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The Mechanics
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Event Thu Mar 10 2011

Honoring the Life of Clarence Darrow and More

DARROW.GIF
(Photo from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law faculty project page)

For more than 50 years, Chicagoans have gathered every March 13 in Jackson Park to commemorate the life of Clarence Darrow, a famed Chicago attorney who strongly opposed capital punishment. This Sunday, supporters will gather outside Jackson Park once again at 10 a.m. But this year, in addition to remembering Darrow's life and his missions, supporters will also be celebrating Governor Quinn's signing of legislation to end capital punishment in Illinois.

Darrow, who was also a passionate advocate of labor unions, was born in 1857 in Farmdale, Ohio. He practiced law in Chicago for most of his career, "representing union activists, underdog causes and vigorously opposing capital punishment," according to a press release about his life. He died on March 13, 1938. In 1957, the Chicago Park District dedicated The Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park in his memory.

jacksonpark.jpg

On Sunday, Darrow admirers will attend an outdoor wreath-throwing ceremony behind the Museum of Science and Industry. Supporters will then gather inside the Museum's Columbian Room for a discussion about Darrow and his efforts to protect human rights. Long-time civil-rights attorneys Edward Mogul and his niece Joey Mogul will speak at the event.

In an editorial about Quinn's signing of Wednesday's legislation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board quoted Darrow "in his epic 12-hour closing statement in his defense of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in the most famous murder trial ever held in Illinois."

You can read Darrow's closing statement here, and some of his other speeches here.

For many, Darrow's opening remarks from that day, quoted in the Post-Dispatch, still resonate almost a century later:

This world has been one long slaughterhouse from the beginning until today, and killing goes on and on and on, and will forever. Why not read something, why not study something, why not think instead of blindly shouting for death?...Do you think you can cure the hatreds and the maladjustments of the world by hanging them? You simply show your ignorance and your hate when you say it. You may here and there cure hatred with love and understanding, but you can only add fuel to the flames by cruelty and hate.

 
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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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Editor: Mike Ewing, mike@gapersblock.com
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