Interview with Jesse Jackson

You determined to take a march into Cicero, perhaps one of the most frightening parts in that period for any Black person to go, a young man had been killed there-- REV.


It was an attempt to get the nation to make housing segregation illegal, to make certain that no group had the right to use racial covenants in housing, and, so as to lock people out. I mean in Chicago in 1966 there were actual operative covenants. This is Chicago, not Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia. Chicago, but there was some covenants that said a Black person can only live in the back of the big house. We had restrictive covenants plus you had red lining and real estate brokers would only show you houses in certain areas or they would do what they call block busting and simply exploit you economically. I suppose you had 25 percent of the people living on 10 percent of the land which meant that the very laws of supply and demand made slum property valuable because people were hemmed up. One concrete manifestation of that is the housing projects like State Ridge Gardens, where you got all these people living up on top of each other. All that was a part of a red lining, gerrymandering, political disenfranchisement process. Dr. King said it would take six to eight years to break it up. The press gave him six months, they said Dr. King failed. But the seeds that he sowed in 1966 germinated in Harold Washington's candidacy and victory in 1983. It took us seventeen years but you can trace it in so many ways from Dr. King's marching, Fred Hampton's assassination, the boycott in '82, Harold's victory in '83, a kind of straight line to progress and struggle.