Interview with Jane Byrne

You know I'm going to ask you then about the boycott of the Chicago Fest. How did you feel when Jesse Jackson and others--You said they wanted to boycott because they were sort of upset with you.


I didn't believe it, number one. And I didn't think that it was Jesse's original intention in any way, shape or form. He was on a talk show, I think, in Indiana. And he was not involved in it at all, as a matter of fact. But in one of those call--in shows, somebody called in and said to him on this radio show, "We ought to boycott Chicago Fest, Reverend Jackson ah, over--" I forget if it was--No. It was definitely CHA. Ah, we ought to boycott it over Mayor Byrne's actions. And he replied that might be a good idea. From that, vavoom! It was off and running. There was going to be this huge boycott. And that's exactly how it happened. And at first I thought there were no more than, than twenty people in the boycott. Now, that was it. And we said, "Fine. You can boycott it." Or my people did. And they were given an area. And Jesse was really only there maybe five, six times for the whole two weeks of Chicago Fest. His people were there. And Operation Push was there. But again, the numbers were never bigger than twenty or thirty. And I did not see this, quite frankly, as an outpouring against me of the Black community when I'd see twenty people. But what was taking place is it was being picked up on all the Black radio stations as an issue, a major, major issue. The superficiality to me of what took place there was absolutely nothing as to what was taking place in the community. Nothing. It was an effective boycott in that it stopped all Black talent from coming. The day the tickets went on sale, all the Blacks were in line to buy them. And the boycott had been announced. And they were all in line, you know, to get their tickets. Almost as if you know, we love the Fest. And it grew. Ah, so it is--People say that it, it was the turning point. And I know that it's, it, it can be said if people want to say it. Ah, to me, it, it was not the turning point. To me, it was an unfortunate situation. It was a situation that I felt bad about because it was polarizing the city in that many Whites were saying, "This is going to be the best Fest we ever went to--we won't have Blacks," which I hated. And we had ah, the Blacks responding and reacting. And it wasn't good for Chicago.