Community leaders around Chicago are working on a living memorial to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1966 march in Marquette Park.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, artists from the Chicago Public Art group put together drawings and clay models to show what the finished sculpture may look like.
The memorial is scheduled to be unveiled on Aug. 5, the 50th anniversary of the Marquette Park march.
“We are hoping this becomes our Chicago Selma moment, that not only lifts up the struggles of the past, but more importantly points toward hope for the future,” said Rami Nashashibi with the Innter-City Muslim Action Network.
The goal is to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive by uniting different races and communities on issues like housing and criminal justice reform, the artists said.
“It’s important to let future generations know that their efforts should not go in vein,” said youth organizer Katie Marciniak.
Most of Dr. King’s integration efforts focused on the Deep South, but in 1966, King focused his energies on Chicago, known then as one of the most segregated cities in the country.
Dr. King's issue in Chicago was housing rights, and he led Chicago Freedom Movement marches through the all-white neighborhoods of Gage Park and Marquette Park, where he was greeted by Confederate-flag waving whites chanting, "Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate!"
King was felled by a rock to the head from one of the protestors, and famously said afterward, "I think the people from Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate."