MLK DAY 2017
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in the South had achieved passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned segregation in public places and employment; and the Voting Rights Act, which was signed in August 1965. But next, King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) leaders James Bevel and Andrew Young convinced supporters they had to take the movement North to show that racism and poverty were national issues.
The Chicago Freedom Movement (CFM) was the alliance between the SCLC and Chicago’s Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO). In January 1966, Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, moved into a slum apartment at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave. in the Lawndale neighborhood: four rooms for $94 a month compared to five clean rooms for $78 in the Southwest Side Gage Park neighborhood, where the CFM later held open housing marches.
An August 1966 summit between the CFM, Mayor Richard J. Daley, and real estate, business and religious leaders produced an agreement that the marches would stop and city leaders would promote fair housing. However, militant factions of the CFM denounced the settlement and promises by city leaders went unfulfilled.
StreetWise met the Civil Rights Movement veterans profiled on these pages on crmvet.org and interviewed them by phone and email.