Congress Passes Durbin, Duckworth Bill to Create National Heritage Area in Chicago's Bronzeville Community

Legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that at the conclusion of the 117th Congress, Congress passed their legislation to create a National Park Service (NPS) National Heritage Area in the greater Bronzeville community of Chicago.  The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Actwill create a National Heritage Area from 18th Street to the North, 71st Street to the South, Lake Michigan to the East, and Canal Street to the West—approximately five miles south of downtown. This area will tell the story of the Great Migration and how it created a city within a city—known as a Black Metropolis.

“Our bill is historic—it creates the first National Heritage Area dedicated to the story of the Great Migration.  This area includes many historical African American sites – such as Camp Douglas, the Eighth Regiment Armory, Abbot House, and the Bronzeville Walk of Fame – which created a Black Metropolis,” said Durbin.  “By passing our legislation, we honor this area that was a mecca for African American business, arts, and culture that made its impact felt across the United States.”

“I was proud to join Senator Durbin in re-introducing the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Act because it’s important for our nation to recognize the cultural and economic contributions this historically Black Chicago community made to our state and nation,” said Duckworth. “By passing our historic legislation and sending it to the President’s desk, Congress did just that—while at the same time honoring and helping preserve the rich history of African-Americans’ journey to Chicago during the Great Migration as well as the lives they built after.” 

The National Heritage Area will incorporate several significant African American sites in the area, including: Camp Douglas—a Union Army recruitment and training camp; Eighth Regiment Armory—first armory for an African American regiment; Abbot House—home of the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper; and the Bronzeville Walk of Fame—a monument to the Great Migration.

Durbin first introduced the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Act in 2016.