Memory & History: Gospel Choir Concert will Commemorate Dr. King's Visit to Solel in 1966
Loyola University Chicago's Gospel Choir performed at Congregation Solel after the Friday evening Shabbat worship service on January 16, commemorating the visit to our sanctuary by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on June 30, 1966.
The Chicago Tribune (June 25, 1966) reported: "Dr. King will outline the movement to eliminate Chicago slums being conducted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he leads."
Dr. King's speech was sponsored by the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis. At the time he was leading the Chicago Freedom Movement, whose goal was to eradicate substandard residences and to advance the cause of fair housing. A large audience, comprised of residents from several suburban communities, heard Dr. King's speech at Congregation Solel. One congregant has recalled that security was very much evident. The program also included performances by the youth choir of the First Baptist Church of North Chicago as well as Jimmy Collier, a folk singer from Chicago.
A stirring local controversy, played out in the pages of The Deerfield Review (clippings are on file in Congregation Solel's archives), surrounded Dr. King's visit to Highland Park. In the June 29, 1966 issue of the newspaper a letter-to-the-editor written by William Carroll sought to link Dr. King to domestic Communist organizations. Mr. Carroll urged Congregation Solel to invite a representative from the Jewish Society of Americanists to also speak. Milton Bram, a founding member of our congregation, answered this letter in the next issue of The Deerfield Review (July 6, 1966). His cited Rabbi Mordecai Simon, executive director of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, who identified the Jewish Society of Americanists as an affiliate of the John Birch Society. Milton Bram's letter concluded, "Mr. Carroll might consider suggesting to the Birchers that they hire their own hall and have their own meeting."
In the wake of Dr. King's visit, the secretary of the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis wrote to Congregation Solel. In expressing his gratitude, Rabbi Harold L. Kudan of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe regarded the event "a very successful program." And Rabbi William Frankel of Beth Hillel Congregation in Wilmette and president of the North Shore Fellowship, termed this occasion as "most memorable."
The January 16 commemoration of Dr. King's visit to Congregation Solel began with a Shabbat Dinner at 6 p.m., followed by a Shabbat worship service at 7 PM, and the gospel choir performance at 7:45 p.m.
Highland Park congregation hosted Martin Luther King, Jr. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/jan/16/local/chi-highland-park-mlkjan16