Caravan celebrates renaming of Lake Shore Drive to honor DuSable: ‘We’re making history’

A caravan of dozens of vehicles drove up and down Lake Shore Drive Saturday afternoon to celebrate the renaming of one of Chicago’s most iconic roadways in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable.

SHARE Caravan celebrates renaming of Lake Shore Drive to honor DuSable: ‘We’re making history’
Tony Wilson performs a song and dance routine during a rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive Saturday in Grant Park.

Tony Wilson performs a song and dance routine during a rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive Saturday in Grant Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A caravan of dozens of vehicles drove up and down Lake Shore Drive Saturday afternoon to celebrate the renaming of Chicago’s most iconic roadway in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable.

Led by an old silver Chevrolet pickup and a trolley, the group of cars waved Haitian flags and cheered out their windows as they drove south to 67th Street before turning around and driving north to Hollywood Beach. Some drivers taped signs to their vehicle doors and windows acknowledging the new lakefront namesake of the Black man credited as Chicago’s first citizen.

“We’re making history,” said Maria Ihekwaba, who came to the event organized by the Black Heroes Matter Coalition. “We conquered what we set out to do: it’s to get Lake Shore Drive named after the founder of Chicago.”

Maria Ihekwaba poses for a photo during rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

Maria Ihekwaba poses for a photo during rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Months of discourse paved the way for the City Council to approve the rebranding of Chicago’s lakefront roadway last week to honor DuSable, a Black man of Haitian descent who was the city’s first non-indigenous settler.

The city is expected to soon replace hundreds of street signs with new ones reading “Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.”

Many of DuSable’s supporters said the move, which brings heightened recognition to Chicago’s founder, was long overdue.

“A lot of people didn’t want this to happen because people are so comfortable with what they know, and change is hard for a lot of people,” said South Sider Eric Sexton. “We set a goal to get it done, and we got it done, and now we’re looking forward to building from this because it’s bigger than this. It’s an incredible first step.”

Eric Sexton leads a prayer for members and supporters the Black Heroes Matter Coalition during a rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive.

Eric Sexton leads a prayer for members and supporters the Black Heroes Matter Coalition during a rally in celebration of the renaming of Lake Shore Drive.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The renaming comes during a renewed national conversation on racial injustice that has brought new scrutiny to how Black history is taught in schools. Sexton, 56, said he’s met many people who didn’t know who DuSable was.

“Having a dialogue now — just that alone is wonderful,” Sexton said. “So maybe right now [this] will have us start to think about Black accomplishments and how we can shed more light on it.”

Members of the Black Heroes Matter Coalition hope they can build off this momentum, bringing more tributes to DuSable in the form of a city-recognized holiday and a 25-foot statue.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who opposed the name change for its potential inconvenience to homeowners and businesses with lakefront addresses — last week said she plans to go forward with her plan to develop DuSable Park, erect a statue and have year-round programming in his honor.

“We still want her to commit and to honor that,” said Englewood resident DeAndre Hawthorne.

Ephraim Martin waves a flag along with supporters of the Black Heroes Matter Coalition during a rally on Saturday at Grant Park.

Ephraim Martin waves a flag along with supporters of the Black Heroes Matter Coalition during a rally on Saturday at Grant Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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