Serving the Community since 1964


The Photographs: This photo set shows the first hand perspective of famed Civil Right's Jazz photographer Ted Williams as he participated and documented one of the largest demonstrations of peaceful protest in American history, and pin-points an incredibly critical moment in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. Photo set includes 37 photos, all hand developed and signed by Mr. Williams himself in 1966. This is 1 of 5 original artist proof photo sets.



MLK 1964 Peace Rally Photography by Ted Williams


Illinois Rally for Civil Rights 1964: On June 21, 1964, Soldier Field in Chicago played host to the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights. The principle speakers were Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., President and Founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame.


The rally, whose operating costs reached $25,000, opened with two hours of jazz and gospel music and entertainment, including a 5000-voice choir led by gospel signer Mahalia Jackson.  General admission was free, but priority seating was available for $2-5.  Nearly 150 various organizations promoted the event, distributing 1.5 million flyers in Chicago, and brought their members to the rally by the bus-full.  A crowd was estimated between 57,000-75,000 people from diverse walks of life, races, and faiths endured early rain and later sweltering heat in Soldier Field, standing in solidarity of racial equality.


At the time, the Illinois Rally was the second largest Civil Rights demonstration, after the 1963 March on Washington.  While there was a small group of protesters outside of Soldier Field, the Illinois Rally was overall a peaceful and successful event.

President Lyndon Johnson would sign the [1964 Civil Rights] bill into law on July 2, 1964, just 12 days after the peaceful demonstration at Solider Field. (Source: Notre Dame Archives)


Photographer Bio: Ted Williams (1925-2009) first heard jazz on the radio as a youngster in the 1930s in Wichita, Kansas. The sounds of Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway broadcast from Chicago's legendary Grand Terrace Ballroom inspired him and in the late 1940s, Williams merged his love of music and photography and moved to Chicago where he captured unguarded photographic studies of some of the era's greatest jazz musicians.


His work appeared in major international publications including TimeNewsweekLookPlayboy and Ebony. His coverage of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival landed him a spectacular 21-page layout in Down Beat magazine. Williams was active on the jazz scene from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. He photographed many of the greats in jazz, including Ella FitzgeraldDuke EllingtonDizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. Williams’ historic archive runs to more than 100,000 images and comprises perhaps the most intimate and complete collection of Jazz’s greatest musicians at work, rest and play. (Source: Iconic Images)


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