Subversive Historian – 07/10/09

The Chicago Freedom Movement

Back in the day on July 10th, 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of the Chicago Freedom Movement. An estimated 60,000 people gathered at the big rally in Solider Park to hear the Civil Rights leader speak alongside musicians such as Mahalia Jackson and Stevie Wonder who were also present. As the most ambitious campaign for civil rights in the North, the movement brought together the Southern Christian Leadership of the South, with Chicago’s Coordinating Council of Community Organizations. Together they forged a vision to end slums in the city while promoting racial equality in the realms of housing, education and employment. After King concluded his speech at Soldier Field, he, like his namesake before him, posted demands on the doors of power. Addressed to real estate brokers, local politicians, and banks, among others, the list called for nondiscriminatory policies to be publicly stated.

After the Soldier Field rally, the movement organized open housing marches through all-white neighborhoods. During those tense moments, King, a veteran target of racism, described the moments as hateful and hostile on a scale he had never seen before…

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