Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle is a dynamic two-month series of film screenings, lectures, and discussion forums that promises to encourage community discussion about America’s civil rights history. All programs will be held in the Main Library Veterans Room, spanning from Feb. 9 through March 29.
Join us at one or all events to help mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, as well as honor the Oak Park citizens who worked to integrate their village and schools some 40 years ago.
“History is like a lantern that can light all our paths throughout life. How can we know where we’re going, or appreciate where we are, if we don’t know where we’re coming from?” ~ Harriette Robinet, one of Oak Park’s first African-American homeowners in the 1960s
Film historian, author, educator and journalist Doug Deuchler will introduce and lead discussion on three feature films exploring race relations, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm.
A Raisin in the Sun
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1:30 pm
Based on Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning play. A poor, but proud, African American family seek a better life by moving from their small apartment on Chicago’s South Side into an all-white area. (1961, 128 minutes)
Wednesday, March 12, 1:30 pm
The film story of two FBI agents who struggle to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small southern town while investigating the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964. This film is based on an actual case. (1988, 128 minutes)
Wednesday, March 19, 1:30 pm
Cecil Gaines served eight presidents over three decades as a butler at the White House, while the civil rights movement, Vietnam War and other major events changed his family and American society. Lee Daniels directed a cast which includes Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Forest Whitaker and Cuba Gooding, Jr. (2013, 132 minutes)
An Integrated Oak Park? How Did That Happen?
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2 pm
A dedicated group of Oak Park residents passed an Open Housing Ordinance in 1968, created the Oak Park Housing Center in 1974, and banned local realtors from posting “For Sale” signs in the Village. These actions, along with many others, helped create an integrated Oak Park. Join Bobbie Raymond, founder of the Oak Park Housing Center, Larry Christmas, former Village President, Ronald Atkins, former Housing Center and D90 board member, and Louise Varnes, long-time Housing Counselor, Oak Park Regional Housing Center.
Black and White, Oak Park Love Stories
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7 pm
It wasn’t easy in the 1960s to want to marry a person of another race. Hear the stories from people who did that many years ago—what they faced then, what it was like to raise bi-racial children in Oak Park. George and Linda Bailey, along with other Oak Park couples, share their stories.
Why Oak Park Needs a Housing Center in 2014
Saturday, March 22, 2 pm
Join Rob Breymaier, Executive Director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, along with Morgan Davis, Executive Director of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, and former Housing Center Board President Glenn Brewer, to learn the crucial role the Housing Center still plays today in Oak Park.
What Did It Take to Integrate Oak Park Schools?
Saturday, March 29, 2 pm
Learn how 45 Oak Park citizens came together in the 1970s to create a plan that successfully integrated Oak Park’s elementary schools. Robert Giles, Galen Gockel and Marion Hogenboom will lead the discussion.
Sunday, Feb. 9, 2 pm (Part 1)
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30 pm (Part 2)
Join Lawrence Howe, PhD, Roosevelt University, to view and discuss The Abolitionists (Part 1). This film tells the story of a small group of moral reformers in the 1830s who launched one of the most ambitious social movements imaginable: the immediate emancipation of millions of African Americans held in bondage, This happened at a time when slavery was one of the most powerful economic and political forces in the U.S. (90 minutes, each showing)
The Loving Story
Sunday, Feb. 16, 2 pm
Join George Bailey, PhD, Columbia College Chicago, to see this moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving. This couple was arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision, “Loving vs Virginia”(1967) which overturned anti-miscengenation laws in the U.S (77 minutes)
Slavery by Another Name
Sunday, March 2, 2 pm
Join Erik Gellman, PhD, Roosevelt University to see and discuss this film, based on the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon. Even as slavery ended in the south after the Civil War, new forms of forced labor kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II. (90 minutes)
Sunday, March 16, 2 pm
The Freedom Riders of 1961 were a pivotal moment in the long Civil Rights struggle that redefined America. From veteran filmmaker Stanley Nelson, this documentary film offers an inside look at the brave band of activists who risked everything to challenge segregation in the Deep South. (120 minutes)
Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Special thanks to the Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center for their collaboration.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection