North suburban residents gathered together on the Winnetka Village Green on Sunday afternoon, July 26, 2015, to honor a fifty-year history of courageous North Shore activism for housing, economic and social justice and to inspire people and community groups to join The Justice Project: The March Continues, a regional campaign for the Welcoming Community launched by Open Communities with 80 partners.
Keynote speaker Hilary Shelton of the NAACP pointed out that we still have a long way to go when it comes to realizing the promise of equal housing opportunity and inclusive, diverse suburbs. Fr. Michael Pfleger electrified the crowed in imploring city and suburban residents to come together to stop gun violence and the ostracism of poor people of color once and for all. Tuyet Le, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, movingly spoke of her own arrival into the United States as a Vietnamese refugee and woman with disabilities, noting how doors literally opened for her with the Americans with Disabilities Act, whose 25th anniversary the event also commemorated.
In 2015, there’s more to bringing about just and inclusive suburbs than fair and affordable housing. Justice Day marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s climactic speech before 10,000 people on that same Winnetka Green as part of the North Shore Summer Project, from which Open Communities is descended.
The Justice Project is galvanizing a new generation around a multi-year campaign to advance Principles of a Welcoming Community, a framework by which municipalities can evaluate themselves in order to become more accessible, safe and engaged; and by which residents can hold their elected and appointed representatives accountable.
Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison, Wisconsin was a college intern for the North Shore Summer Project in the 1960s. He challenged us to continue to make strides for justice and equality.
"Those of us who were raised in the shadow of World War II actually believed that there could be fair, peaceful and equitable nations… While we see great strides made in terms of marriage for all people, these injustices continue whether we are talking about race, national origin or the tens of millions of people… unable to go to college because perhaps they arrived in this country when they were six months old, the children of caring parents who wanted a better life."
Over 50 religious leaders joined together in endorsing a Joint Statement in honor of Justice Day, which was read from the podium by Lorelei McClure, Rabbi Bruce Elder, Rev. Richard Mosley, Jr., and Rev. Jan Smith.
We invite you to join Open Communities in advancing this 21st century civil rights movement. Join the Justice Project Team in your community. Enlist your congregation or community organization as a Project Partner.
We thank the Village of Skokie, Northfield Township, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Highland Park Mayor Nancy R. Rotering for formally supporting the Justice Project. In addition to these local governments, New Trier Township and the Village of Northfield shared information about ways in which they are inclusive under the “Partner Tent” at Justice Day.
Open Communities is grateful for the support of nearly 200 individual donors, congregations, and small businesses to make Justice Day possible, to the Evanston Community Foundation, the Field Foundation of Illinois, and the Sally Mead Hands Foundation for their grant support of the Justice Project.
For more photos, visit Photography with Heart.
For more videos, visit Open Communities YouTube Justice Day 2015 playlist
For details about the day, view the Justice Day Program
Timuel Black, veteran civil rights leader
Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, Muslim leader and Chairman of the Skokie-based IQRA’ International Education Foundation, Inc.
Carol Kleiman, retired Chicago Tribune columnist representing the North Shore Summer Project and Selma Marchers
Tuyet Le, Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice representing Disability Rights and Immigrant Integration leadership
The Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church in Chicago, speaking on behalf of religious leaders
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, 9th District of Illinois
Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief of Truthout and anti-racial profiling advocate
Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director and Senior VP for Advocacy
Mayor Paul Soglin, North Shore Summer Project Volunteer (1965) & Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin
William McNary, Co-Director for Citizen Action/Illinois
Craig Dellimore, Political Editor, WBBM
Sheilah Garland-Olaniran, organizer in Chicago for National Nurses United
Music by Mark Dvorak, the Gerald McClendon Band, and the St. Paul AME Church choir.