Evanston Honors Dr. Martin Luther King January 16 through the 25th. Dr. King spoke in Evanston IL at the Beth Emet Synagogue in 1958. I want to quote a beautiful article from the Tablet that was published January 14, 2015.
“In 1958, a year before I was born, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, the Reform congregation in Evanston, IL., where I am now a member. He was invited by Beth Emet’s then-rabbi, David Polish, to kick off a series of events featuring “distinguished personalities in the religious, educational, and entertainment world.” King spoke about the state of civil rights at the time, calling for social action and change. Tickets were $1.75.
Just a few years later, in 1963, the year that King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, my parents moved from Philadelphia to Winnetka, Ill., a village five miles north of Beth Emet. That year, a rally to protest plans for the building of a whites-only residence was taking place in nearby Deerfield. My father, a Jewish businessman who was not then affiliated with Beth Emet or any synagogue, had been moved by King’s mission to end racial discrimination and segregation. Social action was my father’s religion. He attended that rally, and for reasons likely related to giving my mother a break on a Saturday morning (she had just given birth to my baby brother), he brought me along. I was 4 years old.
The rally was held by members of the Congress of Racial Equality. According to the Deerfield Review, 50 members had marched from Morton Grove to Deerfield to Pear Tree Park, where 150 people gathered to protest the village of Deerfield, which was trying to block construction of integrated housing in the park. Clergy from the nearby Congregational Church and St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church spoke, as well as the reverend from Pilgrim Congregational Church in North Carolina. It was a mixed-race, mixed-faith affair.
I remember wondering why my father had taken me to a park, as he often did, but we weren’t near the swings or slide. Instead, my father reached for my hand and all the people there formed a circle. I looked up at him and his eyes were fixed on the crowd. A brown-skinned man took my other hand and I looked up at my father again for translation. Silence was his approval. My little-girl fingers warmed in two strong men’s hands. Then the circle began to sway and voices began to sing:
We shall overcome.
We shall overcome.
We shall overcome
Here is a news release from the City Of Evanston:
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – Evanston community members, residents and visitors are encouraged to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout the city beginning Saturday, January 16 through Monday, January 25.
To kick off the celebration on January 16, the City of Evanston invites everyone to attend the “Day of Celebration Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” beginning at noon at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, located at 1655 Foster St. This event will pay tribute to Dr. King through music, dance and excerpts from his speeches.
The day promises to be inspiring and entertaining, with many special guest artists and esteemed speakers. This event is presented by Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. Admission is free and open to the public.
Other events taking place during the month include the Evanston Public Library’s “11 Months” Wrap Up Celebration, a candlelight vigil at Northwestern University, Y.O.U’s 10th annual “Diverse Communities United” event, and much more.
For details about MLK Day events happening throughout Evanston, visit cityofevanston.org/mlk or call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents may simply dial 3-1-1 in Evanston.