Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston’s ‘Seeds of Change’ theme inspires unity at Fourth of July parade

Emerson Swift
Parade participants from Evanston Latinos hold a sign to celebrate the celebration’s “Seeds of Change” theme.

Every Fourth of July, Evanston residents crowd Central Street for the city’s award-winning parade, bolstered by community organizations and contributors. Bands march to lively tunes, classic cars and colorful floats glide past, while onlookers — decked in patriotic reds and blues — cheer on.

But beyond the spectacle lies a deeper purpose. Themed ‘Seeds of Change’ by the Evanston Fourth of July Association, this year’s parade reflected the holiday’s themes of liberation, independence and liberty applied to current issues, 83-year-old trustee Sam Sibley said.

“We need to pull in the entire community,” Sibley said. “Other places have a lot of support, but Evanston needs to have everyone brought in on these problems.”

At the heart of this year’s event was grand marshal Robin Rue Simmons, founder of FirstRepair — an organization dedicated to making reparations in Black communities. A native of Evanston’s segregated past, Rue Simmons said she felt honored to represent her hometown during the festivities. 

“The Fourth of July in Evanston is our most united day,” Rue Simmons said. “Families, intergenerational community members, organizations and businesses show up as our best, united selves.”

Local service groups and nonprofits in the parade, such as the Woman’s Club of Evanston and Evanston Latinos, marched alongside global humanitarian organization Rotary Club of Evanston. Established in Evanston in 1905, Rotary has continued its legacy of community service, focusing on youth programs and local partnerships.

Jose Lopez, president of the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club, was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Evanston two years ago. A longstanding advocate of community service, Lopez first engaged with Rotary during its initiatives in his hometown. Since settling in the U.S., the 77-year-old has volunteered for his local branch. 

“The role is to continue being the seeds of change,” Lopez said. “Our thing is Rotary magic. With little effort and a lot of collaboration, you get things done in communities that need service, such as clean water, health issues and improvement in the hospital.”

In addition to humanitarian services, Lopez said his organization has worked to foster diversity and inclusion in the Evanston community.

“Rotary itself is doing as much as possible to make sure everyone has a voice,” Lopez said. “In Evanston, we encourage welcoming anyone that comes in the door.”

Rue Simmons said she wanted the community to understand how the legacy of the Fourth of July impacts Evanston.

“My message today to my neighbors is that we hold on to this day and this feeling of democracy, liberation and justice after today,” Rue Simmons said. “We want the values of the Fourth of July to be carried out every day, especially when our democracy is being challenged right now as a nation. Today is a great day to center ourselves in what we value in Evanston and continue being a national leader in peace, unity and love.”


Email: [email protected]

 X: @connorjtang

Connor Tang is a student in the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute this summer. 

Related stories:

Stars, Stripes and Smudge-Proof Makeup: How Performers Beat the Heat at Evanston’s Fourth of July Parade

Volunteer leadership ensures Evanston’s Fourth of July celebration shines bright

Captured: Crowds Flood Central Street for Evanston’s Fourth of July Parade


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