Last month, in each of our villages – in Wilmette, Northfield, and in neighboring townships across the North Shore – tens of thousands of residents, students, advocates, and Democrats marched in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. On the Winnetka Village Green, we hosted the largest protest in over 50 years, since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there in 1965.
We marched, because we were called to do something in the face of police brutality against Black women and men. We were called, in spite of pandemic, to stand up and be counted. And still, we know, that a walk down Elm street is not enough. Throughout our politics and our societies and our villages, each of us no doubt senses the winds of change.
And so, this month, we go further, to engage our community, atone for our past, and reimagine the future of our village. Next Thursday, I invite you to join us for the first of four community conversations about race and racism in Winnetka and on the North Shore.
On Thursday, we’ll hear perspectives from student organizers and Black neighbors and pick up the conversation that began in earnest a half century ago about who is welcome in Winnetka. The following week , we’ll hear from almost a dozen students, from a myriad of backgrounds sharing their perspectives on growing up here. On the third Thursday in August , we’ll invite historians of progress to share the story of how Winnetka chose to be 94.8% white (per the 2010 census) before. Finally, on August 27th, we’ll close the series with an honest conversation about how change happens, and how we can be participants in – and advocates of – racial progress and reconciliation.
Some things, we hope, defy partisanship. Protecting Black lives should be chief among them. But as Democrats, we have a special duty to support and lead these conversations, because we believe that racial diversity and racial equity are to be fought for – to be achieved – not just written about.
So, join us, Thursday evenings in August, as we embark on a community conversation about a future for the suburbs, and take the next step on a long journey along the moral arc of the universe, which – we trust – we might bend a little further toward justice.
Patrick Hanley, one of the organizers of the Winnetka walk and this conversation series, and NTD’s newest Executive Committee Board Member