On Friday, August 5, hundreds of people gathered at Marquette Road & Kedzie Avenue for the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial. That day, which was the 50th anniversary of the 1966 march that Dr. King and the Chicago Freedom Movement led through Chicago’s Marquette Park, not only recalled the legacy of past struggle for justice and equity but recognized the achievements and sacrifices of other local and national organizers.
Following a brief ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed a special commemorative ceremony in Marquette Park, in the very space where angry residents once violently clashed with Dr. King and the other marchers only 50 years earlier. Artists including Zeshan & The Transistors, K-Love, and Tammy McCann provided a powerful soundtrack for the momentous occasion, while Rev. Jesse Jackson, Saint Sabina’s Fr. Michael Pfleger, and Imam Omar Karim offered spiritual reflections.
The memorial itself depicts the events of August 5, 1966, the images of renowned faith and community leaders who have worked for justice in and around Chicago ever since–such as Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, Rabbi Robert Marx, and Reverend Willie Barrow–and reflections on what the “Beloved Community” could look like. The sculpture also challenges the notion of “home” for families denied the basic human right to live freely in thriving communities and includes thoughtful reflections from hundreds of community members on what home means to them, in the form of colorful ceramic tiles that adorn the bench around the memorial.
The MLK Living Memorial was made possible by a dedicated city-wide Planning Committee and a Local Task Force, convened monthly by IMAN. An extensive list of major supporters and foundations contributed to the construction of the project, and we thank them for their help in establishing a new cultural cornerstone for the Marquette Park area.
Several legacy projects, including the 1000 Mile Scholars Youth Fellowship Program and the Beloved Community Ceramics Studio, are being developed in order to further the legacy celebrated by the memorial. Visit www.mlkmemorialchicago.org today to learn more about the projects.