A 501(c)(3), ILEORO inspires art, spirituality, and black excellence as a cultural foundation to enhance personal development, deepen familial bonds, and support BIPOC towards creating a legacy that promotes world peace. Conceived in 2000 by two young practitioners of West-African culture, ILEORO now finds itself as a results-based organization to improve the mindset of "excellence" in communities of color on the South Side of Chicago. We are evolving into a growing nonprofit organization that brings together people of color to uplift the BIPOC community, promote our art and culture, and provide education on our cultural inheritances.
We are an organization run by volunteers. Our work primarily focuses on providing leadership in uplifting the greatness of our Africaness to overcome racial oppression, including inspiring BIPOC to accept their cultural legacy, heal from generational trauma, and seek support to realize the best potential accessible to them. ILEORO resides in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago and is where we deliver routine spiritual guidance, artist development, and cultural enrichment activities open to the public throughout the year.
ILEORO uses art, folklore, and spirituality to create immersive experiences that highlights especially our African culture. We foster skills for holistic healing, artistic behaviors for creative expression, and character development to achieve excellence. And we curate cultural enrichment activities and produce arts & culture projects that will allow BIPOC to explore themes of racial equity and provide pathways for us to attain our fullest potential and prosperity.
ILEORO envisions a future where BIPOC are innovative, sustainable, and equitable and seeks to maximize the ability to help us collectively achieve this vision. How can we do this when their mental distress affects the reclaiming and reconstruction of their ancestral heritage in the recovery process? How can art, culture, spirituality, mental wellness, a quality community life, and social connections move BIPOC towards this vision and change their attitudes and mindsets to have a more vibrant future? How can we do this when there is a disparity of accessible activities for BIPOC communities to participate in their immediate communities? We want to focus our efforts on persistent racial disparities to implement racially equitable programs, policies, and practices to benefit the South Side. We want to realize racial equity and remove barriers to the fair distribution of resources, opportunities, and outcomes for BIPOC.
Our mission was developed around Yorùbá values, especially seeing that the Yorùbá civilization is one of the most ancient, advanced, and urbanized in the world. Besides this, the Yorùbá, like many other African ethnic groups, has its culture rooted in their spiritual practices. Most of their events have spiritual undertones, interpreted with spiritual sentiments. Their spiritual practices are highly pragmatic to their daily lives, and their way of life directs them to support these spiritual practices. Attempting to remove spirituality from Yorùbá culture makes their life meaningless. For example, art and spirituality are inseparable in Yorùbá culture as the presence of spirituality in art validates their identity. Art is essentially a form of historical and iconographical record of their culture. The origin of this record starts with the Yorùbá’s relationship to ideology. Art, or what outsiders identify as art, was established to interact with the supernatural realm through these visible or tangible devices (such as linguistics, meaningful materials, performance play, folklore, rhythms and songs, culinary, fashion, aesthetics, and dramatic festivals). These activities would conclude more ritualized practices held privately amongst families or religious groups and is 90% of our work to date.