The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19) exists to commemorate the worst incident of racial violence in the city’s history. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 is long forgotten, despite its huge impact on the subsequent shape and development of the city. Stolpersteine, an ongoing German project to honor Holocaust victims, offers a powerful model for how to use dispersed public art to remember past atrocities and provoke conversations about their legacy. CRR19 proposes to use much-modified versions of stolpersteine to ignite conversations about racism, past and present, in Chicago and the nation. We intend to create and install artistic markers at each of the 38 locations where someone was killed in 1919. Formally launched on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 riot, we believe that now is the moment for Chicago to confront its bloodiest chapter and heal the wounds that time alone has not. We must remember America’s troubled past of racial violence and white supremacy if we wish to improve the future.
CRR19 Mission Statement
The path forward to achieving racial equality and justice first demands acknowledging the horrors of the past and the ways that structural inequities persist in communities of color. In this spirit, the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19) seeks to raise awareness about the worst incident of racial violence in Chicago’s history by installing artistic markers to those killed during the riot at the locations where each was killed. While ultimately our goal is racial equality, our objectives include:
- To design, create, and install public works of art at the locations where 38 people (23 black, 15 white) were killed during the riot.
- To educate people of all ages—in the general public as well as in Chicago Public Schools, parochial and private schools, colleges and universities—about this history: causes, context, details, and impacts.
- To partner with individuals and groups in neighborhoods where the riots occurred, across the city of Chicago, in Cook County and Illinois, as well as beyond as we strive for racial healing and truth.
- To collect, document, and research all of those killed and wounded during the 1919 riot.
- To make available our research via a website, public talks and tours in the communities impacted, and via a museum exhibit designed to travel.
- To engage local people as well as artistic, civic, historic, public and private organizations in this work with an emphasis on serving the communities most directly impacted by the riot, particularly in the black community on Chicago’s South Side.
- To move towards racial equality and justice by creating chances for more discussions and more challenging ones about race and racism, past and present.