I have no doubt the site of Grant Park was chosen as the site of Obama’s acceptance speech because of its location (downtown Chicago) and it’s massive size to hold such an event.
But I find it quite symbolic that it was held in a park named after Ulysess S. Grant who was a general for the confederacy in a war that ended slavery and also a president who held a hard line against groups like the KKK and was one of the first to support civil rights for African-Americans.
Just something I thought was neat that I didn’t hear any of the news channels bring up.
In an unintended act of symbolism (or perhaps a subconscious act of symbolism), I just realized this morning that I had opened up a treasured bottle of Dark Lord beer in honor of Obama’s victory last night.
Grant Park also happens to be a big, convenient, centrally-located gathering place for the city of Chicago. Easy for most anyone to get to via public transit.
It was also one of the places fought for by Aaron Montgomery Ward, the fairly-egalitarian founder of the now-defunct Montgomery Ward store. (Among other things, the corporate HQ was constructed to eliminate corner office views, and thus elite-status offices, by having no windows at or near the corners.) He successfully sued the city of Chicago to prevent construction there and in other parts of the Chicago shoreline which had been declared in the mid-1800s to be “forever open, clear and free” for the use of the citizens.
John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote in his column today about how in 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Chicago for fair housing and was hit by a thrown brick. (A knife was thrown at him too, but it missed and struck a white man, participating in the march and near Dr. King, in the neck.) He discussed remembrances of people who were kids then and didn’t understand, versus kids now who don’t know anything about that.
He ends his column with this (a very short excerpt from the column):