Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago and Perri Irmer, President of the DuSable Museum of African American History, were interviewed by Cliff Kelley on WVON 1690 on January 15, 2018 to discuss the possibility of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thematic Chicago Landmark District to honor and celebrate his enduring legacy.
Preservation Chicago played an important role in the Chicago Landmark Designation of Stone Temple Baptist Church at 3622 W. Douglas Blvd where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on many occasions. However, there are many other unprotected and unrecognized places in Chicago that help to tell the history of Dr. King and his efforts in Chicago to advance the cause of Civil Rights, the Chicago Freedom Movement, and his efforts to end overt housing discrimination in Chicago during the 1960’s.
“It was bitterly cold on January 26, 1966, the day Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta, moved into a $90-a-month railroad flat on the top floor of a rundown building on the corner of Hamlin Avenue and 16th Street. The North Lawndale tenement, which stood two blocks from a pool hall that served as headquarters for the Vice Lords street gang, had no lock on its front door and a packed-dirt floor in the foyer.” (Bernstein, Chicago Magazine, 7/25/16)
The City of Chicago must to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago by creating a thematic Chicago Landmark District to recognize, protect and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.
Additionally, the preacher’s podium at Stone Temple Baptist Church from which Dr. King preached (and is seen in the circa 1966 photograph above) still exists and Preservation Chicago is advocating for it to be on display in Chicago as part of the permanent collection of the DuSable Museum of African American History, and perhaps eventually in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History.