God's Gang


The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity Festival program is produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in partnership with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

God’s Gang and Bronzeville Historical Society is collaborating to provide the 2014 Chicago area field research for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, for “The Will to Adorn” project, which explores the significance of adornment and the dress arts in the African-American community. 

God’s Gang members Izekil, Malik and Michelle are three youth historians that have taken leadership to record stories of individuals, artists, artisans, and style exemplars attending various area events. 

The arts of dress and adornment are more than simply reflections of personal taste and sense of style. They constitute the visual vocabularies of community and individual self-naming, revealing people’s ethnic and cultural identifications, commitments to a faith or cause, social relationships, as well as shared standards of beauty and appropriateness. The sheer variety of African American dress, adornment, and body art traditions speaks volumes about the diversity of the communities of African descendents in the United States.


Will to Adorn celebrates individual expression and creativity, but it focuses on the details of social dressing and the conventions that define what it means to be well dressed or appropriately attired in different communities.


Will to Adorn is documenting the experiences of “artisans of style,” people such as milliners, hairdressers, and tailors, who use their creativity and specialized skills to meet the distinct tastes and cultural aesthetics of their clients. It is also identifying and interviewing “exemplars of style,” who capture the essence of their community’s shared ideals regarding hair, apparel, accessories, and body art. And finally, it is recording the language and discourses related to dress and adornment in African American communities.


Follow this multi- year program on


God's Gang Will To Adorn Channel on YouTube




God's Gang, Chicago activities



God's Gang Will To Adorn on Facebook



Will To Adorn Blog



The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage web site:



The Smithsonian Center Will To Adorn Overview on YouTube