Brooks Statue Unveiling, Right After Brooksday 2018 (June 7)
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame will dedicate Gwendolyn Brooks: Oracle of Bronzeville on Thursday, June 7, which would have been Gwendolyn Brooks’ 101st birthday, at Brooks Park (4542 S. Greenwood). The ceremony portion of the program will take place at Kenwood United Church of Christ (4600-08 S. Greenwood), which sits directly across the street from Brooks Park.
The ceremony starts at six p.m. and the evening in the park concludes around 8 p.m. Between the ceremony and the dedication, we’ll march the thirty yards between the church and the park. The evening is part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks programming.
Earlier in the day, from 3-5 p.m., the Guild Literary Complex will host Brooksday 2018 at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park (301 E. Garfield Blvd., Chicago). This annual event, which has become a cultural can’t miss happening, features a lineup of incredible writers, dedicated scholars, and cultural icons reading from Brooks’ work. The hope is that everybody will go to the Brooksday 2018 celebration, and then make the short hop to Brooks Park for the statue dedication and unveiling.
The Brooks statue dedication features a lineup of people close to the life and legacy of the poet, whose image has been captured in bronze as part of a wider installation that includes a porch modeled after her childhood writing spot, stepping stones etched with memorable Annie Allen quotes, and a gravel circle and sitting spots. Our goal is for the installation to be used in conjunction with a wide variety of community literary projects and events, by a wide variety of cultural institutions and artists, for many years. We especially strive to get young authors engaged.
Sculptress Margot McMahon will be on hand to discuss her creation, as will Brooks’ daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely. Rana Segal, Rev. Lisa Goods, APG, Mike Puican, Ydalmi Noriega, Kelly Norman Ellis, Angela Jackson, Alderman Sophia King, and Haki Madhubuti will also offer short remarks.
The plan is for sunny skies. In which case, Kenwood United Church of Christ will set up a table and sell food and drink, with any money raised going to their important work caring for the community. We also encourage all guests to bring donations for the church’s food pantry. There will be chairs in the park, but it might be a good idea to bring blankets, or your own snacks, or whatever else you need to enjoy a great Night Out in the Park.
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, in partnership with sculptor Margot McMahon, Chicago Park District, the Poetry Foundation, and Brooks Permissions, cleared the final hurdle to approval of a landmark installation in Brooks Park. The Chicago Park District recently green-lighted final plans to install a larger-than-life bronze portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, along with a porch modeled after the poet’s childhood writing spot, a stepping stone path etched with memorable Annie Allenquotations, and a stone circle symbolic of her enlarged world post-literary acclaim. The Chicago Park District also awarded the CLHOF a $2,000 grant and other support to help stage the unveiling on June 7 of this year, which would have been Brooks’ 101st birthday. The program, which is part of the Night Out in the Parks series, will run from 6-8 p.m. and include readings, performances, and tributes.
Gwendolyn Brooks: The Oracle of Bronzeville will be the very first sculpture of an African American woman, and also the very first sculpture of a woman poet, in any Chicago park. Daniel Tucker, writing for WBEZ.org on July 21, 2015, explained that “According to the Chicago Park District, there are [almost] no statues of women in our city’s parks because the heyday of public figurative sculpture in the United States took place at a time before women had earned the right to vote.”