Throughout the MLK Living Memorial development process—from the initial planning, to the ground breaking, and eventually 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 next 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.
Marquette 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 the state of their communities.
Perhaps even more powerful than the breadth of coverage the weekend received is the fact that this nationwide buzz grew organically out of a proactive series of community organizing efforts led by American Muslims and embraced by all. Like all aspects of its work, IMAN hopes that the MLK Living Memorial, the 1000 Mile March, and #Streets2016 festival will serve as models for holistic, collaborative, and positive change for other urban communities across the country.