THE LEGACY OF JEAN-BAPTISTE POINT DU SABLE

26 02 2013

dusable 2“For the most part, historians claim that it was 1764, when Point du Sable was shipwrecked near New Orleans, with his childhood friend Jacques Clemorgan, on their journey to carve out a new life. Having lost his free papers in the wreck, he occupied a precarious position in the colonial South, before heading North with Clemorgan, and their newfound comrade Choctaw, for a land free of slavery.
Mentored by Pontiac, a French ally and visionary leader of several Great Lakes tribes, Point du Sable was instrumental in negotiating and preserving peace among the Miami, Illinois, and Bodéwadmi peoples during the turbulent times that followed Pontiac’s War. His joint ventures with Clemorgan proved very lucrative, producing outposts in New Orleans, Peoria, and eventually Chicago, where Point du Sable intended to settle permanently with his wife Kittiwaha (Catherine).
His tenure was interrupted by the onset of the American Revolution. Point du Sable’s land was occupied, and he became a political prisoner, spending the final two years of the American Revolutionary War under British arrest for refusing to allow his settlement to be used as a military outpost by either side of the conflict. After the War, he established his most famous settlement, at a historic regional crossroads, where the Eschikagou River met a freshwater sea.
From roughly 1780 to 1800, Point du Sable maintained a massive settlement that became the center of commerce and communication in the region, before selling his property and moving to St. Charles, where he remained until his death in 1818.dusable stamp
…The struggles for inclusion, and the preservation of history endured by Chicago’s black community, yielded in 1936, the founding of DuSable High School. In 1968, the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art was renamed as the DuSable Museum of African-American History. And in 1986, the State of Illinois included the DuSable homesite, ‘Pioneer Court’ in the National Registry of Historic Places. By 1987, the US Postal Service featured a portrait of Point du Sable on the 10th stamp in their Black Heritage Series, and the city’s prominent black mayor, Harold Washington, led the dedication of DuSable Park. Washington was one of a long list of eminent DuSable HS alumni that included Nat ‘King’ Cole, Ebony Magazine founder John H. Johnson, legendary comedian Redd Foxx and Soul Train creator Don Cornelius.
… In 2006, the Chicago City Council officially adjusted Point du Sable’s status from “Father” to “Founder” of Chicago. And in 2009, a new monument, donated by a Haitian family spearheading the DuSable Heritage Association, was dedicated at Pioneer Court. One year later, in a compromise solution to the controversy surrounding a proposed renaming of the city’s famous Lake Shore Drive, the Michigan Avenue Bridge was renamed the DuSable Bridge.
A leader at the forefront of the efforts was activist, scholar and artist, Dr. Margaret Burroughs (1915-2010). In her fight to preserve and promote black legacies, she founded what would become the DuSable Museum of African American History with her husband Charles, in the parlor of their home.”

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