After Dr. King spent the summer of 1966 in Chicago, he was forever impacted by what he called the most segregated city in America. Chicago natives are all too familiar with the city’s less than stellar record regarding race and the dynamics that come along with it. We tout ourselves as a city of neighborhoods, reveling in our overall makeup and diversity, yet we have often remained separated by those same ethnic and neighborhood boundaries, choosing instead to sample one another’s culture without truly embracing the people responsible for it.
Or so it seems.
Every MLK holiday acts as a staunch reminder that Chicagoans appreciate one another’s diversity and contributions to the city, while also recognizing that we stand united in a fight for equity and fairness in a city that seems increasingly lacking. This year, members of the Young and Powerful joined Black Wall Street to hear from community and corporate leaders Cynthia Boykin and Deanna Burrell, while thousands of ethnically diverse Chicagoans convened at Liberty Baptist Church for a political forum, where they presented a community agenda to all of the candidates running for the office of mayor. While Bob Fioretti and William ‘Dock’ Walls were in attendance, Willie Wilson sent a proxy, and Rahm Emmanuel was notably absent.
Still, the energy of the day’s events carried with it a strong message: We live in precarious times. It will take the good will, good information, and good actions of good people to address the issues that we have in our city. Luckily for us, there are more than a good number of people following in Dr. King’s footsteps, doing their best to be drum majors for justice.