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New Monument Commemorates Rainbow Beach Wade-In

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 21, 2011 6:30PM

Rainbow Beach. (Image Credit: )

A plaque was unveiled yesterday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rainbow Beach "wade-ins." The series of protests, coupled with shifting demographics in the 1960s, helped end decades of unofficial segregation of Chicago's beaches and parks.

The city opened all parks and beaches to all citizens in 1960, but beaches such as Rainbow remained off-limits to blacks, who were economically dependent on the steel mills at the time and avoided the open hostility of lifeguards and white beach-goers.

Velma Murphy Hill was one of the leaders of the first wade-in in August 1960. She was struck in the head by a rock-throwing mob of whites and required 17 stitches. Similar protests were held the next year, this time with police protection.

Murphy Hill said yesterday, “I’m sure if we had to do it again, we’d do it again."