The Black Joy Project wordmark on a mustard colored background

The Black Joy Project

The Black Joy Project aims to make an unprecedented celebration of Black JOY visible in our communities and museum spaces. The project celebrates the beauty, joy, and resilience of Black women and girls and their lived experiences during COVID-19 and the social unrest after the brutal deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. During 2024, public events will carry the project’s themes into performances, workshops, talks, and other programs with an exciting variety of artists and experts. The project will grow and build joy throughout the year.

Throughout the run of the project, the community can expect events that underscore resilience and healing through food, performance, crafting, music, and much more. Conversations around self-care and cooking lead into wellness activities and programs encouraging participants to add to the project’s museum display. Programs include a Black business expo (February) to connect local Black business owners with the community and to discuss ideas around growing Black wealth; a multi-day workshop (June) for community members to create their own Book of Life, inspired by PBS’s hit TV show Finding Your Roots; and a back to school evening (August) for students to learn about and receive materials to incorporate the Samaritan’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness (external link).

Curated by Dr. Ruby Mendenhall and Florence Adibu.

Supported by:

  • Dr. Allan C. and Marlene S. Campbell Endowment Fund
  • Richard J. and Barbara S. Faletti Gallery of African Cultures Fund
  • Donald W. and Dorothy Berkey White Endowment Fund
  • Norman E. Whitten Spurlock Graduate Assistant Fund
  • Spurlock Museum Educational Endowment Fund
  • Spurlock Museum Guild Museum Fund
  • Girls Like Me Inc.
  • Carle Illinois College of Medicine
  • President’s Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and Humanities
  • National Science Foundation
  • Illinois Arts Council Agency

Illinois Arts Council wordmark in black and green

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


For further information on this event, contact the Museum Information Desk at or (217) 333-2360

All participants are welcome. To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact Brian Cudiamat at or (217) 244-5586.