Beach Commemorated for 1960s Civil Rights Wade-In

A plaque will be placed on Rainbow Beach, where a wade-in was held in 1960 to protest the white-only beach

Fifty years ago, Rainbow Beach on the city's south side was the site of a major moment in Chicago's civil rights history. On Aug. 20, a plaque will honor the people who made it happen.

Community residents and members of the Rainbow Beach Wade-In Coalition will gather Aug. 20 at the beach, located at 3111 E. 77th St., where in 1960 a wade-in was held to protest the segregated beach.

"We plan to celebrate our city’s progress in race relations," said Rainbow Beach Wade-In Coalition organizer Debra Greenleaf, "and honor a group of brave Chicagoans who 50 years ago confronted racism and violence when they staged a beach ‘wade-in’ to protest racial exclusion in our city.”

Members of the coalition, as well as the A. Philip Randolph Institute, NAACP, Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago Teachers Union, will help dedicate the plaque.

Norman and Velma Hill, two attendees of the protest, also will be at the ceremony. Both were seriously injured by a mob during the wade-in.

"Our wade-in protests helped promote non-violent action as an effective tactic of struggle," Velma Hill said, "and inspired Chicagoans to dedicate themselves to working towards a just and fair city, whether in the schools, across the neighborhoods, at the workplace – or in seeking to enjoy public parks and beaches."

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