During Black History Month, it's logical to consult Oak Park resident Lonnie Bunch, who is both African-American and the respected president of the Chicago Historical Society.
So that's just what the Sun-Times' Tom McNamee did. McNamee writes a column each Monday called "The Chicago Way," and this past Monday's column revisited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s sojourn to Chicago in 1966 to see if the Civil Rights Movement could have an impact on a northern city.
McNamee asked Bunch to accompany him to the site of the apartment building at 1550 S. Hamlin, where King and his family lived during his Chicago stay. The site is now a vacant lot, and McNamee asked Bunch if the trip did any good.
Bunch responded, "I'd argue that the federal open housing legislation of 1968 was a response to what happened here." Oak Park's landmark fair housing ordinance beat the federal law by several months.
Former guv has OP ties
Former Illinois governor Jim Thompson recently underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot that developed after he hit his head on the ice during a fall. If you saw the obituary last week for Thompson's mother, Agnes, you know that she lived in Oak Park for almost 50 years. And the former governor lived here for several years as well while growing up. We talked with Thompson about his mother, apparently just before he went into the hospital.
Brennan honored by the current guv
And speaking of governors, the current one, Rod Blagojevich, who has no Oak Park (or River Forest) connection that we know of, recently announced this year's Order of Lincoln Medallion winners, and one of the honorees is Edward A. Brennan, retired chairman, president and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Brennan, who grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Fenwick High School, became Sears' 11th chairman in 1984 and retired in 1995. He currently serves on several boards, including McDonald's, whose new president and chief operating officer, Mike Roberts, is also an ex-Oak Parker.