Experiencing Visual Rhetoric at the Living Memorial in Marquette Park

Juniors in the Rhetoric class have been pursuing the guiding question, “How does rhetoric inspire and mobilize?” Specifically, students are asked to consider how original artwork can speak out on issues and inspire collective action. In order to contextualize such a statement and experience it in person, the students journeyed to Marquette Park to see the Living Memorial dedicated to commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King’s protest march in 1966. Our long-time partner, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) has guided our experience of the memorial for the past four years. Although they were unable to join us physically this year, they provided us with the necessary tools to fully experience the artwork and to reflect on the impact of the monument.

Student, Kate reflects:

The memorial operates rhetorically by establishing pathos to address the divided community by showing the marchers protecting each other from the angry mobs. It challenges the status quo by challenging how racism isn’t completely gone in this modern era, it’s only evolved and, at the time Marquette Park was occupied by white people, so the marchers showed that they could be in their neighborhood. I believe it does chart a path for a better future because in order to avoid making the same mistakes we did in the past we must acknowledge that past and reflect on what we are currently doing in the present moment.

Student, Morgan reflects:

I think the memorial definitely speaks to an audience of people that have hopes of making change and are seeking inspiration, as well as a divided community. It addresses itself to a divided community because of how you can come together to this one spot and not only see, but feel the impact of the monument. It uses ethos and pathos in a way that helps educate people that are wishing to change perspective or to someone looking for a visual reference that spikes empathy. I think it challenges the status quo that is put in place by people who opposed the civil rights movement or don’t have enough information to be fighting for it now. This is because it is showing that this movement was and is a real thing, it is something to remember, and it is one that inspires unity for current and future generations, as we can work together to make equality happen. 


Students will receive a presentation on the history of the Chicago Freedom Movement (CFM), (2) the march Martin Luther King Jr. organized with CFM in 1966 and the reaction of nearby Chicago residents to that march, (3) the reasoning and work involved in creating the Living Memorial to that march, and (4) the message IMAN and others hope to spread through the medium of this artwork.


In preparation, students will research:

  • The Chicago Freedom Movement
  • King/Daley press conference
  • Segregation in Marquette Park – real estate offices
  • The violent reaction against Dr. King’s march
  • Summit agreement w/ Daley

All in an attempt to answer the question: Why is Marquette Park an important landmark in the civil rights struggle?

Proc: What are they doing during FE?

  • As we travel to the neighborhood, students will be taking note of the neighborhood’s demographics.
  • These demographics will be compared against those of the surrounding area in an attempt to ascertain the success of Dr. King’s goals of desegregation.
  • We will be given a tour of the Living Memorial to Dr. King and the Chicago Freedom Movement’s march in Marquette Park in 1966, asking our guiding question: How can we create visual rhetorical statements that address issues of social contention and bring people together to solve them?

The end result will be to ask students to evaluate the monument: does it achieve its purpose or does it fall short in some way? What appeals should we consider in putting together our evaluation?

Leave a Comment