Long, long past time that Oak Park recognized and honored the history of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, a Black congregation and a Black community centered in what is now downtown Oak Park.

A century ago on Westgate Avenue, Mt. Carmel stood as the hub of Oak Park’s small Black neighborhood. Built in 1905, the church burned on Christmas Day 1929 in uncertain but suspect circumstances. The land was quickly cleared and rebuilt as part of a new commercial corridor at Lake and Harlem.

A late-October ceremony unveiled a historical marker at the site and it also unveiled a powerful collaboration among Black Oak Park leaders and others making plain that what was taken a century ago had consequences which must now be acknowledged and compensated for.

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