BRONZEVILLE — Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Chicago’s favorite TikTok historian, is bringing back his popular tour of South Side neighborhoods this month.
Thomas’ Chicago Mahogany Tours kicks off its two-hour Bronzeville tour from the south lot of the DuSable Museum of African American History. Guests will visit the birthplace of Black History Month — the Wabash YMCA — the childhood homes of iconic Black Chicagoans and the birthplace of gospel music, Pilgrim Baptist Church.
Tours are $45 per person and start 2 p.m. on select Saturdays. There are some slots open for Feb. 12 and Feb. 26. You can book here. Masks are required.
Thomas also is offering tours later this year of Bridgeport and the Stockyards, and Pullman and Roseland. Those start in March and April. Find more information here.
Thomas said he hopes to offer tours every weekend, eventually expanding to the West Side, as well.
“We have a website now that offers tours on a readily available weekend schedule, and we’ll be mixing up the neighborhoods more frequently,” Thomas said.
The Auburn Gresham native ascended to celebrity status last year after his TikTok videos on Chicago history went viral, garnering thousands of views. Thomas recently inked a deal with Netflix to create a Chicago-based series that would recount a significant historical event. “Chicago Party Aunt” co-creator Chris Witaske has signed on to produce the project.
He hosted history tours last summer for Juneteenth, Father’s Day and Fourth of July weekend.
The tours have been a hit, particularly with North Siders who rarely travel south of Roosevelt because of preconceived notions about South Side, said Thomas, who admits to engaging in playful ribbing on the tour.
“We’ll be an hour into the tour and I’ll say, ‘No one’s got shot, and your car is still where you left it!” Thomas said. “And then I’ll point out the vacant land of the hood despite the buildout happening in Bronzeville, and that the people acquiring the land won’t be the people displaced from it.”
For Thomas, it isn’t about an agenda, or about being political. It’s about making sure the South and West Sides get as much love as their North Side cousin.
“Despite being an African American dude from Chicago, I’m still able to give a very objective Bronzeville tour,” Thomas said.
At some point the Eastern Illinois University alumnus hopes to partner with Chicago companies to offer free tours to the city’s youth.
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