Interview with Ed Gardner

Tell me about the little people and how things were organized and rolling before that October 5.


Well you know you keep in mind that Soft Sheen Product Company was the major corporation at that time involved in voter registration. But the work, the masses were done by the little people throughout the city of Chicago. Those were the ones who put up the streamers and stickers throughout the city. They passed out the buttons. They kept shouting, come alive, October 5. I remember one time I walked into a gas station and I wanted some gas. I paid for my gas. And the fellow said, this fellow could hardly speak his name. He wasn't the sharpest fellow in the world. He said, last thing he said, have you registered to vote? Now, you know, to me when, when I reached the, the person who you think is insignificant in this city and voting is important to him. To me and we were extremely successful. And that's what you had happen. Now certainly, ah, the middle class Blacks and, and the smaller business they got involved too. But, they got involved after the momentum started going and the momentum was really done by the masses of Black Chicagoans who did not have those big dollars. They only had the numbers and desire to change things in this city. And that was so rewarding. I think that, ah, one night, ah, the night of the registration was finally finished and we knew we had gotten the numbers in. I went by Operation Push. I was by myself driving my car. It must have been about 10 o'clock at night I guess by then. And I walked into Push and I just wanted to thank them for all the help they gave our folks in, in helping to get voter registration as successful. And they, ah, were surprised to see me at that time of night driving around. I think it was around, you know, PUSH around 48th and Wilbur, , not, not, not the, well not the worst part but kind of place where you think twice before walking into the area, say 9, 10 o'clock at night by yourself. And so, ah, when I got there, ah, they was pleased to see me and I thanked them and so forth. And they said, look we don't want you to go on back to your car by yourself Mr. Gardner and they gave me an escort back to my car, which showed this togetherness. They respected, here this Black businessman, not only has he put his dollars in, here he comes by by himself on voter registration day and, and to thank us for and we appreciate and we respect him for that. So it was a community that really respected everyone that was involved.


--We may have to get that answer again--