|Friends welcome back the leadership of Black Heroes Matter as guest blogger this week. Below, they share more background information on their journey towards getting proper honor for Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable,|
LSD To DuSable Drive Close to Reality- Justice For Chicago Black Founder.
An Historic 1st Round Win- DuSable Drive -Alderman David Moore/BHM victory!
Chicago City Council Transportation and Public Way Committee unanimously voted to rename the outer Lake Shore Drive (LSD) as DuSable Drive, to honor the Black man from the Caribbean who founded Chicago. The Black Heroes Matter (BHM) Coalition with City Council ordinance sponsor Alderman David Moore kicked off the campaign one year ago after the murder of George Floyd calling for an end to Systemic Racism and for a City Holiday, a major Monument, and to rename Lake Shore Drive in honor of DuSable the city’s first settler. On Thursday, April 29th, the Chicago City Council Committee on Transportation and Public Way unanimously voted to rename Lake Shore Drive as Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Drive, and now the ordinance which is sponsored by Alderman David Moore and co-sponsored by Alderwoman Sophia King must go to the full City Council on May 26th for the final vote to make it official.
It was the remarkable one year of non-stop campaigning by the Black Heroes Matter (BHM) Coalition founded by Chairman Ephraim Martin and powered by his Martin’s International Foundation (MIF) and Justice Shelvin L. M. Hall, Ret., of the Illinois Appellate Court, along with some 30 organizations now grown to over 80 organizations and businesses (see @ http://www.Blackheroesmatter.org), who would not let a week go by without addressing the various City Council Committees asking for DuSable’s justice and for an end to Systemic Racism that led us to this moment. BHM wants the wrongs to DuSable, the Black man from the Caribbean country of Haiti, to be corrected with the renaming of Lake Shore Drive as DuSable Drive, a full City Holiday, and a major 25-foot Monument in Grant Park for the first settler in what is now known as Chicago.
DUSABLE AND MIF: In 1995, Martin’s International took the African/Caribbean International Festival of Life (IFOL) to City Front Center (called DuSable’s Land by Ephraim), near Navy Pier to remember the Founder DuSable, but the late Alderman Burt Natarus called the peaceful Black attendees, “invaders” and declared he would not permit so many outsiders for the following year. It was at that point the founder of the DuSable Museum, the late Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs invited the annual Festival to the DuSable Sunken Garden, where it has been for years. Mr. Martin has been dedicating some of its special events to DuSable for 25 years now.
On Wednesday, May 27th, 2020, following the Memorial Day Police murder of George Floyd, Mr. Martin sent a letter to the Minnesota Governor and three days later received the Governor’s reply. Feeling pushed to the edge by the police killing and systemic racism in America, Martin was determined to make a difference and kicked off the campaign for DuSable’s Justice and a seven-point plan to start down the road to help end systemic racism that included change in policing and the US Postal Zip code. Justice Hall and Martin created the name, “Black Heroes Matter” (BHM), and in days mobilized more than twenty organizations to form a BHM Coalition. Click the following link to see the organizations and more https://www.blackheroesmatter.org/ On July 4th, 2020, Alderman Moore joined the BHM rally and march, watch here https://youtu.be/fcobTsxPtn4.
The BHM street objective was for Columbus Drive or LSD, however, Martin was concerned about LSD knowing that it was rejected in 1993. Nevertheless, when Alderman Moore spoke and declared that he currently has a proposed ordinance for the LSD, the BHM agreed to work with Alderman Moore’s ordinance and to go full force to change the LSD to DuSable Drive. After almost one year, Alderman Moore and the Black Heroes Matter Coalition have crossed the first hurdle with one to go. The BHM is asking all Chicagoans and friends to call on all 50 Alderpersons to vote yes to rename LSD as DuSable Drive at the May 26th full Council meeting.
Several of the BHM members, Justice Shelvin L.M. Hall, Tremell Williams, Marilyn May, Minister Eric Sexton gave public comments at the start of the April 29th, 2021 Transportation Committee meeting. Chairman, Ephraim Martin was an invited guest speaker for renaming the Lake Shore Drive to DuSable Drive. The following is what he had to say.
“Hon. Chairman, your committee is about to write history and to enter the record book as one of the biggest victories for Chicago and its people that will lay the foundation to say to the world, Chicago has put aside vanity, fears and has taken the lead to end Systemic Racism in this great city of ours, so Black, Brown, White, Yellow, and all races will live together as one in a city where there will be no more, Southside, Westside, Northside, Eastside, uptown or down-town. A city where our youth, will no longer be killing each other, but will be learning their past history, culture, and forming their beliefs. They will know that over 240 years ago in 1779, this land we enjoy as Chicago was started by a Black man by the name of DuSable from the Caribbean country of Haiti. But because of the color of his skin he was denied his respect and credit, such as a Street, a Monument, and a City Holiday. Mr. Chairman, they will know that DuSable made his transition in 1818, and in 1830, when Chicago’s first boundaries were set, the first streets, were all named after White men: Washington, Jefferson, and yes, John Kinzie, who purchased DuSable’s property. The tomorrow’s children will know, that in about 1919, activists were calling for full recognition for DuSable. That same year witnesses the violent, racist destruction of our Black Wall Street in Oklahoma; one of the few achievements that African Americans could be proud of. Yes, they will know, that in 1927, 94 years ago, there was another chance to give DuSable the Street then known as Field Blvd, but the practice of racism stood its ground, and the Blvd was named in the honor of Leif Ericson, an explorer. In 1946, Leif Ericson Drive was renamed Lake Shore Drive, now 74 years later a small minority are making the excuse to say LSD is too iconic to be renamed in Chicago’s rightful founder DuSable’s name. Of all the things we are requesting for DuSable; the primary one that will bring real change to Chicago, is the renaming of Lake Shore Drive as DuSable Drive, right now with a yes vote.”, Mr. Martin said.
Justice Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, Ret., Chair BHM Political Committee:
“Council members today it’s time to make a change. It is time to rename Lake Shore Drive and finally give honor to the founder of the city of Chicago, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a remarkable Black man from Haiti who made the mouth of the Chicago river at Lake Michigan his home, his prosperous trading business and the place where nations and races converged for good. The need for this committee to take a stand against the centuries of systemic and overt, past and current racism is no more apparent than now when only yesterday, one of the few treasures in DuSable’s name Dr. Margaret Burrough’s own, DuSable Museum, received threatening hate mail identifying our black and progressive heroes, Barack and Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Take a stand now against racism and for change, this is your chance, right here right now. The Sears Tower becomes the Willis Tower, White Sox Park becomes Guaranteed Rate Field, our beloved Marshall Fields becomes Macys, Leif Ericson becomes Lake Shore Drive; everything, must change. Let us make this a change for the good. Honor this great man now. Be on the right side of history and vote “yes” to create Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Drive.”. Justice Hall, told the Committee.
Ms. Marilyn May, Host/Producer, Marilyn’s Café Society and BHM Communications Co-Chair in her comment, told the council.
As you know, my call this afternoon is to stress the importance of a YES vote to rename Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable Drive today as well as during the next full council meeting in May. I am certain by now you all understand that this is an historic moment for Chicago, for the country, and for the world.
As leaders of the City of Chicago, you all must not succumb to the opposition. Keep in mind that the opposition mostly represents all the ugliness that continues to perpetuate systemic racism in this city and this country. I read that Chicago is called the City of Big Shoulders because of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” which
highlighted the hard-working nature of this city during its busy, laborious early days. His poem also created an image of a strong city willing, ready, and able to take on any difficult or demanding task. Leaders, the YES vote to rename LSD to DuSable Drive is the demanding, and for some–difficult task that sits before you all today. Show the world that Chicago is not only a City that works but its also a city that demonstrates progressive growth and wisdom. Say No to the ingrained hate and racist thinking of the past that has clearly done more harm than good–by voting Yes to DuSable, the city’s true founder.
Imagine the impact that your Yes vote will have on young and even older black and brown people growing up and living in this city who are often treated more like unwanted visitors rather than the citizens that they are. Envision leaders across the country taking note of this positive, historic Vote that you, the leaders of this great city will courageously take. Be wise. Take the lead.
Take this huge step toward chipping away at systemic racism. Vote Yes today and in May during the next full city council meeting. Properly honor Chicago’s founder, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable. Rename LSD to DuSable Drive.
Ms. May concluded.
Tremell Williams of ELITEMIND Mgmt., and Entertainment/Youth Chair Committee of the BHM Coalition.