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For Freedom and Justice

Four men stand at a podium, Martin Luther King Jr. is second from left.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

Today, we honor and recognize the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

More than sixty years ago, Dr. King was at the forefront of the US civil rights movement. Along with countless heroic men and women, King set out to change a nation by practicing nonviolent strategies that sadly were often met with violence from those who fueled white supremacy and racial segregation. Through marches, peaceful protest, and civil disobedience, African Americans demanded justice and racial equality. We remember Dr. King for his role in leading this movement, as well as his deeds and speeches. However, we also need to remember the difficulties and challenges that he and other African Americans faced not only in the Jim Crow South, but also in cities in the North.

In January 1966, Dr. King moved to Chicago—a calculated strategy designed to raise awareness and challenge housing discrimination in urban areas or, as King put it, to “eradicate a vicious system which seeks to further colonize thousands of negroes within a slum environment.” This would be one of the first attempts of a southern civil rights group employing its philosophy of nonviolent tactics in a northern city. As part of the Chicago Freedom Movement, Dr. King addressed a crowd at Soldier Field on July 10, 1966. Following his speech, he led a group of 5,000 supporters to City Hall where, like his namesake, he posted a list on the front doors, demanding for equality.

Forty-five years ago, Dr. King fought to change how Black people and other marginalized groups were treated in the US. While certain progress has been made, we still find ourselves fighting some of the same systemic racism and white supremacy that continue to prevent Black and Brown people from freely living and thriving in the twenty-first century. Today, we remember not only the man, but also what he was working for―a nation to rise up and live out its creed that all people are created equal.

Join us today for our family-friendly virtual event MLK Day: King in Chicago to explore how the Museum continues to preserve and amplify Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of action and activism. The FREE activities and performances include a virtual tour of the places Dr. King frequented in Chicago, virtual storytelling, and hands-on history art workshops.

Image: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (second from left) speaks at a demonstration, Chicago, July 26, 1965. ST-10104095-0028, Chicago Sun-Times Collection, CHM.

Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Armed with his microphone and recorder, Studs Terkel was a passionate chronicler of the Civil Rights Movement and produced major documentaries on various aspects of struggles for a more just society. His award-winning program This Train, for example, is a remarkable audio portrait of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Terkel’s sequence of in-the-field audio reports during the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 are remarkably raw accounts of those involved in the march and those who opposed it. The archive also features interviews with leaders from African American, Latinx, Indigenous, and other civil rights struggles such as Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Roger Buffalohead, Stokely Carmichael, César Chávez, Dick Gregory, Dolores Huerta, and more.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories