Judge Otto Kerner dedicated the cornerstone for the Medical Clinic and Survey Building of the Suburban Cook County Tuberculosis Sanitarium District (7556 Jackson Blvd.) on Sept. 15, 1957. 

Designed by Lundsrom & Skubic, Chicago engineers, the two-story, reinforced-concrete structure has an aluminum exterior skin with porcelain panes and continuous thermopane windows. Always used as an office, without housing, it is now the administrative headquarters of the Cook County Department of Public Health and also has offices for Communicable Disease.

Otto Kerner served as Governor of Illinois from 1961 to 1969. He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 to chair the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commision), which was a milestone in American civil rights.  Kerner’s assessment at the time, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” The bestselling, 426-page report, identified the root of economic and social inequalities as bigotry and injustice caused by racism when it came out in early 1968. 

Martin Luther King Jr. praised the findings: “We must guarantee that in this richest society in history, the poor, too, can find comfort and security and decent jobs and respect. It is time to re-order our national priorities. If we as a society fail, I fear we will learn very shortly that racism is a sickness unto death.”

Jill Wagner