City of Evanston’s First African American Alderman’s Home Becomes A Heritage Site

The home of Edwin B. Jourdain, Jr., the city’s first African American alderman of the City of Evanston from 1931 to 1947, will become one of the eight designated African American heritage sites.   Located at 2032 Darrow Avenue, Jourdain’s historic home will be a remembrance of the early establishment of African Americans who lived in Evanston.

Dino Robinson Jr., the founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center, told The Daily Northwestern, “It’s important to know the address, know the location and know the historical significance that Jourdain had to the city of Evanston. ” Our contemporaries today, especially our youth, can see just in their neighborhood if they live next door or even if they live in that house, will know that he was someone of significance.”

Born in New Bedford, MA, Jourdain graduated with honors from Harvard’s Business School in 1921. He later did graduate work at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Jourdain was a reporter at the Chicago Whip, Chicago Bee, and a managing editor at the Chicago Defender. In 1931, Jourdain was elected as alderman of Evanston’s 5th Ward, where he organized sit-ins, equal pay for teachers, and integration of schools, theaters, and beaches in Evanston.

In 1983, the City of Evanston renamed a recreation center in his honor, Fleetwood-Jourdain Center located at 2010 Dewey Street. Jourdain died in 1984. The center is the first in the city to be named for an African American man.

There are seven African American heritage sites that mark the local history of Evanston:

Lorraine Hairston Morton former home – 2206 Darrow Avenue

George and Maria Robinson old home – 325 Dempster Street

Butler Groceries – 1031 Sherman Avenue

Ebenezer A.M.E Church – 1813 Benson Avenue

Butler Livery Stable – 914 Davis Street

William Twiggs Print Shop – 1619 Sherman Avenue

Evanston Sanitarium – 1918 Ashbury Avenue

Tammy Gibson is a travel historian and blogger. Find her at www.sankofatravelher.com, Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr.

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