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Byline Bank is using a traveling art exhibit to educate Evanston about people and organizations who have contributed to the development of the local Black community.
“Legacies, Profiles on the North Shore” is on display at the bank’s Benson Avenue and Church Street location. Large graphic panels profile contemporary and historic Black individuals as well as organizations and institutions important in the development of the community here. The Shorefront Legacy Center in Evanston prepared and loaned out the exhibit.
“We’re proud to partner with Shorefront to help continue to raise awareness about the history and contributions of the Black community here in Evanston and across the North Shore,” said Tracy McGuire, North Shore market president for Byline Bank.
“At Byline, we’re committed to learning and doing better every day, and these panels give us an opportunity to do that for ourselves and to share this experience with our customers and local community,” said Scott Wilhelm, branch manager for Byline Bank’s Church Street branch in Evanston.
Although there are currently 17 panels on view, two new ones will be unveiled, possibly during a “light” reception, bringing the total to 19, said Dino Robinson, the designer of the panels.
Robinson, a production manager at Northwestern University Press, where he oversees the publishing of scholarly manuscripts, is the founder and director of the Shorefront at 2214 Ridge Ave. The Shorefront Legacy Center collects, preserves and educates people about Black history on Chicago’s suburban North Shore.
Founded in 1995, Shorefront began as a non-profit in 2002. Everyone who works there is a volunteer. Robinson is passionate about his work there. His 2,100-square-foot office, on the lower floor of the Sherman United Methodist Church, is jam-packed with orderly, boxed archives, with more coming in all the time.
Back in 1999, Shorefront produced a printed journal, but after 11 years, discontinued it in favor of an online edition, greatly expanding Shorefront’s reach. Robinson said sometimes his staff even receive comments about, and additions to, older, archived articles.
The initial inspiration for the Legacy panels, said Robinson, was a small graphic in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper with a circulation of more than 350,000 in the 1940s. There he saw a small portrait drawing, with text, about an interesting Black figure, and was impressed with the effectiveness of a “small bite” visual in making a historical figure real for readers.
The first Legacy poster was for the Chessmen Club of the North Shore, which is located in Evanston. Funding for the first six Legacy panels came from the City of Evanston, via the Evanston Arts Council.
More recently, multiple supporting grants have come from the Driehaus Foundation, the Frances Beidler Foundation, the Mammel Family Foundation, the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Shorefront’s endowment rests with the Evanston Community Foundation.
Locally, Shorefront has received funding from Community Development Block Grant and Cultural Arts Funds. Among many local organizations, individuals and businesses who support Shorefront is Quartet Copies, which produces the Legacy panels.