IMAN Leads Unprecedented 1000 Mile March

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.41.28 PMOn the morning of August 6, amid chants of “We gon’ be alright,” over 1,400 people marched down Kedzie Avenue into Marquette Park, channeling the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Chicago Freedom Movement. Fifty years prior, Dr. King and hundreds of other demonstrators walked the same route in protest of discriminatory housing practices. Since that pivotal 1966 day, Chicago organizers and activists have remained driven and inspired as they continue the journey towards a more just and equitable community.

To honor this legacy, IMAN spent months mobilizing individuals and organizations across the city and across the country around the MLK Living Memorial Project. The organizing effort culminated in the ‘1000 Mile March’, an unparalleled display of unity, peace and cooperation. The march nearly doubled the King-led effort in attendance. Youth drummers from Korean American Resource and Culture Center provided a rhythm for each step of the way, while leaders such as Father Michael Pfleger, US Rep. Robin Kelly and “legacy marchers” who’d also walked with Dr. King delivered words of inspiration.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.42.00 PMDomestic and international calls for justice echoed through the streets, linked the commonalities across different struggles. Chants rang out in English and Spanish, and residents carried signs demanding a “Free Palestine” and immigration reform.

Marchers entered Marquette Park and concluded the action by gathering for a powerful rally. Generations of freedom fighters, from Rev. Jesse Jackson to the youth leaders of Black Lives Matter and Assata’s Daughters spoke truth to power. Organizers from across the country, like New York’s Linda Sarsour, shared the stage with piercing artistic talent like Chicago youth mentor and poet K-Love.

In our time, the challenges of unfair housing policies, unjust violence and poverty persist. The 1000 Mile March gave activists and residents alike the opportunity to pause, reflect, and honor their collective struggle. A truly historic moment for the Marquette Park community, the march shined a light on what united communities can accomplish in the face of bigotry and discrimination. IMAN was able to demonstrate power by mobilizing local families, neighborhood institutions, and major foundations from across the city to take this critical first step toward much-needed healing and toward the world as we know it could be.

MLK Living Memorial Unveiled in Marquette Park

MLK (27)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 Dr. King and the Chicago Freedom Movement’s historic 1966 march through Chicago’s Marquette Park, not only recalled the legacy of past struggle for justice and equity but recognized the achievements of other local and national organizers.

***List the 8 who were recognized at Friday ribbon cutting.

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 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.

MLK (3)The MLK Living Memorial was made possible by a dedicated Planning Committee and a Local Task Force, each led 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 Studio, are being developed in order to amplify the effect of the Memorial. Visit www.mlkmemorialchicago.org today to learn more about the project.

#Streets2016 Generates Unprecedented Media Coverage

The success of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial and #Streets2016 garnered extraordinary media coverage across the city. This nationwide buzz grew organically out of proactive organizing efforts led by American Muslims.Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.16.59 AM

Throughout the MLK Living Memorial development process—from the drawing board to the ground breaking to the ribbon cutting—TV cameras and newspaper reporters captured the project’s growth into a new cornerstone of the Marquette Park community. On August 5 alone, nearly one million Chicagoland viewers tuned into coverage of the Memorial’s unveiling and the following commemorative ceremony.

The following day, #Streets2016 kicked off with the symbolic 1,000 Mile March. Each of Chicago’s local TV news networks featured segments on the day’s events, with detailed feature stories on the web and in print. Via this comprehensive media coverage, over a half million people witnessed the events of this historic day. Social media yielded even greater engagement. The memorial, march and festival were all featured on Snapchat’s “Chicago” story that weekend, and the #Streets2016 hashtag trended on Twitter for several hours. In all, these IMAN-led efforts made over 6 million impressions across all social media platforms.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.42.00 PMMarquette Park’s narrative legacy has endured the stains of decades-long segregation and racial discrimination. However, through these powerful efforts of a community united on the journey to justice, the story of Marquette Park is forever changed. The world as it could be was on full display during the August 5 weekend, as individuals, families and organizations celebrated their achievements, connected various campaigns and radically reimagined community cohesion.

Thank you for your continued support, and please remember IMAN’s efforts in your thoughts and prayers.

Imam W.D Mohammed and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project is currently under construction inside Chicago’s historic Marquette Park. This memorial commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement that included a daring march led by Dr. King and nearly 700 other activists, organizers and community residents through the park to challenge the city and country to end oppression and bigotry and live up to higher ideals.

wdmohammmad_1 (1)On August 6, 2016, thousands of people will gather to recall the powerful legacy of that march, and to take lessons from it as they confront today’s urgent struggles for justice, equity and dignity.
I’m excited about the MLK Living Memorial’s potential to raise public consciousness about Dr. King’s lesser-known work in alliance with poor and working people, and my enthusiasm is just as great for the recognition of the work of other fearless, devoted human rights leaders. One of those leaders is my teacher, America’s Imam, the Muslim-American Spokesman for Human Salvation, Imam Warithuddeen Mohammed.

The Imam’s words, image and leadership will be memorialized alongside Dr. King and several other icons.
Folks may ask about the connection between an imam and a reverend, a Muslim and a Christian, Dr. King and Imam W.D Mohammed. Our imam addressed this during his final “Ramadan Session”, with Dr. King’s message and memory clearly weighing heavily on his heart and mind. He said “Dr Martin Luther King, a great speaker, great man, a man driven by a human spirit, the same human spirit that was in Muhammad the Prophet (SAW). It is one human spirit for all of us and it wants excellence. Someone may think he’s the son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and he’s calling Dr. King our leader? Yes, I am. Wake up! Our leader Dr. Martin Luther King a great, powerful man of moral determination and moral spirit to do away with injustice to people. Dr. King was a man of excellent character and a man with a spirit for justice who came from his human sense of value and nobility. We don’t have those leaders popular anymore!” (Oct 7, 2007 Ramadan Session)

As a student and indebted admirer of Imam W.D. Mohammed, I am proud to see his name and works being acknowledged alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Imam W.D Mohammed died in 2008, however for his hundreds of thousands of students, he continues to live in us. Thus, this memorial is a great honor and tribute to the community of Imam W.D. Mohammed.

The MLK Living Memorial project is led by The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Imam W.D Mohammed praised and celebrated this organization for its social justice work, primarily in inner-city Chicago and now also in Atlanta. This memorial will be at the epicenter of one of the largest, most inclusive outdoor festivals in the country: Takin’ It to the Streets. This urban international festival attracts over 20,000 people with its inspiring workshops, performances and calls for community action.

“There are two things I will never give up”, Imam W.D Mohammed said “ Al-Islam and my African-American identity”. For generations to come, Muslims, Christians and all people of faith will benefit from the legacy of Dr. King, Imam Mohammed and others who worked tirelessly for the establishment of freedom, justice and equality for all people. Let us show our support by coming out in the thousands to witness for ourselves the power of faith, joining together in goodness and forbidding what is evil and putting our trust in G’d. Join us Saturday, August 6th at Chicago’s Marquette Park for a day we will never forget. . Visit www.streets2016.com