1966 Marquette Park March and Chicago's Martin Luther King Jr. Living Memorial
This monument was dedicated in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1966 protest against residential segregation in Chicago. Following the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, King turned his attention to the pervasiveness of residential segregation in cities throughout the nation, including northern cities such as Chicago. At this location on August 5, 1966, King and seven hundred of his supporters marched past thousands who opposed integration. Many of these white residents jeered the civil rights activists while dozens threw bricks, stones, and bottles. The monument is located near the exact place where King was injured by a brick or a stone and had to be helped back to his feet by supporters who continued the march despite the violence and attempted intimidation. The Chicago civil rights activists completed their march to the offices of a realtor where they called for an end of the practice of refusing to sell homes in "white neighborhoods" to African American families.
Backstory and Context
In 1959, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights declared Chicago the most residential segregated major city in the United States. For this reason, King and other national civil rights leaders decided to make Chicago the center of their campaign to challenge residential segregation. An estimated thirty thousand Chicago-area residents attended a rally at Soldier Field on July 10th. King addressed the crowd and spoke forcibly about the consequences of discriminatory housing that prevented African Americans from home ownership and forced black families to rent substandard apartments at above-market prices. "We are tired of having to pay a median rent of $97 a month in Lawndale for four rooms while whites in South Deering pay $73 a month for five rooms…" King explained. "We are tired of being lynched physically in Mississippi, and we are tired of being lynched spiritually and economically in the North.” King and his supporters marched to Chicago's city hall, and mirroring the protest of Protestant namesake, Martin Luther King Jr. taped a list of demands to the door.
Three weeks later, King returned to Chicago for another protest march. This time, seven hundred white supremacists descended upon King and his supporters at Marquette Park. King was hit by a rock or a brick and fell to the ground before being aided back to his feet by supporters. King later told reporters that the hostile mob that he encountered at this location was as mean-spirited as any he encountered in the South. Thanks to the perseverance of civil rights demonstrators who launched similar campaigns throughout Northern cities and Border South cities such as Baltimore, Louisville, and St. Louis, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in the spring of 1968. President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Act into law a week after King was assassinated.
"The History". MLK Living Memorial. Accessed January 15, 2018. http://www.mlkmemorialchicago.org/mlk-in-chicago/.