Dr. King Comes to Marquette Park (8-5-1966)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had brought the civil rights movement to the cities of the North.  In January he had rented an apartment on the West Side of Chicago.  Today he met a violent reaction in his adopted city.

King was leading a series of protest marches against housing segregation.  The city’s white realtors often refused to show homes in white neighborhoods to African-American buyers.  This was a particular problem in the Marquette Park area, the scene of today’s march.

The protesters planned to demonstrate at three realty offices along 63rd Street.  Opponents of open housing were determined to demonstrate against the demonstrators.  The police were deployed to keep the two groups separate and peaceful.

A few of the open housing demonstrators arrived on the scene early, and marched without serious incident.  The thousand or so opponents behind the police lines jeered and yelled insults, but did nothing more.  Then the main body of 700 demonstrators arrived in a motorcade.

King’s car pulled up at 63rd and Sacramento.  As he got out, a rock sailed through the air and hit him in the back of the neck.  He fell to one knee.  After a few seconds he got up, and prepared to lead his people.

“I have to do this–to expose myself–to bring this hate into the open,” he told them.  “I have seen many demonstrations in the South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today.”

The march began.  Now the crowd behind the police lines hurled rocks, bottles, firecrackers, chunks of concrete, and anything else within reach.  Someone threw a knife.  From time to time, the people on the sidewalk tried to push through to get at the marchers.  The cops held firm.

The day ended with 30 people injured, including King and 4 policemen.  Forty-one persons had been arrested, mostly whites who had tried to block off Kedzie Avenue.

Later in the year an agreement was reached between the demonstrators and the Chicago Real Estate Board.  The first, faltering steps were taken to ending segregated housing in the city.


0 Responses to “Dr. King Comes to Marquette Park (8-5-1966)”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: