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Evanston honors life and legacy of Bill Logan, city’s first Black police chief

Gilo Logan, son of Bill Logan, the first Black police chief in the City of Evanston, says 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 some 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.

Bill Logan, the first Black police chief in Evanston, is shown here.

“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 Bill 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 by 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.

The gallery exhibit can be viewed by the public at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center from July 1-20.

A Legacy of Service at Evanston

Logan is believed to hold a lot of firsts in Evanston, including as the first Black homeroom president, the first Black football captain and the first Black senior class vice president.

William “Bill” Logan Jr. and family are seen on March 28 after the City Council approved designating a portion of McDaniel Avenue in Logan’s honor. Credit: Heidi Randhava

He joined the Evanston Police Department in 1957 and served for 30 years before retiring to a different job, 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 said, his father brought a new level of professionalism to the security department and brought a new level of respect for the students, instead of merely relating to them in a punitive way.

“I know that 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, staff showed 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-founder of the Chessman, Evanston’s oldest Black male 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.”

Meeting with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, third from left, are, from left, Rose Logan (Chief Logan’s mother), Chief (then Captain) William Logan, Marcia Logan (Chief Logan’s wife) and their son Billy (front row), daughter Cheryl, and son Gilo. (Photo courtesy of the Logan family)

Logan said that although this weekend is about his dad, he wants it to encourage other Black people to “own our story.”

“For too many of us, the stories aren’t passed down. We don’t know our stories, you know, 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.”

Celebration details

The celebration begins with a 6 pm social hour June 24 at The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on Friday, but capacity is limited. There will be a ceremony during which Gilo Logan will pour libations for his father and a few people will speak. Afterward, he’ll explain the artifacts in the gallery, which are from his father’s life.

On Saturday, the honorary street-naming and community picnic will commence. The City’s Health and Human Services Department, Parks and Recreation Department and local youth-serving organizations known as The Collective, My City, Your City, Our City (MCYCOC) are throwing The Official Block Party from 1 pm to 10 pm

At 1 pm, there will be an interactive drum circle with West African drums and instruments open to the community. Gilo Logan will provide between 20 and 25 drums, and encourages community members to bring their own for an hour-long jam session. The street-naming ceremony will be at 2 pm, and the community picnic is at 3 pm

Bill Logan with an award from the Evanston Police Department. (Photo by Les Jacobson)

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 in this RoundTable article.

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