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The Eugene Williams Memorial Fundraising Committee is raising money to put a half ledger headstone at the burial site of Eugene Williams in Lincoln Cemetery on Chicago’s southside.

Eugene Williams was a black teenager whose murder in 1919 sparked Chicago’s race riots that killed 38 Chicagoans from July 27 to August 3, 1919. It was the most violent and deadly riot in Chicago’s history.

Eugene was murdered because he and some friends swam near a beach at the 29th street beach. They floated down on a little raft and rocks were thrown at them by a white man, during an ongoing dispute about access to the beach by black Chicagoans. A rock struck Eugene, and he drowned in Lake Michigan. When the man who had been throwing rocks was identified, the police refused to arrest him.

The teen’s drowning and the police’s refusal to arrest his murderer led to a week of violence throughout the south side of Chicago. In addition to the 38 deaths, 537 people were injured. The riots were only stopped when the National Guard was finally called, stationed around the city’s black belt.

Eugene Williams is buried at Lincoln Cemetery, along with other victims from the riot. There is currently no permanent memorial or headstone where he is buried. We are looking to right that wrong.

The estimate cost of the headstone, including installation, has been quoted at $4,600.00. We are partnering with the Sigma Omega Foundation to help raise the necessary funds. Sigma Omega is a local Chapter of the Omega Psi Psi Fraternity, the first predominantly African-American fraternity to be founded at a historically black university, Howard University.

The Sigma Omega Chapter was established in Chicago in 1921 for those men attending the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Sigma Omega Foundation is the outreach initiative utilized to provide services to the community. Their focus is to empower and encourage youth to excel through mentoring and tutoring programs, in an effort to uplift and promote excellence within the community. The Foundation is a tax exempt 501c(3) organization, and donations made are tax deductible.

To make a donation, please go to: or a check made payable to: Sigma Omega Foundation 6615 S. Kenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60637

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