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Shedd Aquarium

Shermann "Dilla" Thomas is one of the most prominent and dopest modern public historians, with hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of views on social media. He’s also the owner of Chicago Mahogany, LLC, a historical tour company that highlights the impact Chicago, its people, and its culture has had on the world. Together, we're partnering to tell stories of Illinois' proud African-American history.

Stories from Alton

Home of Historical Giants

Alton is a small, but mighty, town on the Mississippi River whose people have had a huge impact on our nation's history. Join Dilla as he explores some of the landmarks associated with some of these awesome Alton residents, including abolitionists, musical icons, and even the world's tallest man.

Stories from Alton - Part 1

Sherman "Dilla" Thomas rubs the brass bust of Abraham Lincoln at his tomb in Springfield
Dilla in front of a painting at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Dilla in front of a wall of historic imagery

Jacksonville & Springfield

History Past and Present

Our state capital, Springfield, and nearby Jacksonville, have both played a central role in our nation’s progression to equality. Follow Dilla as he tours through some of the most important sites along the Underground Railroad, presidential and civil rights history, and Black art & culture.

Dilla & Preston Jackson

Preston Jackson is an Illinois-based artist, sculptor, teacher and gallery owner. Best known for his sculptures, Jackson’s work is featured throughout the entire state of Illinois including several prominent works in Chicago. Some of his best-known works are the Miles Davis statue in Alton, the bronze doors at Cahokia Mounds and Acts of Intolerance sculpture in Springfield. In addition, Preston Jackson founded and owns the Raven Gallery, home of the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, Illinois and is professor emeritus at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago Mahogany Tours

Travel. Discover. Learn.

Looking to learn more Illinois history? Join one of Chicago Mahogany's tours in Chicago. Guided by Dilla himself, these two-hour bus tours take travelers around some of Chicago's most notable neighborhoods uncovering their interesting history.

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