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The Fight to Integrate Deerfield

In November 1959…

Residents of Deerfield, IL learned a housing developer planned to sell homes in the village to black and white buyers. Many residents opposed integration and sought reasons to halt the development. A smaller group, the Deerfield Citizens for Human Rights, formed in support of the development. In the weeks that followed, Deerfield residents passed a park referendum to condemn the developer’s land. The crisis in Deerfield became a national story, attracting the attention of Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, and Eleanor Roosevelt. After years of demonstrations and legal battles, the land became parks that stand today.

Continuing a community tradition, the Library invited residents, historians, and experts to offer new insights into this history. We updated and digitized our archives and made new acquisitions and discoveries. The Library also partnered with Deerfield schools to enhance existing curriculum. A series of discussions, lectures, exhibits, and other opportunities to reflect on the 60 years since the fight to integrate Deerfield began were held from January 21–May 2, 2019.

View Program Brochure

Fight to integrate Deerfield


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Learn about the events of 1959 and beyond

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See a detailed visual of the events around the fight to integrate Deerfield.

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See primary source documents related to The Fight to Integrate Deerfield.

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Community Stories

Share your stories from that time or your contemporary reflections.


60 Year Reflection Panel Discussion:

Richard Rothstein: “The Color of Law”

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