Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights on the North Shore


Martin Luther King, Jr. in Winnetka on July 25, 1965. Photo by John McDonough.

Historic Speech
On July 25, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a historic speech on the Village Green in Winnetka. Thanks to the efforts of the North Shore Summer Project, a group of activists focused on addressing systematic racism and housing inequality on the North Shore, Dr. King spoke to a crowd of over 8,000 – the largest to ever assemble on the Village Green. Records show that this was likely Dr. King’s first visit to what was then an all-white suburb. Read more about this historic event. Click HERE!

Learn more about the lasting impact of Dr. King’s speech in Winnetka. Click HERE!

Image of the historical marker commemorating Dr. King’s speech on the Village Green.

Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Visit to Winnetka
In 2007, a group of eight grade students and their teacher, Cecilia Gigiolio, at the Washburne School spearheaded efforts to commemorate Dr. King’s historic speech with a historical marker on the Village Green. With support from both the Winnetka Park District and the Winnetka Historical Society, the students’ efforts were successful. Learn more about the process of creating and installing the historical marker.
Read HERE!

See more Explore Winnetka Stories HERE!

Demonstrators walk east on Elm Street toward the Village Green on June 6th, 2020. Photo by Dina Spoerl.

Continuing the Fight for Civil Rights in 2020
Fifty-five years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech on the Village Green, Winnetkans are still gathering to denounce racism and fight forequality. On June 6, 2020, over 2,000 North Shore residents congregated on the Village Green in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Participants marched through the streets of Winnetka with signs while donning face masks to protect themselves and others against the spread of Covid-19. Read more about the demonstrations and the ways in which Winnetkans have vowed to continue to fight for justice and equality for people of color. Click HERE! 

Photo Gallery – Fighting Racism Then and Now: Scroll through the photo gallery to see images of the fight against racism on the North Shore over the decades. View HERE!

Advertisement for Dr. King's Speech

Image 1 of 17

Advertisement for Dr. King’s visit to Winnetka in 1965. Image courtesy of the American Friends Service Communities Archives.