News Column

Potential sites to honor DuSable Museum founder

August 20, 2014

By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye, Chicago

Aug. 20--A cultural center, a city park and even some beaches are among the potential sites that could be named in honor of Margaret Burroughs, the co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History.

And the longstanding request to rename 31st Street Harbor in Bronzeville remains afloat. Staffers from Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis appealed to the Chicago Park District board at its last two meetings to name the harbor after Burroughs, who died in 2010 at age 95.

In addition to founding the DuSable Museum of African American History, Burroughs was a teacher, art historian, advocate, painter, and civic leader who served as a park district board member. She was credited with establishing the South Side Community Art Center dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt.

"To have the public, the constituents, the community that drives past it every day to see Dr. Margaret Burroughs' name would be an honor and tribute to her legacy and her work," Cherita Logan, district director for Davis, said last week.

She said the congressman's office has collected more than 500 signatures supporting the naming request.

Park district staff recently provided to the board a list of possible locations to honor Burroughs.

Among them was the South Shore Cultural Center, which featured a gallery dedicated to Burroughs, and the Lake Meadows Park located at 3117 S. Rhodes Ave. because of the connection to Burroughs' role in creating the Lake Meadows Art Fair.

Another spot on the list was the unnamed five-acre park at 24th and Federal Streets roughly two miles away from her Bronzeville home, which was designated a Chicago landmark.

The short list also included three beaches named after streets: Oakwood, 57th Street and 63rd Street.

"It'd be really nice to name some significant feature like that close to her greatest period of influence in her home on the lakefront," said Rob Rejman, park district director of planning and construction.

The suggestion of 31st beach or harbor was not off the table, he said.

"It's one of many potential locations. It's just sort of right now seemingly the farthest removed from events in Margaret Burroughs life," Rejman said.

She was an amazing park advocate deserving of being honored, said Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Park.

"We're just thrilled at the concept. Certainly it's the type of thing we'd like to be driven by the community and those who truly appreciate her contributions," she said.

Naming a public venue in Burroughs' honor was overdue, said Rush in a Sun-Times op-ed in June, who pushed for the harbor renaming with Davis two years ago. However, it did not move forward at that time.

"There is no better time than today to honor a woman pioneer whose contributions promoted cultural harmony and artistic opportunity for all," Rush wrote.

The next step in the naming process is getting a consensus in the community on which venue is best to honor Burroughs including having the aldermen and local park advisory council weigh in on the sites before taking a recommendation to the board for approval.


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Source: RedEye (Chicago, IL)

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