FLOAT (MAP 2019)



July 27, 1919: Chicago’s beaches remain unofficially segregated, and a black teen, Eugene Williams, gently floats into an area along the Lake Michigan beach, which is primarily used by whites. He drifts across an invisible race line. Williams is brutally stoned and drowned by a group of white teenagers.

His death, and the Chicago police department’s refusal to take action against his attackers, prompted nearly two weeks of rioting and violence between black and white mobs in Chicago. White mobs torched and destroyed hundreds of black homes and businesses. Over a thousand black families were made homeless, 537 black people were injured, and close to 40 were killed. I will invite hundreds of local people to honor Eugene by peacefully drifting across a historic invisible racial barrier using beautiful black ‘doughnut’ inflatables crafted specifically for this event, reactivating and memorializing a site of violence against black youth one hundred years prior. This interracial crowd will then come out of the water and proceed into the city in a processional, finally arriving at a meeting point in which there will be food, conversation and reflection. The performance will happen on the Lake at the moment of Eugene’s drowning.


AJ McClenon // Facebook

Jefferson Pinder