been unexpected or unique issues that you’ve been challenged with on this project?

The King Drive properties are mature buildings in a very historic area that have been neglected for a long time, so of course, there have been surprises that we’ve come across throughout the renovation. We’re discovering issues now that I’m sure didn’t even cross the mind of the previous owners because development is so different now than it was back when these buildings were built. One specific uncovering was the deterioration in some of the exterior bricks. We found small trees, weeds and other plants vibrantly growing in the actual spaces between the bricks, so we’ve had to uproot all of those. 

The one thing I will say is that it is a solid building and has very healthy bones. So, we can still put it back together with ease. Overall, I’m just so happy to see the phenomenal progress we’ve made so far and can’t wait to see the finished product. I’m also very appreciative that Sage has allowed me the opportunity to work on this project and be able to help them create something so wonderful, especially since I’m in my own community doing it!

Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
Shevaz Freeman, General Contractor for Sage Collective Properties’ King Drive Projects & Owner of Urban Intention Design and Build
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10.14.21 | Sage Advice

Pass Your Time With Podcasts: What You Should Be Listening to Right Now

While autumn is a favorite time for many to pick up new books and revisit forgotten ones, podcasts also serve as a great choice for those looking for a mix of entertainment, education and reflection. Podcasts are usually free to listeners and extend knowledge on everything from how to cook healthier meals to entertaining history facts to current government and public policy news. Here are the top five podcasts Sage Collective believes you should be listening to right now: 

Ten Percent Happier

Hosted by Dan Harris, a famed journalist who suffered a panic attack live on national television, Ten Percent Happier explores how keeping your spirits up is imperative to aging well. After his traumatic on-air experience, Harris discovered meditation and now invites experts on the subject, scientists and celebrities to share their own epiphanies and experiences of success. Topics on the show vary from What to do About Eco-Anxiety to Joy Vs. Happiness. Anyone interested in hearing motivational stories about coming back from what seems like life’s lowest points will enjoy this outstanding selection. 

Into America

Into America is a podcast that sheds light on what it’s like to be Black in America. Trymain Lee, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Winning journalist hosts the enlightening show. The MSNBC-produced podcast explores how public policy and government action, and the lack thereof, affects Black Americans’ lives. Previous topics include The Vaccine Gap, Justice for Black Farmers and The Black Firefighters of 9/11. Into America produces an in-depth look into the continued injustice that Black Americans endure and what it means to hold the country to its obligations.

History Unplugged

A show that celebrates obscure historical facts and events, History Unplugged uncovers and revisits lost stories that changed the world. History buffs and amateurs alike will enjoy the unique narratives, expert interviews and call-ins that make up the podcast. Previous episodes of the show include The Japanese-Americans Who Fought Nazis in Europe, Electric City: Ford and Edison’s Vision of Creating a Steampunk Utopia and An Alternate History of the Lincoln Assassination Plot. Chocked full of amusement, myth-busting and a range of wisdom, almost everyone is guaranteed to relish over History Unplugged.

Not Old – Better

Award-winning journalist Paul Vogelzang hosts the fascinating, high-energy podcast, Not Old – Better. The inspiring show reminds its audience weekly that it is never too late to pursue your passion and purpose in life. Vogelzang invites a mix of well-known entertainers, intriguing role models and ordinary people to discuss aging and how to overcome the stereotypes and stigma that come with it. Previous guests have included actress Octavia Spencer, Dr. Anthony Fauci and activist Khary Lazarre-White. Listeners and critics alike have praised the podcast as a perfect choice for middle-aged and older adults.


Homemade is the paramount podcast for anyone looking to explore the food world. Foodies and amateur cooks alike will enjoy the entertainment show hosted by industry insider Sabrina Medora and author Martie Duncan. Each week the hosts invite celebrated cooks from all walks of life to discuss and share their memories behind their favorite recipes. Past topics on the show include growing ingredients at home, delicious vegan options, repurposing leftovers and rethinking prep time. Get your cooking gear ready, put on your apron and prepare to join the fun with Homemade

Whether you need something to listen to on your way to work or while doing chores around the house, don’t hesitate to press PLAY on any of these wonderful podcasts. You can listen to each of the podcasts on their websites, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or Google Podcasts. 

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08.26.21 | Sage Advice

Bronzeville Spotlight: Ida B. Wells & The Light of Truth National Monument

The neighborhood of Bronzeville, where our 4108 and 4112 S. King Drive properties are located, is home to a variety of monuments and structures honoring legends from the community. Today, we’re spotlighting one of the neighborhood’s newest additions: The Light of Truth Ida. B. Wells National Monument.  

Ida B. Wells

Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War in 1862, Holly Springs, Mississippi. She wrote for newspapers – under the pen name Iola – attacking Jim Crow policies, criticizing education in Black schools, and most notably exposing the lynchings of many Black citizens in and around her community. After establishing herself as a force in the journalism world, Wells became an editor and co-owner of The Free Speech and Headlight – a Black-owned newspaper based at the Beale Street Baptist Church in Memphis.

In 1893, Wells moved to Chicago and furthered her activism as a leader for Black feminism. She continued publishing famous works like Southern Horrors and The Red Record for the anti-lynching campaign and suffrage movement. Wells later participated in the National Afro-American Council and the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for her reporting.

Ida. B Wells great-granddaughter Michelle Duster stands next to a plaque of her at The Truth of Light monument.
Michelle Duster stands next to a plaque of her great-grandmother Ida B. Wells at The Truth of Light National Monument, Photo by Antonio Perez of the Chicago Tribune

The Monument

Officially titled The Light of Truth Ida B. Wells Monument, the impressive structure honors the outstanding legacy of its namesake and is the first monument in Chicago to honor a Black woman. It is the work of brilliant Chicago-native artist Richard Hunt, a legendary force who has  broken barriers in the art world throughout his career and is known as the foremost African-American abstract sculptor and artist of public sculpture in America. You can view more of Hunt’s exemplary work here

The 20-foot structure was dedicated in July 2021. It has three bronze columns shooting from the ground and supports an intertwining of braided bronze metal resembling flames at its top. The site where the monument lives is located just outside of Ellis (Samuel) Park at 37th Street and South Langley Avenue. It was the former home of Chicago public housing project (the Ida B. Wells Homes) in the 1930s, which was taken down in 2011 and replaced with new apartment complexes.

Organizers hope the new monument can be a gathering spot for neighbors and visitors alike and will serve as a backdrop for the future of the Bronzeville community. Be sure to check out the remarkable sculpture for yourself before Chicago’s winter approaches!

The photo is of Richard Hunt's: The Light of Truth Ida B. Wells National Monument. Three golden steel pillars hold up twists of braided gold steel sitting on a platform above them.
The Truth of Light Ida B. Wells Monument, Photo by Antonio Perez of the Chicago Tribune
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07.29.21 | Sage Advice

Performing Arts Center comes to old Marshall Fields Building in Bronzeville

As we’ve seen with the initiative to restore The Forum and the persistent preservation of Black and African-American history through the Bronzeville’s Historical Society, new projects continue to emerge across the Bronzeville neighborhood, including a renovation of the former Marshall Field Warehouse. 

The warehouse, located at 4343 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, will be reimagined as a performing arts center and museum. The original building was erected in 1915 by Marshall Field and had a sister building located in Lakeview — now also a theatre. 

The building will continue to hold great significance as home to the future African American Museum of Performing Arts (AAMPA). This “living” museum will house an archive of African American performance art and allow visitors to experience, participate and witness an abundance of performance art. You can learn more about the AAMPA here on their website

The planned theatre, to be known as the Lillian Marcie Theatre, will include a 350-seat main theatre, a 100-seat black box theatre, dressing rooms, rehearsal areas and a roof deck. The theatre’s name originates from the nonprofit group overseeing the project, Lillian Marcie Legacy Company. Actor Harry Lenox, who is part of the all-star team developing the project alongside Keith and Aaron Giles and Michael Worldlaw, named the nonprofit after his mother, Lillian, and longtime mentor, Marcella “Marcie” Gillie. 

The Chicago Community Development Commision voted in mid-July to recommend $3 million in tax increment financing (TIF) be set aside by the City Council to help finance the project in Bronzeville. Along with TIF, the nonprofit also seeks to take advantage of other tax benefits in order to develop the future project contracted by Ujamaa Construction. 

With plans to start construction in January 2022 and complete the work in early 2023, the Lillian Marcie Legacy Company and Bronzeville neighborhood have yet another exciting development to look forward to as the community’s entertainment and cultural offerings continue to flourish.

A rendering of the future Lillian Marcie Theatre and museum in Bronzeville
Courtesy of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development
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07.27.21 | Sage Advice

Celebrating Bronzeville’s historic Pearl’s Place

The feeling of an enriched shared experience is something we at Sage Collective advocate for ourselves as well as for the community around us. That’s why we love to highlight some of the most culturally rich and lively locations in the neighborhood near our future King Drive properties.

One of these locations is Pearl’s Place; a food staple that is often voted one of the best restaurants in the neighborhood — and has secured its place as one of the most beloved spots for large gatherings and some of the most delicious meals in Bronzeville. From being featured on Windy City Live with Carla Hall to being chosen as a top 5 soul food locations by Midwest Living, their feel-good food and welcoming atmosphere say it all. 

Having been owned and operated by community leaders and running successfully for more than 30 years, Pearl’s has become the heart of the neighborhood in many ways. It’s a perfect place to stop for their legendary buffet after visiting Bronzeville’s numerous art galleries, shopping at local boutiques or leaving a church service.

The dining environment has always been a huge part of Bronzeville’s culture and landscape — read more on that and Bronzeville’s history here — and Pearl’s is a big part of that tradition. Whether they are celebrating the neighborhood’s history or offering their southern-style soul food classics, Pearl’s is proud of their cozy environment that’s meant for everyone to enjoy.

Not only does Pearl’s show passion towards the success of the Bronzeville community in ways like hiring locally and within the neighborhood, but they also offer sponsorship for local events. Pearl’s continues to support the neighborhood’s deep roots as one of the most vibrant epicenters for Black culture and history, and never ceases to give back to the community all while looking towards our future. For all this and more, Pearl’s Place has earned a special place in the community. Pearl’s Place is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and located at 3901 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60653.

A picture of Pearl's Place in Bronzeville
Bronzevile's Historic Pearl's Place
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07.22.21 | Sage Advice

Bronzeville Spotlight: Victory Monument

As we continue to develop our properties at 4108 S King Drive and 4112 S King Drive, we enjoy putting the spotlight on landmark locations in our historic Bronzeville neighborhood to celebrate and dig more into its rich history. Today, we’re exploring one of the city’s best-known and respected monuments, especially in Chicago’s Black communities, the Victory Monument. 

Chicago’s Victory Monument, which stands near the intersection of King Drive and East 35th Street, was built in 1927 in honor of the all-Black, Eighth Infantry Regiment of The Illinois National Guard, whose members served during WWI under the French. Created by the French American sculptor, Leonard Crunelle, the monument’s main structure was built in white granite with a bronze doughboy (common nickname for American soldiers during WWI) figure standing on top. That figure of the soldier was added almost ten years after the original construction.

There are three bronze panels around the sides of the monument, each representing elements of Black culture and history of Black soldiers through life-sized figures. The first panel, the Victory Panel, presents a cloaked female figure representing motherhood and holding a branch that symbolizes victory. The second panel, the Columbia Panel, displays another female figure with a helmet on her head holding a tablet engraved with a list of battles that Black soldiers fought in. The last panel, the African-American Soldier Panel, depicts a Black soldier from the Eighth Regiment with an eagle standing at his feet. A fourth bronze panel facing north holds the names of the 137 total members from the Eighth Infantry that lost their lives fighting in WWI. 

The monument was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and labeled a Chicago Landmark in 1998. The monument is also home to many annual celebrations and observances including its Memorial Day ceremony and the starting location of the historic, and largest Black parade in the world, the Bud Billiken Parade. 

Having been in place for almost 100 years, Victory Monument continues to illuminate and commemorate an important part of history, and is just one of the many special landmarks located in our historic Bronzeville neighborhood.

Photograph of Victory Monument in Bronzeville
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