The Chicago Freedom Movement - a first hand account
Jan 12, 2018 12:10 PM
John Hudson
The Chicago Freedom Movement - a first hand account

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. moved with his family to Chicago, where he was to spend a year laying the groundwork for bringing the civil rights movement to the North. The campaign came to be known as the Chicago Freedom Movement — a broadening drive against segregation, which was often as thorough in practice in the northern states as in the South, especially when it came to housing

On July 10, nearly 30,000 people gathered at Soldier Field to hear King’s speech, on what came to be known as Freedom Sunday:

"This day we must declare our own Emancipation Proclamation. This day we must commit ourselves to make any sacrifice necessary to change Chicago. This day we must decide to fill up the jails of Chicago, if necessary, in order to end slums.

"This day we must decide to register every negro in Chicago of voting age before the municipal election. This day we must decide that our votes will determine who will be the mayor of Chicago next year.

"This day, henceforth and forever more, we must make it clear that we will purge Chicago of every politician, whether he be negro or white, who feels that he owns the negro vote rather than earns the negro vote."

A 1982 article about the rally and march notes a heat wave hit the city just in time for King's event, as well as how well the march was received by Daley.

"By the time of the rally, the temperature stood at 98 degrees, and more than a half-million Chicagoans swamped the beaches of Lake Michigan. Only about 30,000 people -- movement leaders had hoped for 100,000 -- gathered in Soldier Field to hear King give the keynote address of the campaign.”