Chicago’s Legacy Walk: LGBT History Comes to Halsted

Tuesday October 2, 2012

CHICAGO - In recognition of October as GLBT History Month, the Board of Directors of the Legacy Project announced that the upcoming dedication of the Legacy Walk will take place on October 11, 2012, the 25th Anniversary Commemoration of National Coming-Out Day.

The Legacy Walk - to be located on one-half-mile of North Halsted Street in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood - will be an outdoor "museum walk" recognizing the contributions gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people have made to world history and culture.

This international, multi-cultural installation will consist of a series of 18" x 24" cast bronze plaques affixed to the celebrated "Rainbow Pylons" which define the stretch known as the "Northalsted Corridor" as the center of Chicago's diverse GLBT population. Each plaque will bear a laser-cast image of an inductee along with a 300-word biographical paragraph that highlights the individual's contributions.

The Legacy Project is being co-sponsored by the City of Chicago, which will be designating the Legacy Walk as an official tourist attraction. The Project has been granted exclusive use of the pylons through an agreement put together by the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel.

The mission of the Legacy Project is to inform, inspire, enlighten, and foster an appreciation for the crucial role GLBT people have played in the advancement of world history and culture.

Eighteen (18) plaques will be dedicated as part of "Phase I" of the two-year implementation of the installation. According to the project’s founder and Executive Director, Victor Salvo, "In 2012 we will attach one plaque (and the mechanical housing that supports it) to each of the seventeen (17) available pylons - with the exception of the pylon at 3345 N. Halsted which will house two of the plaques.

The Legacy Project’s Nominees come from every walk of life, hail from over 30 countries, and represent over 20 distinct fields of contribution - cutting across all lines of race, gender, identification, orientation and class.

The 2012 Inductees selected for this fall’s dedication include people as diverse as Social Justice pioneer Jane Addams, Civil Rights hero Bayard Rustin - who was Martin Luther King’s speechwriter, renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, British mathematician Alan Turing - who broke the Nazi "Enigma Code," and Chinese-American patriot Dr. Margaret Chung who founded the Women’s Naval Reserves (WAVES). Detroit icon Ruth Ellis was chosen as a nominee for 2013.

By putting The Legacy Walk right on the street, it will bring knowledge of GLBT contributions directly into the public realm - bypassing an education system that continues to redact the lives of GLBT people who came before us.

2013 will mark the installation of the remaining sixteen (16) units that will leave each pylon on the Legacy Walk with two plaques, completing Phase II with thirty-four (34) markers.

In 2014 the plaques will begin to rotate into a new Visitor’s Center the organization plans to open. Plaque rotation will ensure the outdoor exhibit remains dynamic year after year.

The Legacy Walk has been endorsed by dozens of educators, historians, community activists, business leaders, youth advocates and elected officials - including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The installation is being co-sponsored by the City of Chicago as an official Tourist Attraction.

Installation of the mechanical housings will begin in early October. Plaque attachment to the mechanical housings will begin a few days before the October 11 dedication date. "October 11th - ’National Coming-Out Day’ - is extremely important to both the GLBT community and to the Legacy Project," said Salvo, who is also the creative force behind the Legacy Project.

"The Legacy Walk was conceived on the very first National Coming-Out Day in 1987 while at the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights. Since then that day has been set-aside to recognize the contributions of our ancestors and to encourage closeted people to come out and embrace their shared heritage."

The Legacy Walk will thus be dedicated twenty-five (25) years to the day the idea was first inspired. Dedicated to GLBT youth - who are forced to grow up without historically significant role-models - the Legacy Walk will be an invaluable tool in the battle to challenge the ignorance from which anti-gay bullying springs.


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