Interview with Lu Palmer

Your organization, Chicago Black United Communities, first got kicked off by Thornton Burns support to appoint Tom Ayers as president of the School Board. Tell me what happened around those School Board appointments. How did that go down?


Well, Chicago, the Chicago School System, collapsed financially. And Jane Byrne who was then the mayor was mandated by the State legislature to appoint a whole new School Board which was unprecedented. We got word that she was only getting input from the Chicago Urban League and from something called Chicago United. Both of those agencies, ah, did not represent grassroots Black Chicago. So, we just said we weren't going to stand for it. To make a very long story short, we became involved in, in, in the process of getting Black members on the school board. Out of that fight, and it was a long tough fight, we put together what came to be known as the Chicago Black United Communities, CBUC, we called it C-BUC and, ah, it led to the first Black president of the School Board. We not only kicked out Tom Ayers who was a suburbanite who was head of Commonwealth Edison. In other words, he had that suburban, ah, establishment record. So, we were able, through court, through the courts, to knock him off the Board so he could not become president which is what Jane Byrne wanted. And as a result we got elected the first Black school board president.