What is life like for Black residents living in Oak Park today?

Join the Oak Park Public Library on Tuesday, July 13, 6:30-7:45 p.m., for the virtual program “The Black Experience Today in Oak Park and Beyond,” a conversation with a group of Black residents on their varying experiences living in Oak Park today. 

We’ll talk about the connections and understanding inherent in the Black experience. Black residents are not a monolith, and we’ll hear different opinions and perspectives throughout the evening. Among the differences, some of the panelists are raising families. Two own businesses. Two have run for local office. And one is an immigrant. 

Our wide-ranging conversation will explore the impact of intersecting identities, raising kids in the Oak Park school system, working as a community activist, the reasons for staying in or leaving Oak Park, and more.

This virtual program, held over Zoom, is designed to be an honest discussion that centers Black experiences and honors Black lives. All are welcome to attend. To register, visit oppl.org/calendar.

Panelists include: Darien Marion-Burton, owner of the marketing design firm D.M. Burton; Jacques Shalo, owner of Kribi Coffee; Juanta Griffin, community organizer and 2021 village trustee candidate; and Saria Lofton, parent and former Oak Park resident and 2021 Library Trustee candidate. The discussion will be moderated by former Library Trustee Christian Harris from the community organization Walk the Walk.

This program is being held as part of a series. In April, the library and Walk the Walk hosted the discussion, “The History of Early Black Residents in Oak Park & Its Importance Today,” featuring Stan West, author of Suburban Promised Land, about the rarely told history of Black residents of Oak Park beginning as early as 1880. Before Percy Julian moved to Oak Park in 1950, Black Oak Parkers lived here, held jobs, owned businesses, and raised families. While many moved here for opportunity, discrimination also led many to leave. 

The rich and complex experiences of Black residents of Oak Park continue today. Join us.

Tatiana Swancy is the Restorative Practices Coordinator at the Oak Park Public Library. Learn more at oppl.org/anti-racism

Join the discussion on social media!