Located in the Auburn Gresham community, Mahalia Jackson Park totals1.41 acres and features two ball fields, two basketball courts and a tennis court. This is a non-staffed location. For Chicago Park District programming, please visit West Chatham Park.
Mahalia Jackson (1911 – 1972), was a gospel singer who, during her lifetime, became famous throughout the world for her beautiful warm contralto voice. Born in New Orleans, her family exposed her to the city’s influential jazz and blues musicians such as Ma Rainey and King Oliver. Jackson moved to Chicago with a maternal aunt, Hannah Robinson. She had hoped to become a nurse, but found employment instead as a laundress. The following year, she became a member of the Johnson Gospel Singers, who performed at Baptist churches, festivals, and church conventions. After the group broke up in the 1930’s, she became associated with minister and pioneering gospel musician Thomas A. Dorsey. In 1937, she cut her first album on the Decca label, which hadn’t previously recorded gospel music. Her career began to take off about a decade later, when her hit “Move on up a Little Higher” sold nearly two million copies. She went on to record with Apollo Records and Columbia Records who in 1953 billed Jackson as “The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer.” In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Jackson played an important role in the Civil Rights movement. In 1961, she sang at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. She also helped organize and sang at several rallies and benefits in which Dr. Martin Luther King spoke. Park 386 is only four blocks away from Jackson’s home at 8358 S. Indiana which she purchased in 1956.