Interview with Jane Byrne

Well, let's take that issue.


Ah, it was done two ways. There was a Black director appointed, all right? No, there were, there were--I inherited a board with terms. All right? With, with terms. Each one of them. And there was one Black on it, as I recall, two Whites and a community member who was Black. And that was like officio, ex-officio. And the projects were not being run very well. And I didn't make the switch to put those two White women on that you will always hear about until after I lived there. And after I saw that it was a very, very woman-dominated society. And that by virtue of the structure, very few husbands or fathers lived in the projects. And I wanted to put women on the board, and one was Black, who could relate to the women and the sufferings that were going on in there. And I didn't uh--I, I didn't think that was wrong. Ah, I felt--But that became an issue that I was putting down Black men because I made the statement. And it didn't change the facts to me that it's true. And the way that women would empathize and one had been a s--ah, an acting superintendent of schools, education was horrible in the projects. Recreation or a place to study was horrible. And I saw those things. And quite frankly, I didn't think that the men had done that great a job, Black or White. They'd been there. And I thought, this woman, you know, this, this ah, superintendent, former su-superinten--acting superintendent, she cared about kids. And I'm going to tell you very candidly, I knew that a lot of the older kids, that were in the gangs, the high school ones and, and beyond, nobody was going to be able to help them very much. But if you could save this next generation and turn things around such as we did by going in there and creating the ba-basketball teams and the baseball teams and competition, and paint-outs and all the different things that took place, and stop the drugs, which is what the killings were all about. If you could do that and you could do that throughout the projects, you're starting a base because nothing else worked. And if by putting women who were educators on it could bring about an interest to those children to go