Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Shakespeare famously asked, "What's in a name?" In Dr. Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan's case, it turns out, a lot.
Gilo's Evanston roots are deep--four generations precede him, and his three young sons follow him. But he also has wide wings that have taken him around the world on many years' worth of immersive experiences that have challenged, changed, defined, and influenced him: how he sees himself; what he calls himself; and how he sees Evanston, race, and humanity.
Gilo lives in Evanston's fifth ward with his wife Miah Logan and their children. He is a well-known figure around town with his flowing dreads and friendly demeanor. He is the second son of William Logan, Jr., Evanston's first Black police chief.
With a BA in marketing, a master’s degree in elementary education, and a doctorate in adult and continuing education, you may well have participated in a town hall about race, diversity, and inclusion that Gilo has facilitated with the Evanston Police Department, Enrich Evanston, Dear Evanston, and many other Evanston organizations.
We sat down to chat at Curt's Cafe South. Here's some of our conversation that spanned his Evanston history, his thoughts about race and racism, and what makes him who he is.
As President of Logan Consulting Services, a global consultancy firm, Gilo's mission is to help leaders, organizations, teams, and individuals develop leadership skills to succeed in an increasingly complex and global society.
DE: Tell me about your family's history in Evanston.
GL: So on my father’s side we come from Greenwood South Carolina. My grandfather, William Logan, came when he was a child in 1905. His mother, known as Mama Logan, brought him up here.
His father, Charlie Logan, stayed behind. I don't know why. During that time, there were lots of lynchings happening. It’s not like my great-grandfather was being lynched, not that we know of - but just because of the lynchings and oppression - there were busloads of folks who came together to Evanston from Abbeville, Greenwood, and other places in South Carolina.
DE: Do you literally mean busloads?
GL: Literally busloads.
My grandfather William and Rose Powell had three children, one of them being my dad, William Logan, Jr., the former police chief. My dad had three kids: my older brother William Logan III; my sister, Cheryl; then me. I also have a cousin Cheryl Logan. She works at Family Focus Evanston. She’s married to Kevin Brown [he's the manager of the City's Youth and Young Adult Division].
DE: And then on your mom’s side?
So there’s my mother, Marcia Logan, whose maiden name was Barksdale. She had a brother Howard. He was also a police officer in Evanston. Their mother, my grandmother, was Ruth Cromer (whose brother, my great-uncle Cornell, was also a police officer in Evanston. I was named after him). My mother’s father, Papa, passed away young – before I was born. His name was William Cromer.
My great-grandmother's name was Helen Cromer. Her maiden name was Cornell. We call her Jinky. She came to Evanston as a child in 1895 with her mother Ellen.
They came from Canada, through Windsor, and I’m still kind of researching this, but – to my knowledge - they descended from African Americans who had escaped through the Underground Railroad to Canada. When slavery was abolished, they ended up coming back here to the North Shore. One sibling went to Chicago, one stayed in Evanston, and one went to Glencoe, so the black folks in Glencoe--that’s also our family. They have St. Paul AME Church in Glencoe, which is the oldest African American church on the North Shore. It was established in 1884.
DE: Growing up, what kind of a kid were you? what kind of life did you lead? Where did you grow up?
GL: I grew up in the second ward in the house I lived in all my life until the house I live in now in the fifth ward. Other than traveling overseas, I’ve lived in two houses my whole life.
I was born at Community Hospital, delivered into the world by Dr. Elizabeth Hill who also delivered my mother, father, brother, and sister. I went to Ms. Marshall’s nursery school, which was a Black nursery school, then to Washington, Chute, and Evanston Township High School (ETHS).
My mom’s family was considered an affluent Black family, whereas my father’s family was poor. My parents started out very much a working class, mainstream, conservative African American family.
DE: What did your mom do?
GL: For many years, she stayed at home raising her three kids and helping to raise her three nieces and nephews. She was the primary caregiver. Once I went to h