The Library mourns the passing of someone who made a difference in our community: Dr. Eve Beverly (seen right above.) Our local history archives hold many important materials related to Drs. Eve and Sherman Beverly, heads of the first Black family to make Deerfield home when they moved here in 1967. At the request of Eve’s family, we are sharing these materials in honor of Eve’s life and in honor of Black History Month.
Dr. Eve Beverly grew up in Bronzeville on Chicago’s South Side. She taught in Highland Park public schools and raised three daughters in Deerfield, along with her husband Dr. Sherman Beverly, who was also a teacher and a professor of social studies education. During the busy days of Deerfield family life raising Shereen, Lisa, and Tajma, Eve worked on her Ph.D. during the summers.
The significance of the Beverlys being the first Black family to permanently live in Deerfield can be tied directly to the public battle over racial integration that began in 1959. Many suburbs were segregated by a combination of legal barriers like redlining and racially restrictive covenants in home deeds, as well as de facto barriers including racist attitudes and threats. It wasn’t until a developer planned an intentionally racially integrated subdivision in Deerfield in the late 1950s that the issue came to the fore locally.
Many Deerfield residents loudly opposed the subdivision, eventually passing a referendum to build public parks on the developer’s land and block integration. A smaller group supported integration, establishing the group Deerfield Citizens for Human Rights. The crisis in Deerfield was a national news story that attracted the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and James Baldwin. You can learn more about this history on the page for our award-winning series The Fight to Integrate Deerfield: 60 Year Reflection.
After the subdivision project was squashed, it wasn’t until Drs. Eve and Sherman Beverly moved in—and stayed—that Deerfield became integrated. A previous Black family was run out of town in 1966 after their home was repeatedly vandalized. The Beverlys’ road to living in Deerfield wasn’t simple, and they initially dismissed the Village because of its reputation. But Deerfield’s good schools and lower costs compared to Highland Park—along with support from local groups trying to intentionally integrate the Northern suburbs—convinced them to look at homes in the Village.
You can hear more directly from Drs. Eve and Sherman Beverly about their decision to move to Deerfield in a 2009 interview conducted by Deerfield High School students in the video below, a part of the Library’s local history collection. In the video, Eve recalls the first house they put an offer on in Deerfield was rejected after the couple’s viewing of the home attracted a crowd of onlookers. Eventually, the Beverlys found an owner willing to sell to them. The Beverlys were instrumental in getting open housing ordinances passed in Highland Park in 1967 and in Deerfield in 1968.
You can find more stories of the many long legacies of the fight to integrate Deerfield, or share your own stories, on our Fight to Integrate Deerfield site. We have several articles and other videos quoting the Beverlys during the many times they shared their story publicly over their years in our local history archives. Our archives feature many fascinating and unique histories on a variety of topics. You can check out the full archives at archives.deerfieldlibrary.org