The town where integration worked

Fuerst, J. S.

RACIAL JUSTICE IN THE SILENT MAJORITY'S AMERICA The town where integration worked J.S. FUERST IN CHICAGO as elsewhere, the bulk of urban racial integration has taken place in middle-income,...

...His buildings, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune, were unsanitary, unclean, and unsafe...
...is not, however, what happens in the Evanstons, Hyde Parks, Highland Parks, or Glencoes...
...Another significant indicator of changing neighborhoods is fire incidence...
...In the end, however, the opposition to blacks proved limited, i.e., they weren't repeatedly driven out of their homes with clubs and torches, as happened in nearby Chicago areas...
...The realtors were followed by the bankers, who began to "redline" the area, refusing loans for purchase or home improvement...
...When additional gang activity was reported in Calumet Park, the mayor and police imposed a curfew and formed committees of parents-blacks and whites...
...FUERST IN CHICAGO as elsewhere, the bulk of urban racial integration has taken place in middle-income, professional areas -in city neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Lincoln Park, or Beverly, and in suburbs like Evanston, Oak Park, or Park Forest...
...HUD, however, here as well as in other communities, has been unwilling to take any stand, largely because of its fear of stirring up the opposition of leaders in all-black communities who believe that blacks should never be discouraged from moving into available housing regardless of the effect on integration...
...While similar ordinances had been overturned by the U.S...
...It is, moreover, integrated...
...They rehabilitated "Troublemakers' Field...
...There has been no serious drop in the market despite the racial mix...
...He has been in court and continues to be...
...In 1978, when thirty percent of the Calumet Park school population were minority youth, most of them black, the average scores of children were 3.9 in second grade and 9.2 in eighth grade-well above the national averages...
...I'm a labor scheduler at the steel mills, and sometimes I'm dead tired when I come home...
...Even more directly, after getting a home rule law passed that gave them some power to control their own destiny, the Calumet Parkers passed several ordinances...
...Passed village statutes to forbid unsightly and overgrown properties or the accumulation of garbage and trash...
...There were other similar incidents...
...Changes, however, are occurring, and Calumet Park Village,, a close-in Chicago suburb of mostly blue-collar and white-collar workers, is an important signpost of those changes...
...Third, they passed an ordinance mandating the inspection of every house or apartment when it became vacant and before it was rented or sold...
...Most of the labor force worked at International Harvester, in the steel mills, in small businesses as tiny entrepreneurs, or as civil servants...
...Another factor was the strong attachment residents felt for the community...
...Established in 1925 with 1,300 people,Calumet Park was a lily-white community...
...At the same time, the CIA created the Community Relations Commission (CRC) to help smooth the housing transition...
...At the same time, one important new factor affecting real-estate demand tends toward racial stabilization...
...Half of this one third is Latino and half black...
...The police force, though One of the largest proportionately in the area, remains small when compared with those of larger cities...
...An ordinance was passed prohibiting liquor sales to those under twenty-one...
...From an economic standpoint," says Vincent Yaeger, president of the National Bank of Blue Island, "the village is one of the best buys of any Chicago suburban community...
...From 1970 to 1980 the incidence of fires has only increased in the village along with the general incidence locally and nationally...
...Houses that were $35,000-$39,000 several years ago are now priced in the middle $50,000-range...
...The fact is that, next to most places, the village has relatively little crime...
...The conditions of the homes in the area were excellent, and loan officers were still threatening to withhold loans, obviously because of perceived racial transition...
...Supreme Court, the Calumet Park leaders believe their own situation and ordinance to be sufficiently different to escape censure...
...FUERST is assistant director of urban studies at Loyola University in Chicago...
...Other communities have followed a block-by-block racial change...
...Thus the minority proportion of the population is slowly but steadily expanding...
...My wife will say, Hey Buster, don't you have a meeting...
...CRC policy reads: "A free, open, and diverse community can be maintained by a mixture pf racial and ethnic groups...
...Calumet Park has seen a small but insignificant increase in crime statistics...
...The, actions of the Fair Housing Center have been so successful that eighty-five percent of the one hundred blocks in Calumet Park are integrated...
...The child can knock on the nearest door, and the owner promises to help...
...Another significant indicator of changing neighborhoods is fire incidence...
...In a small place like this, people can talk out problems together...
...Father Mark Dennehy, O. S. M., of the Seven Holy Founders Church, the mayor, the chairman of the city finance committee, and several other solid citizens formed a citizens committee...
...When additional gang activity was reported in Calumet Park, the mayor and police imposed a curfew and formed committees of parents-blacks and whites...
...Created...
...protection of residents against outsiders...
...But as a former Roseland resident who had to move twice to avoid living with blacks, I know the problem...
...protection of residents against outsiders...
...The parents instituted a "Helping Hand" program: volunteering families place a note in their windows offering help to any youngster set upon by a gang...
...Having first attempted to steer blacks away, some realtors then tried to "sell the hell out of the place"-both equally venal enterprises...
...They rehabilitated "Troublemakers' Field...
...Buster Porch says, "When we first moved to Calumet Park I never realized before the huge part that is played by real estate firms playing upon the fears of whites and blacks...
...By the eighth week the biggest bank capitulated, and eventually the banks promised to give $25,000 per year for a local Fair Housing Program Administration...
...This meant that anyone who wanted to sell his house had to announce it to the Community...
...Kensington, the Chicago neighborhood immediately to the north, has one of the heaviest crime rates in the city, and this accounts for much of the criminal activity in Calumet Park as well...
...In 1978, when thirty percent of the Calumet Park school population were minority youth, most of them black, the average scores of children were 3.9 in second grade and 9.2 in eighth grade-well above the national averages...
...All in all, the experience here with an increase of black youngsters has duplicated findings in thirty all-black schools on the south side of Chicago, namely that the racial make-up of the school does not, by itself, have any impact on reading scores...
...The village's record in apprehending suspects is one of the best...
...Slight additional integration has occurred in upper-income Chicagoland suburbs as well as in similar suburbs outside St...
...According to the fire chief, Patrick Baltistilla, basically there has been no rise coincident with the racial change...
...Real estate firms were not as easy to manage...
...Passed village statutes to forbid unsightly and overgrown properties or the accumulation of garbage and trash...
...Calumet Park has seen a small but insignificant increase in crime statistics...
...This," said Ted Davia, "informed the Fair Housing Commission and the Housing Center if there were a sensitive block, and allowed the community to try to do something to remedy it...
...You just can't keep on moving...
...BY 1973, WHEN BLACKS had increased to perhaps four percent of the population, several community leaders organized a Community Improvement Association (CIA...
...A slum landlord has managed to get possession of eighteen buildings and, in the guise of opening up new areas to blacks, rented them all to minorities...
...At the same time, one important new factor affecting real-estate demand tends toward racial stabilization...
...Presently fifteen percent of the people are Spanish-American (mainly Mexican), and this percentage of new buyers and renters is increasing...
...Unlike many people of the same background in Berwyn and Cicero, Davia and a like-minded group of middle-class workers took a strong stand in support of civil rights and stuck by it...
...In Chicago, no one counts unless you have a lot of money...
...Presently fifteen percent of the people are Spanish-American (mainly Mexican), and this percentage of new buyers and renters is increasing...
...From 1970 to 1980 the incidence of fires has only increased in the village along with the general incidence locally and nationally...
...So far he has not been halted, but the fight is continuing...
...I found out that some real estate salesmen, black and white, have been compelled by their firms to make 30 to 50 phone calls a day to unsuspecting neighborhood families, telling them, 'This is your last chance to get top dollars for your home.' " It was in fact when bank loan officers told would-be white buyers, like Linda Hanna, "We're sorry but we don't make loans in Calumet Park because it's not a healthy neighborhood," that the community mobilized into action against bank redlining...
...According to Tom Zielinski, police chief, over ninety percent of the crimes committed in Calumet Park are done by youngsters or adults from outside the district...
...By 1980 when forty-five percent of the children were from minority groups, the eighth-grade, scores dropped to 8.6, still slightly above the national median, the second grade dropped less...
...It costs too much money...
...All in all, the experience here with an increase of black youngsters has duplicated findings in thirty all-black schools on the south side of Chicago, namely that the racial make-up of the school does not, by itself, have any impact on reading scores...
...THE FOUR MOST significant indicators of an area's ability to negotiate successfully a period of racial transition are crime, incidence of fires, quality of education, and the state of commercial activities...
...Because of more awareness among police and parents, more crimes, even minor ones, may be reported in Calumet Park...
...In terms of real estate, what have the efforts of the Calumet Parkers yielded...
...These buildings, moreover, are concentrated in the only area of Calumet Park where there is already some concentration of blacks...
...More significantly, when the most recent newcomers to the system (children who had been in the system less than two years) were dropped from the calculations, the 1980 eighth-grade scores Field" into a sorely needed sports park...
...Black residents seem to feel the same way...
...In terms of real estate, what have the efforts of the Calumet Parkers yielded...
...Mary Sosnowski adds, "We have more freedom compared to the city...
...Previously, in ethnic afeas of Chicago like Chatham, Auburn-Gresham, Roseland, or Fuller Park, when blacks moved in, whites have moved out...
...With minority youngsters now filling forty-five percent of the seats in schools, the schools have continued to show good reading scores in the eighth grade and in the second grade...
...The village has also taken a number of positive steps: Put in additional street lights of an improved variety...
...And I have to get up and drag myself to the meeting...
...As a result the CIA was able to mobilize...
...Many were second-generation Americans - Polish, Irish, Italian, or Slavic...
...One Calumet Parker, for instance, made no claims to freedom from racial prejudice: "I'm a plain second-generation Irishman...
...Both black and white communities welcome this, whites because it seems that the growing number of Mexican-Americans makes it less likely that the area will become all black, and blacks because many of them recognize the Mexicans as a buffer between blacks and whites...
...One-third of the officers are members of minority groups...
...And this integration is remarkably even throughout the village, with blacks generally constituting less than twenty percent of the residents in any one block...
...Not even all these "defensive" measures to ward off destabilizing realtors and bankers are enough to keep a community like Calumet Park integrated...
...In point of fact, the number of fires in 1980 was up only slightly from 1970, and for the first seven months of 1981 was less than for 1980...
...Real-estate prices in Calumet Park have continued to rise...
...The parents instituted a "Helping Hand" program: volunteering families place a note in their windows offering help to any youngster set upon by a gang...
...The police force, though One of the largest proportionately in the area, remains small when compared with those of larger cities...
...It is, moreover, integrated...
...This fee assures the village that no sales take place without its knowledge...
...The first was "an intent to sell" rule...
...Within little more than a one- or two-year period, the neighborhoods have become all-black...
...The village, afraid that this will erode the general pattern of integration, has brought suits against the landlord and has asked help from HUD...
...Both black and white communities welcome this, whites because it seems that the growing number of Mexican-Americans makes it less likely that the area will become all black, and blacks because many of them recognize the Mexicans as a buffer between blacks and whites...
...Real-estate prices in Calumet Park have continued to rise...
...According to the fire chief, Patrick Baltistilla, basically there has been no rise coincident with the racial change...
...From an economic standpoint," says Vincent Yaeger, president of the National Bank of Blue Island, "the village is one of the best buys of any Chicago suburban community...
...Most of them were relocatees from Chicago's south side, people who, in their thirties and with growing children, moved from the city during the 1950s...
...Despite these pressures, Calumet Park has survived as an integrated community because of people like Ted Davia...
...What this seems to mean is that police here serve the same function as in many other suburbs...
...In Calumet Park many brokers operated from all over the south side...
...Half of this one third is Latino and half black...
...The realtor had to close his business...
...Houses that were $35,000-$39,000 several years ago are now priced in the middle $50,000-range...
...Created...
...The significant development for the U.S...
...Finally, they levied a municipal transfer tax of one dollar on every sale...
...Second, they passed an ordinance blocking advertising of houses for sale...
...There has been no serious drop in the market despite the racial mix...
...Thus the minority proportion of the population is slowly but steadily expanding...
...Done extensive sidewalk replacement...
...Four hundred people picketed a real estate office that was engaged in blockbusting...
...They have signed "no steering agreements" with many real estate firms - pledges to refrain from deliberating directing black or white homeseekers to certain areas in order to reinforce or exacerbate pressure toward segregation...
...The village's record in apprehending suspects is one of the best...
...The citizens decided to act...
...In fact, there is considerable intermarriage between whites and Mexicans and more than a little between Mexicans and blacks...
...Converted a swampland known as "Troublemakers' Field" into a sorely needed sports park...
...The, actions of the Fair Housing Center have been so successful that eighty-five percent of the one hundred blocks in Calumet Park are integrated...
...Louis,Cleveland, and New York...
...Here I can call up the mayor, Ron Romanowski, and say, Hey Ron, I don't like the way the garbage is being picked up, or the library is run, and Ron will listen and look into it.And believe me, I attend meetings...
...The family of a black marine sergeant who arrived in 1972 was subject to several attacks-and moved out...
...In 1975, this CIA founded the Calumet Park Housing Center whose goal has been the attainment of a viable stabilized housing market within the community-in short, to assist all buyers and sellers of homes (and renters of apartments) on a non-discriminatory basis...
...The CIA and the Fair Housing Commission have continued to pursue real estate firms all over the south suburban area that are similarly engaged...
...An ordinance was passed prohibiting liquor sales to those under twenty-one...
...Buster Porch says,' 'I lived on the south side of Chicago before I came here...
...a rehabilitation fund of $75,000 from federal, state, and county moneys, to provide loans so that owners of one- and two-ifamilyjhouses can meet a minimum code for the condition of therre property...
...Our] chosen moral goals include integration, no resegregation...
...What this seems to mean is that police here serve the same function as in many other suburbs...
...It is the challenge of making racial integration work in the America of the silent majority...
...I have the same prejudices as everyone else...
...In spite of fair housing legislation and a quarter-century of civil-rights campaigning, the mere possibility of black residents provokes anger and overt hostility...
...The arrival of blacks did set off a flurry of real estate activity...
...And this integration is remarkably even throughout the village, with blacks generally constituting less than twenty percent of the residents in any one block...
...Probably something like seventy-five percent of the relatively small number of houses currently put up for sale go to minority purchasers, with only about twenty-five percent being bought by whites...
...In fact, there is considerable intermarriage between whites and Mexicans and more than a little between Mexicans and blacks...
...When a problem comes up, you can reach the mayor or any public figure...
...The red carpet treatment and the key to the city were hardly extended to the newcomers...
...So far it has...
...Four million dollars worth of savings were pledged to be withdrawn from the banks, and for eight successive weeks the people withdrew $25,000 a week...
...The child can knock on the nearest door, and the owner promises to help...
...According to Tom Zielinski, police chief, over ninety percent of the crimes committed in Calumet Park are done by youngsters or adults from outside the district...
...The National Association of Realtors insists that every realtor should be free to sell where and when he wishes...
...Everyone is going to have to work together to find a solution, and that solution is not violence or white flight...
...THE FOUR MOST significant indicators of an area's ability to negotiate successfully a period of racial transition are crime, incidence of fires, quality of education, and the state of commercial activities...
...One-third of the officers are members of minority groups...
...More significantly, when the most recent newcomers to the system (children who had been in the system less than two years) were dropped from the calculations, the 1980 eighth-grade scores...
...Because of more awareness among police and parents, more crimes, even minor ones, may be reported in Calumet Park...
...The fact is that, next to most places, the village has relatively little crime...
...By 1970, Calumet Park had 10,000 people and soon thereafter its first black residents...
...a rehabilitation fund of $75,000 from federal, state, and county moneys, to provide loans so that owners of one- and two-ifamilyjhouses can meet a minimum code for the condition of therre property...
...We have not...
...Calumet Park has been a great enlightenment for me...
...Even in the beginning, working for integration seemed a good thing," he says, "We've seen a lot of change but it's for the better...
...Kensington, the Chicago neighborhood immediately to the north, has one of the heaviest crime rates in the city, and this accounts for much of the criminal activity in Calumet Park as well...
...In 1970 the median income ($ 12,500) placed the area about nineteenth of thirty-three areas in the south suburbs, the poorer suburban sector...
...Quite clearly the major problem has been one of real estate and mortgages...
...With minority youngsters now filling forty-five percent of the seats in schools, the schools have continued to show good reading scores in the eighth grade and in the second grade...
...On the other hand, in areas like Cicero or Oak Forest-western and southern suburbs-or in city ethnic areas like Bogen and Bridgeport, blacks have not significantly cracked the racial barriers...
...Davia, the Fair Housing Administrator of the village, was a union steward for the Marble Cutters Local 23, a full-fledged member of the musicians' union, and a twenty-year resident of Calumet Park...
...This, of course, was redlining of the most virulent kind...
...Stan Powlinsky, who works for Ashland Oil in Chicago, also moved from Roseland some twenty-four years ago...
...Probably something like seventy-five percent of the relatively small number of houses currently put up for sale go to minority purchasers, with only about twenty-five percent being bought by whites...
...In point of fact, the number of fires in 1980 was up only slightly from 1970, and for the first seven months of 1981 was less than for 1980...
...WHILE THESE ordinances encourage the maintenance of housing stock and limit the number of panic sales, not everything is upbeat...
...By 1980 when forty-five percent of the children were from minority groups, the eighth-grade, scores dropped to 8.6, still slightly above the national median, the second grade dropped less...

Vol. 109 • June 1982 • No. 11


 
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