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OUR HISTORIAN

Voted Chicago Reader Magazine's 2021 Best Chicago Tiktok account and Best Chicago Twitter account, Shermann “Dilla” Thomas is public historian who is changing the game. Dilla, as he is affectionately called, is a fascinating blend of modern historian, cultural worker, and public employee. A life-long resident of Chicago’s south side Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, Dilla attended Calumet high but graduated from Olive-Harvey Middle College, an alternative high school located in a branch of the city colleges. He went on to study English and African American studies at Eastern Illinois University, where he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. An employee of Chicago area power utility ComEd since 2011, Dilla began making Tik-Tok videos in an effort to bond with one of his 7 children. What started as a way to engage with his children, has lead to Dilla becoming an award winning historian and social media influencer for the city of Chicago and beyond. Public Narrative has named Dilla the 2022 Studs Terkel Uplifting Voice recipient and Choose Chicago has named him 2022 Tourism Ambassador of the Year. The Chicago Public Library has awarded Dilla the 21st Century Award for his recent achievements in promoting Chicago to the world. Dilla has been independently studying the history of Chicago for over 20 years, and his candid and truthful reflection of that history can be felt in his videos and presentations. Dilla’s followers now have reached 95,000 on the platform, and he has tens of thousands on Twitter and Instagram. His name on social media, @6figga_dilla, comes from his love of the employment trades, as he believes that you can reach monetary success (or six figures) there just as quickly as if you became a doctor or a lawyer. Dilla is a name given to him by his mother. Although Dilla’s focus is aimed squarely at underexposed aspects of all of Chicago, while expressing it from a Black perspective at times. His work continually reveals the rich tapestry of Chicago's overall history. Anchored in the background as son of a policemen, Dilla's philosophy is "Everything Dope about America comes from Chicago, the greatest city on earth."

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Photo credit: Manuel Martinez/WBEZ