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On the Cover

SGI-USA Chicago Buddhist Center

Photo by Susan Forner.

On the morning of October 9, 1960, Ikeda Sensei took a walk in Chicago’s Lincoln Park during his first visit to the United States. He looked on as a group of young boys played with a ball. When a Black child came along, the others ignored him. When one of them missed the ball and fell, he laughed and cheered. An elderly white man screamed at him in anger. The boy fled, humiliated.[1] Sensei started running after the boy, wanting to encourage him, but the boy was too fast.

Sensei thought to himself, “What feelings did the boy take with him as he ran off?” He vowed in his heart, “I promise you that I will build a society truly worthy of your love and pride.”[2]

This scene was commemorated 50 years later with the Peace and Justice Monument erected in Lincoln Park, which depicts two boys, one white and one Black, tossing a ball to each other.[3]

In the atrium of the SGI-USA Chicago Buddhist Center stands a replica of this monument, along with benches donated from Lincoln Park, which provide members and guests who visit the center a way to experience Sensei’s connection with Chicago.

Also found in the lobby is a model of a sailing ship depicted in an oil painting that Sensei bought after his inauguration as third Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1960. The ship sails amid fierce waves in a life-or-death struggle to overcome adversity—a reflection of Sensei’s spirit as he embarked on his first overseas voyage for kosen-rufu.[4]

The August 17, 1995, opening of the Chicago Buddhist Center was the culmination of 35 years of members’ efforts. Located in an area that has been called the “renaissance community” of Chicago,[5] the center stands on the former grounds of the Chicago Coliseum, the site where, on March 25, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of his first anti-war speeches. He said “Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace.”[6]

On January 25, 2015, the quarter-mile stretch of South Wabash Avenue where the Chicago Buddhist Center is located was named Daisaku Ikeda Way. That day, over 1,500 members and guests from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois converged on the center for the 40th anniversary of the SGI’s founding. In Sensei’s message to the event, he said, “Though we speak of world peace, this starts with our own actions in our local communities.”[7]

From the December 2023 Living Buddhism


  1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 1, pp. 155–56. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 157–61. ↩︎
  3. October 2, 2020, World Tribune, p. 36. ↩︎
  4. September 1, 1995, World Tribune, pp. 1 and 9. ↩︎
  5. May 8, 2020, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎
  6. February 13, 2016, World Tribune, p. 5. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., p. 4. ↩︎

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