Pictured above: Jahahara Harry Armstrong, organizer of the Rogers Park Tenants Committee. Donated to the RP/WRHS by Carmen Lara.
Debates. Demonstrations. Marches. Movements. People everywhere have turned to activism as a way to shape the city, the country and the world. But activism is nothing new to Chicago’s Far North Side. From the Cabbage Wars of the 1890’s to the Council Wars of the 1980’s, Rogers Park and West Ridge residents have been actively engaged in the issues of the day, and remain so today.
That’s why we’ve chosen Activism as the theme for our 2017 programs. Throughout the year, we will look at how ordinary people at the grass roots have made their voices heard and made the community a better place to live and work.
We begin in February with programs presented in partnership with two local community organizations. On February 23, we will visit the Ethiopian Cultural Center for a presentation on the 30-year history of the group’s work in refugee resettlement and support for the Ethiopian newcomers to Chicago. Also in February, we kick off our joint project, “Property” with the Roman Susan Gallery, inviting artists in the community and beyond to develop new works based on a selection of photos from our historical archive, exploring how land development influences neighborhood emergence and growth. In April-May, we’ll open a showcase exhibition highlighting the most compelling submissions.
May 1, we’ll be hearing from long-time local residents Michael James and Katy Hogan, co-founders of the Heartland Café, about their long history of political activism in the community. We’re also lining up a program detailing the past, present and future of food co-ops in Rogers Park/West Ridge, and a program featuring County Clerk David Orr, who served as 49th Ward Alderman from 1979 to 1991, and has been a local activist since his days as a faculty member and anti-war protester at Mundelein College in the 1960’s.
Whatever your interest, whatever your political persuasion, plan to take part in 2017. It’s the year of Activism for the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.