In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and The Fight for Fair Housing

Thursday, Mar 4 – Jun 20, 2021

150 Cottage Hill Ave.
Elmhurst, IL 60126

As the U.S. faces a historic moment of social justice reawakening, the Elmhurst Art Museum announces a new exhibition that reflects on historical and contemporary responses to fair housing in the Chicagoland area, In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and The Fight for Fair Housing, on view at the Museum March 4 through June 20, 2021 Related programming will begin in December 2020 and continue through spring of 2021, including the opening of the complementary new exhibition, There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial, in the historic McCormick House, adjacent to the Museum, December 3, 2020 through May 8, 2021, and a virtual discussion about the Chicago Freedom Movement to be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021.

In Focus features some of the first-ever color documentary photographs taken of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as other Chicago civil rights leadership and organized public marches. All thirty-two photos were taken by 85-year-old photographer, activist and Wheaton resident Bernard Kleina, and provide context for the 1965-67 movement led by King, James Bevel, and Al Raby, who fought against systemic racism and segregation of the Chicagoland area, and inspired the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

In Focus is sponsored by the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation.

“We believe that art is a powerful tool for change, and our mission as an art museum is always to inspire people to see and think differently through art,” said John McKinnon, Executive Director of Elmhurst Art Museum. “We are proud to launch a number of events and exhibitions that further important conversations about inequities of the past leading up to today.”


A complementary exhibition and related programming will expand on the work of the Chicago Freedom Movement, continued fights for fair housing and racial equity:

There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial
December 3, 2020-May 8, 2021

The Museum’s Mies van der Rohe McCormick House will feature Pittsburgh-based interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer Alisha Wormsley and conceptual artist Ayanah Moor, professor of print-media at the School of the Art Institute of ChicagoWormsley and Moor will create an installation in the McCormick House as a means of activism and education to support mothers fighting for the future of Black housing. The exhibition references national, community, and grassroots organizations—like Moms 4 Housing—that advocate for affordable, dignified housing for all. There is Black Housing in the Future is inspired by Afro-Futurist artists and writers who affirm the visibility and well-being of Black communities across notions of space and time. An artist activity video for youth will compliment Wormsley and Moor’s artwork. Using everyday household items, the artists will guide viewers in the production of message-based posters, yard signs, and even kites to support communities' voices. 

There is Black Housing in the Future is supported by the Goethe-Institut and Wunderbar Together.


Virtual MLK Day Discussion: Chicago Freedom Movement
January 18, 2021, Time TBD

Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated with pause, reflection, and opportunities to learn more about the Chicago Freedom Movement and continued fights for fair housing in the Chicagoland area. The group discussion will include participants from the 1966 marches and other experts in the field. The virtual event is free and can be accessed on

Additional public programming will be announced after the first of the year.