For Immediate Release
May 24, 2021
Contact Information

Chandra Cooper
Proprietor and Great Granddaughter of Muddy Waters


Attempts to stall Landmark nomination

(Black PR Wire) CHICAGO, May 24, 2021 – Until 4th Ward Alderwoman Sophia King interfered, Chandra Cooper has enjoyed a supportive and collaborative relationship with the City of Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, Preservation Chicago, and other community and City officials as she works tirelessly to restore the legacy of her Great Grandfather Muddy Waters through the renovation and restoration of his historic Bronzeville home, now known as the Muddy Waters MOJO Museum.

The Muddy Waters home was on its way to a Landmark nomination at the June 3, 2021 Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting, but that decision was disrupted by Ald. King, who insisted that the home be pulled from the Commission’s upcoming agenda.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the MOJO Museum a $50,000 grant from its prestigious African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. A non-profit was formed to oversee development and operations. The world is celebrating a future for a museum honoring Muddy Waters, whose influence can be seen by rock and roll and music legends around the world like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Jimi Hendrix and more.

None of the usual barriers to development threatened the progress of the MOJO Museum – no difficult contractors, rising costs, or even COVID-19 complications. Only a call from Chicago’s first Black City Council member hand-picked by President Barack Obama and strongly supported by his best friend Dr. Marty Nesbitt would bring the storied development to a halt.

Once again, Ald. King took steps to slow or halt a Black house museum without ever talking to owners, organizers, or stakeholders. She introduced a house museum ban ordinance in March that led to the formation of the Chicago Black House Museum Coalition, whose goal is to help change the face of Chicago from the murder capital to the cultural renaissance capital that celebrates the wealth of Black culture in the great City of Chicago.

“Until the issue of the property zoning change uncovered consistent institutional efforts to dismantle and destroy the smaller, authentic Black culture museums, no one ever knew our very existence was under attack, said Dr. Lyn Hughes, Founder of the 26-year-old National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum located in the Pullman National Monument. “That single action birthed recognition of the need for a protective organization for small museums. I am extremely proud to be among the founding members of the Chicago Black House Museum Coalition, and we intend to be a protective force in the museum community.”

Ms. Cooper has overcome great odds to develop plans to finance the building’s restoration and develop a museum and interpretation center that honors her great grandfather, born McKinley Morganfield, and serves as an inspiration to future music makers. This latest attack has been especially taxing on Cooper.

"I'm calling on everyone around the world who has been influenced by my Great Grandfather Muddy Waters to help us put a stop to this unfounded interference coming from Ald. King's office,” said Cooper. “My Great Grandfather loved the City of Chicago, the culture and its people. This great city inspired his music and helped him to impact the world with his talent. He would be very proud of what we have accomplished and what we are working to do in his honor."

The Muddy Waters MOJO Museum would like to acquire the adjacent City-owned parcel that has been vacant for at least 20 years. Ald. King blocked that as well.

In contrast, the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley home in West Woodlawn has had great community and aldermanic support to bring its vision to reality. Blacks in Green™, a national sustainability non-profit headquartered blocks away from the Till Home, acquired the property in October 2020. 20th Ward Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor endorsed the Landmark nomination for the Till family home, facilitated the acquisition of a City-owned vacant lot adjacent to the home, and has been a vocal supporter of plans to develop a museum there.

“Authentic African American heritage and culture is one of the world’s most highly prized assets – inspiring millions of everyday people on every continent and activating esteemed curators and collectors worldwide,” noted Blacks in Green™ CEO Naomi Davis. “It’s triggered trillions in tourism and commodity dollars for art and artifacts and driven profit-making globally – except not so much for its black creators. Now, with Black Chicago poised to control and capitalize its own story, why in the world would a black woman use her special powers to thwart the leveling of this playing field?”  

Chicago has a cross-cultural and diverse coalition of advocates committed to elevating and honoring our city’s extraordinary Black history and culture. Why isn’t Alderwoman King willing to let that happen?

Support the MOJO Museum in honor of the great Muddy Waters.