Tap dance to rap will be on display next week for Northbrook's annual Black History Month celebration.
Called "Journeys: Path taken to Chicago and the North Suburbs," will include seven speakers and performers and a question-and-answer session. The event, sponsored by the Community Relations Commission, is Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the North Suburban YMCA and is free.
Former Chicago Bulls cheerleader Diamond Jack, tap dancer Reggio McLaughlin, local rapper Victor Harland, and others will tell their stories in what organizers hope is a more contemporary take on Black History Month than in previous years, said Rochelle Singer, chairwoman.
"We try to shake it up a little bit," said Singer, a member of the commission, adding that Northbrook has hosted an event in honor of Black History Month for more than 10 years. "The idea was to talk to people today and find out how they got to where they are now."
For the first time, the event will offer a light dinner to attendees before presentations start.
Past celebrations featured a panel discussion, a play, book reviews and lectures.
"It's not just for the black community," said Ron Mantegna, another organizer. "The North Shore is primarily white, but it's important for people to share their experiences and discuss them."
Chicago-born Reggio "The Hoofer" McLaughlin, a tap dancer, said he will tell how he fell in love with tap dancers more than 25 years ago and has traveled around the world to perform.
"When I first saw the performance of tap dance, I was just fascinated," he said. "It was love at first sight."
McLaughlin said he started out dancing in Chicago's streets and subway stations. He now instructs in Northbrook and other places in addition to performing.
"No matter what your difficult circumstances are, you still can work your way out of there," McLaughlin said.