Like most many Americans, I acknowledged Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by reflecting on a part of the late civil rights leader’s well documented past. This year was a little different, mainly because my intense focus on Dr. King started toward the end of last year when I was asked to join the creative team for the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit located on Chicago’s West Side in the same historic location where Dr. King once lived. This exhibit, which opens to the public on January 26th, focuses on the time Dr. King spent in Chicago during the summer of 1966 when he and other local activists created the Chicago Freedom Movement (CFM) to spotlight the deplorable housing conditions in Chicago and across the country. The movement was one that was powerful enough to influence the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 also known as the Fair Housing Act.
The exhibit, housed on the first floor of 1558 S. Hamlin Avenue, is one that every Chicagoan (and US citizen) should visit to learn more about our city and the sacrifices of Dr. King and other local heroes that helped change the way people across the country live today. Those who visit the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit will be greeted by captivating photographs and video that lure you back to even more challenging times when African Americans were fighting for equal rights in nearly every facet of everyday life, including fair housing. By the time you leave expect to be more informed about the Great Migration, the early days of Lawdale, redlining, slum living, contract buying and the monumental Chicago Freedom Rally just to name a few things. If you’re lucky, you still may be able to pick up a copy of the accompanying keepsake book that I helped to create as a reminder of this very important part of history.
The MLK Fair Housing Exhibit is free and open to the public thanks to the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC), the organization responsible for turning a number of vacant lots on the West Side into the MLK Memorial District – a place worthy of Dr. King’s legacy. Other members of the creative team that helped make this exhibit possible are Vernon Lockhart, Keith Purvis, Darryl Parham (Art on the Loose) and Tracye Matthews.
I am very proud to have been a part of this project (Just in case you hadn’t noticed). Please stop by the exhibit and experience it for yourself.
Oh, wait! This has nothing to do with the exhibit, but in honor of the King holiday I also wanted to share this great piece on 29 facts you may not know about Dr. King. Enjoy.
Until next time…