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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

Dilla The Urban Historian Is Taking His Chicago History Lessons On Tour This Summer

Shermann Thomas, best known as the Chicago Urban Historian, will host South Side tours this summer for Father's Day and Fourth of July weekend.

Shermann Thomas, known for his Chicago history posts via his Tik Tok account @6figga_dilla, spends time in his Auburn Gresham home with his family on May 11.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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AUBURN GRESHAM — The Chicago Urban Historian is bringing his history lessons from the small screen to the city’s streets in a series of South Side tours.

Shermann Thomas, best known as Dilla on TikTok, is hosting city tours on Father’s Day on June 20 and over the Fourth of July weekend. Tours will begin at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place.

Tickets are available for $45 on Thomas’ Eventbrite page. His Juneteenth tours have already sold out. 

Thomas said his Father’s Day tours will focus on the impact of Black people in the city and the nation beginning in the 19th century. 

“A lot of people famously know du Sable as the first non-Native settler here, but after that, you don’t hear about another Black guy until Harold Washington,” Thomas said. “In between that, a lot was going on. We’re going to examine prominent African Americans in history from about the 1850s to the Chicago Fire, which is when the hurting started and the Black Belt was soon created.”

Thomas will bring back his tours for the Fourth of July weekend to discuss how Chicagoans shaped the nation.

“The Father’s Day tours will be solely about the impact and contributions of African Americans, but the Fourth of July tours will just be Chicagoans in general across all races,” Thomas said. “We weren’t around for the Revolutionary War — Chicago wasn’t founded yet — but we were very involved in the Civil War. We’ll discuss how each neighborhood signed up for different wars to continue the country.” 

Thomas said this is just the start of his South Side reign.

In July, he plans to offer a tour covering the history of the Chicago Race Riots, and in August, he’s hosting a Welcome to the South Side tour that will stretch as far as Canaryville.  

“My favorite statement is that Chicago is more than what’s north of Cermak,” Thomas said. “The city as a whole has contributed to the fabric of our nation, but we shouldn’t forget about the contributions of the South Side.” 

The goal is to meld joy and history for an enjoyable and unforgettable summer, Thomas said.

“It’s very evident that we’re thirsty for something positive to be in front of us to counterbalance all of the negative stuff that’s going on,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of the positive.”

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