Interview with Lu Palmer

Describe the battle over CHA, Chicago Housing Authority appointments, story of your arrest.


Well when you realize that Chicago Housing Authority tenants are easily 90 to 95% Black, it was just outrageous that, that Jane Byrne, the mayor then, would shift the complexion of the CHA Board. Ah, a group of us went to the first meeting of these new Board members and, ah, we created a little confusion down there. And, ah, at the time that I was arrested, I wasn't doing anything. I was just sitting against the wall with my hands crossed and all of a sudden, ah, I was grabbed, handcuffed, along with, oh, six or seven women, I was the only man in this and they threw us in jail for, ah, ah, I guess disorderly conduct. The trial was, they never had a trial, the charges were later dropped. But what they would do in those periods in those days was to remove leaders from the scene, you see. And, you know, that really is an example of how the city was transformed when Harold Washington became mayor. Ah. For example, what they used to do when we would protest what's happening in City Hall, they would put up, ah, ah, barriers to keep us out of the City Hall chambers. After Harold was elected, City Hall opened up, you know, you could walk through City Hall like a citizen. You know, you could go to a department and, and get what you needed because in that department were, were employees who, number one, they felt proud of wanting to help you. And the whole complexion literally changed in City Hall and the city just opened up.