Clio Logo

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.


  • This monument was made possible by a coalition of  forty Chicago organizations led by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network
  • This January 7, 1966 SCLC Newsletter announces the start of the Chicago Freedom Movement which was known at the time as a campaign to end slums.
  • July 10, 1966 rally at Soldier Field. After the rally, thousands of attendees joined King as they marched to City Hall.
  • Echoing the 16th century protest of Martin Luther, King pins his demands to the door of City Hall.

King spoke about residential segregation and other issues facing Northern communities throughout the 1960s, including an address at Chicago's Quinn Chapel A.M.E. on July 25th 1965. The following day, King joined Chicago leaders in a march to City Hall. In September 1965, King joined local leaders in the Chicago Freedom Movement, a campaign that was aimed at focusing the nation's attention on the issue of residential segregation and its consequences in one of America's leading cities. King moved to the city in January of 1966 to better facilitate the collaboration between national organizations such as his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with the leaders of numerous Chicago organizations and churches. In addition to King, SCLC worked with Chicago and national leaders with other national civil rights leaders such as James Bevel. While national leaders and organizations such as King, Bevel, and the SCLC brought media attention, most of the organizational work was made possible by Chicago churches, local educators, and leaders of Chicago’s Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO).

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. 

Finley, Mary Lou, LaFayette, Bernard et al, eds.. The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North. Lexington. University Press of Kentucky, 2016.

"The History". MLK Living Memorial. Accessed January 15, 2018. http://www.mlkmemorialchicago.org/mlk-in-chicago/.