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ALWH’s 20th Year Celebration: Special Evening of Music, Poetry, and Art at Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar Exhibition

About the program

Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Chicago Cultural Center

78 East Washington Street, Chicago, IL

Daily 10:00 AM-5:00 PM

The Black Girlhood Altar

When Amber went missing, they named an alert after her. When Sharnecia went missing, they did nothing. It makes sense: the disappearance of Black girls has gone on for centuries.
– Angelina Cofer (age 15) and Anaya Frazier (age 16)

The exhibition Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar is intended as a sacred site for missing and murdered Black girls and women. Assembled by A Long Walk Home’s artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narciso and Black girls in Chicago, the altar is a mixed media, object-based installation initially created during the pandemic to transform public spaces from trauma sites to collective remembering and power.

The Black Girlhood Altar honors eight Black women and girls: Rekia Boyd, Latasha Harlins, Ma’Khia Bryant, “Hope,” “Harmony,” Marcie Gerald, Lyniah Bell, and Breonna Taylor, whose deaths or disappearances have galvanized A Long Walk Home’s Black girl leaders to be activists and artists. In many cases, injustice defines their afterlives while their stories remain untold, their legacies honored by only a few. Tillet and Narciso have expanded Black Girlhood Altar into three distinct gallery spaces – Ritual and Prayer, Rest and Recess: The Courtyard, and Call and Response – each introduced by a distinctly colored lightbox.

The North Gallery has been transformed into Ritual and Prayer, a room featuring the altar and a reflective space for loved ones’ families and visitors. The Middle Gallery, Rest and Recess: The Courtyard, is inspired by Tillet’s ongoing work on Black girl play and resistance and her work with A Long Walk Home to develop a permanent monument project at North Lawndale’s Douglass Park dedicated to Rekia Boyd. The South Gallery is Call and Response, a carefully curated space that features intergenerational photographs and video-based works on spirituality, grief, and remembrance that are in direct conversation with The Black Girlhood Altar.

Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar aims to bring awareness to the issue of missing and murdered women of color, promote community accountability, end gender-based violence, and increase visibility. The exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center creates a space for artists, families, and community activists to engage in a public conversation.


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The Black Girlhood Altar by A Long Walk Home. Photo: Tom Harris.

A Long Walk Home

Chicago, United States


A Long Walk Home is a Chicago-based national non-profit that cultivates the next generation of leaders committed to gender equity and racial justice.

Founded in 2003 by sisters Salamishah and Scheherazade Tillet, A Long Walk Home works with artists, students, activists, therapists, and community organizations and cultural institutions to elevate marginalized voices, facilitate healing, and activate social change.

Twenty years before #MeToo, A Long Walk Home emerged as a leading organization in the United States using black feminist justice approaches to combat gender violence and racism. A Long Walk Home has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Teen Vogue, and on MSNBC.

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