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Showing Our Work

Firebird Public Art to Remember 1919 Race Riot

Thousands of people pass by Adams Street and Wabash Avenue every day, climbing the stairs to the L, or heading to the Art Institute or other spots in the Loop.


Few may know that corner is a murder scene, part of the 1919 riots during which, for an entire week, gangs of white Chicagoans terrorized their Black neighbors, who also fought back.

In all, 38 people died, and at least 537 were injured. Of those killed, 23 were Black.

Now, a plan is in the works to install memorials at that site and other scenes of the riots.

“It’s about using art to reach the public in a way I never could,” said Peter Cole, a history professor at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Cole has taught the history of the riot to his students since joining the university in 2000.