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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of January each year. His leadership during the civil rights movement is known across the country. One main location of his battles was Chicago’s west side. Specifically, the Lawndale area.
In 1966 he moved with his wife and children to an apartment at 1550 S Hamlin in North Lawndale. He came to expose the terrible living conditions that so many on the west side endured.
Additionally, he planned to take action and scheduled marches that stretched to Marquette Park and Cicero. These marches aimed to classify racism as a national problem. His apartment on Hamline was the only place in the northern United States where King ever lived.
The apartment the civil rights leader moved into had no heat, no running water, and no electricity. The floors were dirt and the door was broken, not to mention an overpowering stench that filled the building. The eradication of these living conditions was part of King’s plan for a redistribution of economic and social power. However, that goal is still unachieved.
In 1966, when King visited, the area was still full of apartment buildings and bustling shops. Now, the area is littered with vacant lots and boarded buildings. However, the Martin Luther King Legacy Apartments stands today as a reminder of his fight, and that his dream can still be achieved.
Written by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Sheena Roberston
WTTW: Lawndale Legacy: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Fight for Fair Housing
LAWNDALE CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION: The MLK Memorial District & Dr. King Legacy Apartments
DNAinfo: 50 Years Ago MLK Lived In, Led Fair Housing Fight From Chicago’s West Side
Inset Image Courtesy of bswise’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Geoff Livingston’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License