Ethnic Heritage Museum salutes Black Historical Fraternal Organizations

• Dinner set for Feb. 9 at Rockford College, exhibit opens Feb. 10 at museum

Online Staff Report

Rockford’s Ethnic Heritage Museum (EHM) will host a two-day celebration of Black History Month Feb. 9-10. This year’s celebration is a tribute to “Black Historical Fraternal Organizations,” which include the Masons, Eastern Star and the Blackhawk Elks.

The exhibit will showcase how these service organizations of professional men and women impact the community in areas from youth development, education, scholarship, health awareness and social action.

To kick off the celebration, the African-American Gallery is hosting an Italian Dinner buffet and “Divine 9” Step/Stroll Show exhibition at Burpee Center/Regent’s Hall at Rockford College at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9.

The “Divine 9” are the nine historic Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities. The Step/Stroll show will feature both graduate and undergraduate members.

Tickets for the Italian Dinner/Step Show celebration are $25 for adults and $15 for students. College students are required to present ID. To purchase a ticket for the dinner, contact members of the black fraternities/sororities, or online at

From 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10, the “Salute to Black Historical Fraternal Organizations” exhibit will be unveiled at the EHM, 1129 S. Main St. A short program will begin at 2:30 p.m. Admission for the unveiling is free to the public, but donations are appreciated. Light refreshments will be served.

How much do you know about the Black Mason? This exhibit will feature Welcome Star Lodge No. 36 PHA Free & Accepted Mason, Master Builders Masonic Lodge Prince Hall Origin F&AAYM, Princess Zoriah Chapter No. 20 PHA and IBPOE Blackhawk Elks Lodge.

In addition, the exhibit will pay a special tribute to Paul W. Caine, one of the founders of Kappa Alpha Psi, a one-time resident of Rockford who is buried at Greenwood Cemetery. It will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

EHM is unique in its blend of ethnic groups — African-American, Italian, Lithuanian, Irish, Polish and Hispanic. A visit to each of the six galleries will enlighten visitors of the cultural history of each of these groups and their contributions to life in Rockford. Group tours can be arranged by contacting the museum at (815) 962-7402 or e-mailing The museum is handicap accessible.

The “Salute to Black Historical Fraternal Organizations” exhibit will be on display at the EHM every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m., Feb. 10-April 7. Admission after Feb. 10 is $3 for children, $5 for adults and $10 for families.

For more information, visit or e-mail

Posted Feb. 6, 2013

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