No more excuses.
Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a black man, was the first permanent, non-native settler of the land that would become the great metropolis of Chicago.
On Thursday, the Chicago City Council’s transportation committee voted to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive, a 17-mile stretch from Hollywood Avenue to 67th Street, in honor of DuSable.
The municipal push to rename the Drive comes over Mayor LoriLightfoot’s objections. She offers an alternative. She pledges $25 million to complete DuSable Park, rename the city’s Riverwalk, and create an exhibit there in DuSable’s honor. It’s not enough.
Born in Haiti of African descent, DuSable emigrated to New Orleans and traveled up the Mississippi River. tribute to DuSable. (The Evolving Man Project is a website produced by Lornett Vestal, a Chicago-born activist who works to promote social change.)
An ambitious trader, DuSable was “described as handsome and well-educated,” Wikipedia notes.
Long before the white “founders” of America banned interracial marriage, DuSable married a Native American woman, Kitiwaha, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, and the couple had two children. DuSable joined the tribe. The Potawatomi called him the “Black Leader,” according to Evolving Man.
DuSable built a thriving trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River, near the current location of the Tribune Tower. The site was later incorporated as the City of Chicago.
“Point duSable’s successful role in the development of the Chicago River Settlement went little recognized until the middle of the 20th century,” explains Wikipedia.
At 21stcentury, the apology trail is longer than DuSable’s journey to the mouth of the Chicago River.
The name change would be a costly administrative nightmare, some say. North Side residents would be inconvenienced. It would blur Chicago’s international marketing and brand.
This North Side resident lives on Lake Shore Drive. It’s time for Chicago’s Black Father to get his due.
I first heard about DuSable from Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. He reveled in the joy of leading a city founded by a black man. In 1987, Washington dedicated land near Navy Pier as DuSable Park. It was never completed. .
In 1993, then-Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) and Madeline Haithcock (2nd) upped the ante, pushing an effort to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable. writing. “Eight years later, so-Ald. Ed Smith (28th) offered another DuSable honor — naming City Hall after him — only to suffer the same fate.
The current proposal will soon be submitted to the full City Council. Co-sponsor David Moore says he has the votes to adopt it.
Jean Baptiste Point DuSable founded this great American city. Without DuSable, there would be no Chicago.
People of color – first Native Americans, then DuSable, discovered and possessed this land long before their white oppressors took it. That’s reason enough to give a great black man our highest honor.
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