Quantcast

Celebration to remember Emerson ‘Y’

Over 400 people are expected to gather next month to honor the history of Evanston’s Emerson Street Branch YMCA.

A 1964 photo of the Emerson YMCA.

Over 400 people are expected to gather next month to honor the history of Evanston’s Emerson Street Branch YMCA.

A 1964 photo of the Emerson YMCA.

Brought into being after the Rev. James Talley’s 1908 request that African-American young men be admitted to the Grove Street Y was rejected, the Emerson Street Branch YMCA became an anchor for the social and civic life of Evanston’s African-American community from 1909 to 1969.

Talley became the first executive secretary of the branch, which built its headquarters on Emerson in 1912 after a thee-day fundraising campaign in the community raised $5,350 to cover the construction cost.

After decades, racial segregation was gradually brought to an end at the Y, and in 1969 the Emerson branch closed.

But the closure left a gap in opportunities for leadership and athletic development in the community that many black residents of Evanston mourned.

At the dinner on Saturday, May 22, guests are scheduled to include members of the Rev. Talley’s family; Barbara Boyd, wife of Ted Boyd who was the head of the Emerson Street Branch Y from 1955-1962; Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl; former mayor Lorraine Morton, who met her husband at the Emerson Street Branch Y, and many others.

The evening, part of the 125th anniversary celebration for Evanston’s McGaw YMCA, will also include the debut screening of “Unforgettable Legacy” a film by Susan Hope Engel documenting the history of the Emerson ‘Y.’
 

Editors’ Picks