Facebook group Black Women of Evanston connects and provides resources for local Black women


Photo courtesy of Black Women of Evanston

Black Women of Evanston members celebrated summer at Fountain Square dressed in their favorite outfits from actress Tabitha Brown’s clothing line.

Kaitlin Bender-Thomas, Reporter

When Annette Jeter Jean-Jacques moved to Evanston in 2011, she soon found it was a hassle to meet up with her friends who lived a half-hour away in Chicago. 

So, Jeter Jean-Jacques turned to Facebook to create a group that could connect Black women nearby.        

“I’m like, ‘Wow, it would be really nice to just meet other women here, locally, so that I can just go for coffee or grab lunch and just have a space where I can find other people that look like me, and we have things in common,’” Jeter Jean-Jacques said.

Since its founding in 2017, Jeter Jean-Jacques’ Facebook group Black Women of Evanston has created a sisterhood among more than 400 Black women and she said it has positively impacted the community.

Jeter Jean-Jacques said the group’s mission is to provide a safe space for Black women in Evanston and other surrounding areas while focusing on service, community and self-care. She organizes monthly events like dining out, volunteering, photo shoots, business pop-up shops, and workshops to bring the women together and create opportunities for networking and learning.

The group recently met at Fountain Square for a photo shoot, dressing in their favorite outfits from actress Tabitha Brown’s clothing line. After hearing members had gotten their hands on the clothing before it sold out at Target, Jeter Jean-Jacques said she had to put something together to allow the women to connect and enjoy each other’s company.

“It’s really to show Black women we’re here, we’re beautiful, we’re happy, we’re excited, we exist. We are here in a positive light,“ Jeter Jean-Jacques said. “That was the inspiration behind the photoshoot. It made everyone feel good.”

The group also received recognition from Brown, who reshared one of the photos on her Instagram story.

Andrea DeBerry (Communication ’14), a BWoE member, said she joined the group because when she moved to Evanston, she felt like an outsider in the tight-knit community. Because she didn’t attend Evanston Township High School, she said it was more challenging to forge friendships as an adult. 

“It’s not easy to make friends when you become a certain age because you make friends because you’ve been in the same classroom or been in the same school for the last 12 years together,” DeBerry said. “When you become an adult, all of that ends.”

Even at the height of the pandemic, Jeter Jean-Jacques said the group continued to thrive and uplift one another. She organized virtual self-help classes that allowed members from different backgrounds to offer their expertise. They led classes on physical fitness, goal setting and vision boards, financial literacy and more.

This fall, Jeter Jean-Jacques said she hopes to coordinate an in-person financial literacy workshop to empower the women and provide them with information on credit repair, home purchasing and side hustles.

Jeter Jean-Jacques said a significant amount of her time is dedicated to planning events, and although it incurs no financial cost, it is a “labor of love.” She said she is working on registering the group as a non-profit organization, and once it’s finalized, she hopes to find grant writers to help with funding.

Group member Jhmira Alexander said the ability to seek services and support from other Black women is invaluable. She said it could be hard for people who don’t look like her to understand her experiences, and when she receives guidance from another Black woman, she feels like it’s “one less layer” she has to explain. 

“I feel seen from my sister when I’m being advised, and I don’t feel like I’m being gaslit or my experience is being minimized,” Alexander said. 

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