Leonard's memorial, sponsored byChicago American Veterans for Equal Rights president Jim Darby and his partner Patrick Bova, was chosen from all the others to be featured during the tented dedication ceremony which included remarks by representatives of Illinois’ governor and Chicago’s mayor. His proud nieces, Vicki Walker and Pam Sanders, were among those who watched it unveiled, via closed-circuit TV, as a color guard made up of gay veterans stood attention while two trumpeters from the Lakeside Pride Band played "Taps."
[Left photo by Hal Baim/Windy City Times. Right photo: Jim Darby, Vicki Walker, Michael Bedwell, Pam Sanders, Patrick Bova]
The Legacy Project is the brainchild of activist Victor Salvo, brought to fruition only after years of major fundraising, selection of honorees, design creation, and countless meetings with multiple city departments. In addition to Leonard, the first memorials dedicated in 2012 included gay martyr and Korean War-era Navy veteran Harvey Milk, British WWII Nazi-code breaker Alan Turing, iconic activist Barbara Gittings, civil rights legend Bayard Rustin, physician and founder of the Women's Naval Reserves Dr. Margaret Chung, sexologist Dr. Alfred Kinsey, writers James Baldwin, Reinaldo Arenas, and Oscar Wilde, transgender pioneer Christine Jorgensen (who served in the US Army pre-transition as George William Jorgensen, Jr.), social justice pioneer Jane Addams, Puerto Rican activist/educator Dr. Antonia Pantoja, choreography great Alvin Ailey, artists Keith Haring and Frida Kahlo, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and the Two Spirit People of Native American/Canadian First Nation tribes. Five new memorials were dedicated on October 11th, 2013, including, next to him, Leonard's mentor Frank Kameny, the father of the modern gay rights movement, iconic American poet Walt Whitman, Raisin in the Sun playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Gay Games founder Dr. Tom Waddell, and longtime Detroit activist Ruth Ellis. Memorials added in 2016 brought the total to 37.
Illuminated at night.
Leonard side-by-side once again with his mentor Frank Kameny.
Through field trips to the Walk and interactive lesson plans for teachers and students, the amazing Legacy Project Education Initiative [LPEI] is bringing the stories of these and other LGBT heroes to new generations in Illinois public schools.
For an online interactive online map to the location of Leonard's and Frank's memorials and others, as well as full images of their memorials, or to download for printing click on the photo below.
The Legacy Wall is a traveling interactive exhibit created to raise awareness of the multiple contributions LGBTQ people have made to shared human history, to provide historically significant role models for LGBTQ youth, and to lessen the incidence of bullying in schools and communities by encouraging a culture of mutual respect. Each component includes a QR code for accessing further information online about each subject via smartphone. To arrange an installation near you, write firstname.lastname@example.org.