The Chicago Campaign and Northern Racism

An unprecedented amount of riots in urban cities throughout the country defined the summer of 1965 and the way forward for the Civil Rights Movement. The notion of peace through non-violence hadn’t broken past the South. From Los Angeles to Chicago, black Americans living in metropolitan cities felt they had met their breaking point from the persistence of police brutality, housing inequalities, and scarce job opportunities. Seeing the turmoil in the North, civil rights organizations began to shift their attention to urban regions of the country where racism was saturated in every aspect of society.

At the start of the new year in 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) sought to move their campaign for equality to Chicago, Illinois, where grassroots mobilization had begun to fight against poverty and housing discrimination in one of America’s largest and most segregated cities. At the time, Chicago was home to over a million black Americans who for decades had migrated from the South looking for the American dream. In a document known as the Chicago Plan, the SCLC outlined the importance of mobilizing a larger movement in Chicago where economic corruption had affected every aspect of life for black citizens. “The Chicago problem is simply a matter of economic exploitation. Every condition exists simply because someone profits by its existence.”

One of the major industries being exploited was the housing market. Racist housing policies excluding black families from buying or renting a livable apartments or house forced them into neighborhoods that didn’t receive comparable care and services for the amount of rent paid.  In Chicago, black people were living in slums with no prospect of moving ahead to areas where their white peers lived. With these transparent racist policies in mind, the SCLC decided to join a coalition of civil rights groups in the city under the name the Chicago Freedom Movement. Even with the best intentions, their transition into the North was met with resistance from Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley, who was reluctant to believe the city was in need of intervention from the SCLC. In his view, Chicago didn’t have racist policies written in the law like in Montgomery or Albany with Jim Crow. Because it wasn’t on paper, it must not be happening.

What Chicago had instead, were a set of cultural customs that replaced explicit laws to discriminate against black Americans. The Federal Housing Administration, outlined areas in cities where banks should feel comfortable lending mortgage loans based on property value and resident population. Neighborhoods with predominately black residents were outlined in red, meaning banks should be cautious of lending loans to residents in the area. This meant black residents were forced into the slums with slumlords who would charge higher rent, require more money upfront and would purposely allow the property to deteriorate so they wouldn’t have to pay more in property taxes (Reader, 295). For Dr. King and the SCLC, Chicago needed to mobilize citizens against these discriminatory practices that affected over a million black Americans living in the city.

In July of 1966, Dr. King led a massive march from Solider Field to the steps of City Hall demanding action from state, federal and local authorities to allow black Chicagoans the chance to escape from the economic and societal trap they have been put into from political, financial and housing institutions (Reader, 300).  With the housing inequality being one of the biggest issues that mobilized people, they planned marches into white neighborhoods that had systematically kept black families in the slums of the inner city. In neighborhoods like Gage Park, marchers came face to face with some of the most violet and egregious white protestors embellished with Swastikas and handmade explosives. Veteran Southern activists were shocked at what they experienced in Gage Park. In the south, protesters were driven by a mob mentality but in Chicago it was women and children and families who came out with bricks and homemade bombs.

The march into Gage Park was the first time Dr. King had led a march that ended in violence. While he was shaken and upset that nonviolence hadn’t prevailed, citizens of Chicago were ready, now more than ever, to continue the march into white neighborhoods. In Chicago, the neighborhood of Cicero was famous for its racial hostility and became the next destination for marchers. Clory Bryant, a resident of Chicago in 1966, she explained in the PBS documentary Eyes on The Prize how much a march into Cicero would mean a lot for the black community. “You don’t know what Cicero meant to people in Chicago. You don’t go into the viaduct, honey, because if you do, you may not get back. Cicero was on the other side of the viaduct. And you didn’t walk through Cicero alone. You didn’t let your car break down in Cicero and get out to change a tire,” Bryant said.

Dr. King was opposed to the march after he was able to negotiate a Fair Housing agreement with Mayor Bevel and the City of Chicago to make strides toward housing equality for black residents. But many saw this agreement as words on paper without any accountability for it to be enforced by state or local agencies. In defiance of Dr. King’s ultimate wishes, the march into Cicero was organized and led by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) on September 4th 1966. What set the Cicero march apart was how marchers began to fight back when bricks, eggs and rocks were thrown at them. They returned the violence.

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It was during the march into Cicero that the Civil Rights Movement, centered and created around the notion of non-violence, had to come to terms with the changing mentality among black Americans away from non-violence and toward a more aggressive approach to achieving racial equality. The Chicago campaign also allowed Dr. King and leaders in the SCLC to see how different the role racism played in the fabric of society in North versus the South. Different tactics were needed depending on the region and culture of racist practices. In the South, racist policies were written into law in the form of Jim Crow, which can be argued is easier to combat because laws can be changed just as they were made. Whereas Northern racism manifested itself in institutions that systematically chose to discriminate against black people. They were able to play the ignorance card and say these policies didn’t outright discriminate against black people and were applied to everyone. But when black people aren’t being hired for skilled jobs, can’t get a loan to buy a house so they are forced to live in neighborhoods with very few resources or an good schools for their children – it’s clear to see that the North was no different than the South. Explicit or not, the outcome was always for black people living in America.

On paper, the Chicago Plan was a failure for the SCLC. They hadn’t been able to negotiate solid demands with Mayor Daley, for the first time Dr. King had led a march that ended in violence and in Cicero marchers resorted to violence. They left Chicago no better than when they entered and some could argue even more divisive. But looking deeper into the larger effect the Chicago campaign played in the role of the greater Civil Rights Movement, it allowed our country to see how vital racial equality was for the security of our democracy. Racism wasn’t a Southern issue but an American issue that effected every community across the country.

The Cultural Importance of K-Pop

Warning: I’m about to geek out really hard on this post about my love for K-Pop.

For the last year or so I’ve been listening to music, watching Youtube videos and consuming media in a language I don’t understand – and I love every second of it.

I’ve always loved branching out in all areas of my life and consuming media outside of my cultural bubble here in the Midwest. I had heard about K-Pop through acts like PSY and his record-breaking song “Gangamn Style” in 2012. But it wasn’t until one day when I was watching a Buzzfeed video where people were reacting to Korean Pop, commonly referred to as K-Pop, music videos that I began to fully understand the enormous impact Korean music has around the world.

In the video,  “Call me Baby” by EXO was one of the featured songs people were reacting to. And I was completely enthralled. If you’ve never seen a K-Pop music video you are in for the ride of your life.

The amount of time, money and synchronized choreography was something I’ve have yet to seen in Western music. The video was a collection of what seemed like a million beautiful, well-dressed Korean men dancing their hearts out to a song I genuinely enjoyed. I played that song on rotation for weeks and it was the entrance into my journey into the world of K-Pop.

These past few months I’ve been obsessed with the K-Pop band BTS who have broken records as one of the most successful K-Pop groups to break America.

BTS, a seven-member group of Korean men in their mid-twenties, were the first K-Pop group to win a Billboard Music award in 2017 beating out acts like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez and were the most tweeted-about artist of 2017 on social media.

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BTS: J-Hope, Jin, RM, V, Jungkook, Jimin and Suga

That is unprecedented.

So, this begs the question: How does a K-Pop group like BTS that has only one member who speaks English, tap into the hearts of fans around the world?

One word: Their ARMY.

That is what their fans are called. Online they live up to their name with millions of dedicated fans who help translate their music videos, lyrics, interviews and tweets so fans around the world can enjoy their music.

My love for this genre of music has made me reflect on the importance of music to allow fans to get a outlook on a culture and country they may not have otherwise been interested in learning about. The cliche that music has no language is incredibly pertinent in the world of K-Pop.

It’s not uncommon for their fans to learn Korean, educate themselves on the culture and Korean way of life in an effort to better understand the members of their favorite band. It’s something you didn’t see many fans doing when other popular boybands like One Direction were at the height of their popularity.

Maybe it’s because the customs and culture of the U.K are more prevalent around the world. Regardless, international fans have been introduced to much more than the music of Korea – they are educating themselves about the culture and customs of a population that is wildly different than their own.

And thats a good thing. Branching outside of our cultural bubble is something we all need to do in order to expand our worldview and become more empathetic and understanding of people who are different than us. If listening to music in a different language is the entry point into an expansion of ones cultural awareness – I’m all for it.

 

 

Logan Paul: The Most Hated Man on the Internet – For Now.

If you’ve seen a broad shouldered, good-looking white dude with golden locks on your timeline recently – it was most likely Logan Paul.

On any other occasion, seeing Paul on your timeline wouldn’t be a big deal. On the internet he is a celebrity in his own right  as a bonafide “Youtuber” with over 15 million subscribers. Known on the platform as a “daily vlogger,” he records his every day life for all to see.

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President Trump: The War on Christmas is Over

While today might be a great excuse for those who celebrate Christmas to stuff their face with food, give loved ones gifts and then take a long nap on the couch – I thought I’d share a few words on the eternal battle of Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas.

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#MinorityPopulationPodcast Ep 4 – Interview w/ David McCartney University of Iowa Archivist

Weren’t around during the 1960’s but want to know what Iowa City was like? You’re in luck.

I got to interview David McCartney an archivist at the University of Iowa Special Collections. McCartney curated an online exhibit  “Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the 1960s,” which launched during the spring 2016 Social Justice Theme Semester. The exhibit features everything from civil rights activism, the anti-war movement, and other political movements of the peace and love era. Make sure to listen to our interview below and let me know what you think.

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#MinorityPopulationPodcast Ep 3 – Interview w/ Monica Stone, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights

Hello, everyone! Today I bring you another episode of the #MinorityPopulationPodcast. On this episode, I spoke with Monica Stone, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights. The department is a state government agency that works to ensure basic rights, freedoms and opportunities for all by empowering underrepresented Iowans and eliminating economic, social and cultural barriers.

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