UPDATE: While Friday’s event went on as planned, events on Saturday ended up being cancelled due to rain. But read below about Logan’s legacy as well as the plans that will be rescheduled in the future to honor Logan.
Gilo Logan, son of Bill Logan, the first Black police chief in the City of Evanston, said that, growing up, he was always taught to honor his elders.
But he gained a new level of appreciation while in the Fijian islands, staying with indigenous people there. Logan lived with a man building a home for his own father in anticipation of the elder’s transition into the next life.
“It just had an incredible impact on me to see what he was doing in preparation for the passing of his father,” Gilo told the RoundTable. “So I always said that when I came home, I wanted to do something similar for my parents. … I see myself as preparing for a peaceful death.”
This weekend, the city will celebrate former Chief Logan’s 90th birthday and his career of service in Evanston.
The festivities will include showcasing a gallery exhibit on his life at the Civic Center, naming a portion of McDaniel Avenue “William ‘Bill’ Logan Jr. Way” and dedicating Saturday’s “The Official Block Party” to Logan, featuring a drum circle at 1 p.m.
“He’s turning 90, and I wanted to be able to honor him while he’s living,” Gilo said.
Legacy of service
Logan is believed to hold a lot of firsts in Evanston, including being the first Black home room president, the first Black football captain and the first Black senior class vice president.
He joined the Evanston Police Department in 1957 and served for 30 years, becoming its first Black Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy-Chief and eventually Chief of Police. He also served as the bodyguard of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his visit to Evanston.
When he retired, he took a job as Director of Safety and Security at Evanston Township High School.
Gilo Logan described the robust imprint his father left on both institutions.
At the Police Department, Bill Logan implemented policies and practices to move the department toward community policing, building a relationship between the community and the police department.
At the high school, Gilo Logan said, his father brought a new level of professionalism to the Security Department and a new level of respect for the students instead of merely relating to them in a punitive way.
“He implemented the motor patrol for the safety staff there. That’s very common, but he brought a lot of things there, like crossing guards, telephone hotline, showed staff how to be certified [in] CPR [and] first aid,” Gilo Logan said. “That wasn’t in place before.”
The elder Logan also was a co-founder of FAAM (Fellowship of African-American Men), a middle- school-focused basketball and cheerleading nonprofit, as well as co-founding the Chessman, Evanston’s oldest Black men’s community organization.
Overall, Gilo Logan said his dad brought compassion and care to everything he did.
Honoring his father
Gilo Logan wasn’t only inspired by the indigenous ways of life that he observed while traveling, but also by the way he was always raised in his African American community.
“Our elders are reverenced. And they’re important to us,” he said. “And that was a model that I saw growing up. My parents took care of their parents and their parents took care of their parents and people in our communities.”
Logan said that although this weekend is about his dad, he wants it to encourage other Black people to own their stories.
“For too many of us, the stories aren’t passed down. We don’t know our stories, respect and appreciate our stories. We don’t preserve our stories, and hence, we don’t tell our stories,” Logan said.
“So I hope that we just can inspire other people just to own our stories.”
Aging as a blessing
The celebration begins with a 6 p.m. social hour Friday, June 24 , at Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. (capacity is limited.) There will be a 7 p.m. ceremony during which a few people will speak and Gilo Logan will pour libations for his father. Afterward, he’ll explain the artifacts from his father’s life in the gallery, which will be available for public viewing from July 1 to July 20 at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes Street (first floor).
On Saturday, June 25, it’s a full day with the street-naming and community picnic at Harbert-Payne Park, Main Street and McDaniel Avenue. These events are open to the public. Free food and activities will be provided.
- From 1 to 10 p.m. the city’s Health and Human Services and the Parks and Recreation departments as well as the local youth-serving organizations The Collective, My City, Your City, Our City (MCYCOC) will throw “The Official Block Party.”
- At 1 p.m., there will be an an hour-long jam session drum circle with West African drums and instruments open to the community. Gilo Logan will provide between 20 and 25 drums, but he also encourages community members to bring their own.
- At 2 p.m. it’s the street-naming ceremony, and
- 3 p.m the community picnic.
Aging as a blessing
How is Bill Logan doing today?
Gilo Logan says his dad is feeling humbled and appreciative of the outpouring of community love.
“I feel like he’s at peace. He’s proud,” his son said. “The community is here with him. And his health is, well, you know, he still works out five days a week.”
Read more about Bill Logan’s life.