The 2021 HEROS MLK Legacy Workshop was presented in partnership with: The Volunteer Center of N.E. Metro Chicago

Thank You for participating!

HEROS honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this month by hosting a workshop focused on the urgency of creating the Beloved Community.  Nearly 200 community members joined HEROS in five breakout sessions to identify local action we can each take in our own communities toward achieving his goal of ending racial discrimination and segregation.  Here are some of the highlights from our challenging and inspiring workshop. 

HEROS began our workshop with a land acknowledgment to honor the Potawatomi, Odawa and Ojibwe Tribes, known collectively as the Council of the Three Fires.  Despite the forced removal and active erasure of these peoples, they remain of the lands upon which exist today’s communities of the New Trier Township and school system.

Following is an overview of the five breakout rooms and links to resources to learn more and take next steps:

*Affordable Housing. A historical perspective to the myths and truths surrounding the issue of fair and affordable housing in our area.  The importance of making the North Shore more welcoming to people of color was emphasized as a key factor in reducing inequality and making our community more integrated.  Want to help build an integrated community?  Research local history, join housing commissions, attend village and school Board of Education meetings, search for related not-for-profit organizations and vote!

Review the slides from this presentation – Affordable Housing presentation slides

*Local Education.  What did we learn in school about Martin Luther King other than his “I Have A Dream” speech?  How can we reconcile the racial awakening in our country today with the pain of racism in our past?  How can we challenge ourselves to move forward to reconciliation?  Participants challenged themselves with these difficult and uncomfortable questions.  Putting structural racism in the context of Dr King’s teachings, we need to focus on educating ourselves individually; we can all challenge ourselves to assess what we think, how we behave, what we do to consider how race has impacted our lives.  Read history that focuses on race, don’t shy away from difficult conversations, join or start an anti-racist group in your community and communicate with your local schools.

*Hidden Stories: Researching Local History. Chicago’s North Shore is more than 90% white; like most white suburbs in the US, this is by design.  Breaking down both the policies and culture that prevented African Americans from buying homes in our area since its founding in the late 19th century, we discussed specific research tools available to understand how this racial segregation is so hard to change.  Dr. King said that segregation and racial inequality existed because “good people”  remain silent.  What can we do to speak up? Dig deeper into history, use our library resources, educate ourselves, start or join a book group on race, get involved in local government, share references and visit local museums that teach about race, e.g. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian  and the Du Sable Museum of African American History. 

Check out the full list of North Shore History Research Resources

*Civic Engagement. Create a Beloved Community via affirmation of our differences! Taking the first step is the most difficult part of becoming a change agent in our communities.  Identify the issues that you care about most and find a way to participate.  There is a constellation of change; among the multiple ways to help your community, find a route to engage through  organizations that bring your values into reality.  Get proximate to problems you see in your community, your workplace, your schools and your organizations.  Branch out of your comfort zone, your immediate neighborhood, your house of worship, and befriend people who are different from you.  We have to change the narrative of how to think about ourselves and our communities to place true racial diversity as a core value.  Make your voice heard and join organizations such as the League of Women Voters and The Justice Project.  Most importantly, remember that each individual can be a change agent; choose one action item you can do today to be civically engaged and start to create a Beloved Community.  State your action and goal publicly.  

*Beginning Your Anti-Racism Journey. The current coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the reality that we in fact are experiencing two pandemics simultaneously: Covid and structural racism.  One has a vaccine, the other does not.  To heal racism, white people need to get comfortable being uncomfortable and recognize that the anti-racism journey is not a straight path.  Rather, it has curves, hurdles and its outcome is not clear or predictable.  Uncomfortable issues such as white privilege, equity, unconscious bias, microaggressions, prejudice and systemic racism were all parsed out in both a historic and current setting. 

Where to begin? 

  • Watch videos by former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.”    
  • Educate ourselves, make our voices heard, watch films and tv shows that explore the uncomfortable topics of race in our society today.  
  • Stay hopeful, remain engaged, make new friends and engage with HEROS as we work together to create the Beloved Community in our communities.

More Helpful Links

Information on Land acknowledgements

Shorefront Legacy Center

The Volunteer Center

The Justice Project

21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

American Bar Association 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge 

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man

Lawndale Christian Legal Center

Muslim Community Center

More About our Land Acknowledgement

HEROS remains committed to supporting inclusive spaces for courageous and comprehensive conversations about race.  Accordingly, our MLK Legacy event opened with a Land Acknowledgement Statement delivered due diligence and in good faith with protocols developed through generous consultation with Native American leadership at Northwestern University.  Key features of such statements include: explicit acknowledgment of the erasure and genocide of Native American and Indigenous peoples from lands collected in the advancement of white supremacy and settler colonialism; and recognition that Native American and Indigenous people remain vibrant contributors to our communities today despite the fact that their systematic erasure continues. 

The protocols for making such statements at various gatherings emphasize, among several points: the proper pronunciation and naming of tribes originally connected to the local area lands now occupied by a given community (or institution); inviting the stories and histories of Native American and Indigenous people as part of national and local history; welcoming the voices and experiences of Native American or Indigenous people to participate in these conversations; and challenging audience members to learn more about the history and present of Native American and Indigenous people.  

Individuals and organizations interested in developing a Land Acknowledgement Statement and protocols for their events and activities are encouraged to learn more from such resources as can be found at this link.  Ultimately, the effort to develop and implement a Land Acknowledgement Statement and Protocol is recognized as an effective technique for expanding awareness even if it is not delivered by a person who identifies as Native American or Indigenous.  Rather, the focus is on bringing visibility and presence to peoples who continue to be invisible and absent, especially in conversations that contemplate or implicate the human toll of systemic racism and white supremacy in this country.

Five Breakout Rooms
Breakout Room 1
Affordable Housing and
Integrated Communities

Gail Schechter & Lorelei McClure
We must go all out to end segregation in housing… Every white person does great injury to his child to grow up in a world that is two-thirds colored and yet live in conditions where that child does not come into person-to-person contact with colored people…
— Dr. King, Winnetka, July 1965
Breakout Room 2
Local Education
Todd Maxman & Katja Steen
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Breakout Room 3
Hidden Stories: Researching Local History
John Jacoby & Celia Buckman
History has presented us with a cosmic challenge. We must now learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.
— Dr. King, Winnetka, July 1965
Breakout Room 4
Civic Engagement
Cindy Levine, Dilnaz Waraich & Patrick Hanley
“The shape of the world today does not permit our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy.”
— Dr. King, Winnetka, July 1965
Breakout Room 5
Beginning Your Anti-Racism Journey
Pat Savage-Williams & Laurie Elkin
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than an absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We wish to thank Miss Aidia Steen for her design of the Workshop flyer!