King, Emanuel participate in The Great Migration plaque dedication

Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveil a plaque in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of The Great Migration to Chicago at the eastern entrance to the 35th Street pedestrian bridge, Saturday, Feb. 25. – Christopher Amati

By CHRISTOPHER AMATI
Staff Writer

Ald. Sophia King (4th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were on hand at the dedication of a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of The Great Migration at the eastern entrance to the 35th Street pedestrian bridge, Saturday, Feb. 25.

Highlights of the celebration, which was attended by about 30 people, included an opening performance by Chicago jazz singer Maggie Brown titled “The Great Migration” and a ceremony consisting of pouring water on the ground in memory of those who made the migration from the South to Chicago.

King and Emanuel were accompanied on the cold, snowy and windy Saturday morning by Paula Robinson, president of The Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission, who spoke on the flow of African-Americans from Mississippi and other places in the South to Chicago and of the great impact it had on the lives of those people and to the city and the country as a whole.

The plaque on the 35th Street pedestrian bridge commemorating the 100th anniversary of The Great Migration. – Christopher Amati

King said her grandparents came from Mississippi to Chicago. She said that her mother picked cotton before fleeing the south and her uncle had to flee the South under threat of lynching.

King said life handed African-Americans many lemons and today we celebrate “all the lemonade we made.”

Emanuel said that his grandfather fled the pogroms of Europe exactly 100 years ago, landing “… in a country whose name he didn’t even know how to pronounce.”

Linking migration to immigration, Emanuel said the bridge represented “symbolic access to something even better.”