“Unforgettable,” filmmaker Susan Hope Engel’s work chronicling the 60-year history of the Emerson YMCA and its legacy and impact on Evanston’s African American community has received four accolades.   

Produced in cooperation with ECTV, the film won two 2011 Hometown Video Awards in the Professional Division, one in the “Documentary – Public Awareness” category, and one in the “Making A Difference” category. Only 6 of these awards were given to media centers in Illinois, and “Unforgettable” won two of them. 

In addition, “Unforgettable” won a coveted silver medal at the 32nd Annual Telly Awards in the History/Biography category. With nearly 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this was a considerable achievement. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and web commercials, videos and films. 

And finally, “Unforgettable” won the NAYDO (North American YMCA Development Organization) Communications Award, presented at the NAYDO Annual Conference in April. 

Though today the McGaw YMCA is one of the places in the community where residents of all races, ages and professions can come together, that was not always the case. The Emerson Branch was established in 1909 to offer programs for Black youth, which the Grove Street Branch wouldn’t permit until six decades later. For 60 years, The Emerson Y was the social hub of Evanston’s African American community and when it closed in 1969 that community suffered a great loss. This film honors the role of the Emerson Y and those founded, ran, and participated in it. To read more about the history of the Emerson Street Y, and to view the film “Unforgettable,” please visit www.mcgawymca.org, and click on the History tab.