When Public Housing was Paradise: Building Community in Chicago

Overview

This collection of 79 oral histories offers a remarkable window into public housing's past in Chicago through the voices of its former residents and staff. Public housing was once a paradise of good housing, positive community, and careful management—a past that offers a blueprint for public housing's future. As John Hope Franklin suggested, Fuerst has given us something about which to ponder quite seriously.

Fuerst offers a collection of 79 oral histories of former public ...

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Overview

This collection of 79 oral histories offers a remarkable window into public housing's past in Chicago through the voices of its former residents and staff. Public housing was once a paradise of good housing, positive community, and careful management—a past that offers a blueprint for public housing's future. As John Hope Franklin suggested, Fuerst has given us something about which to ponder quite seriously.

Fuerst offers a collection of 79 oral histories of former public housing residents and staff in Chicago. The voices remember a time between 1938 and 1960 when public housing offered low-income families desirable and attractive housing, a strong sense of community, and a supportive environment for children and families. Public housing also served as an engine of upward mobility into the middle class and beyond, particularly for African Americans. Repeatedly and emphatically, former residents describe positive experiences, communal feeling, and real gain from project life. They attribute much of this success to careful management by the prograM's early administrators, several of whom are interviewed.

The remarkable and surprising stories told—about project life, about family and work, about race and community—offer a window into a time that has largely been forgotten, as the more recent decline of public housing has overshadowed the history of success documented here. Yet this past must be remembered, because the policies in place when public housing was paradise offer a path for revitalizing a much-needed program. As John Hope Franklin points out, Fuerst has given us someting about which to ponder quite seriously. Or, as Studs Terkel notes, Fuerst, who was there from the moment of creation, has put together a marvelous book. It is a collage of memories from those who recall the beauty that was there and the something bleak that has been manufactured. This work is full of heroes, the tenants of public housing today. It should be must-reading, especially for young journalists who would seek the truth of what we patronizingly call 'the inner city.' An important resource for scholars, students, professionals, and interested readers concerned with urban life in America.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275974978
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/2003
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

J. S. FUERST is Emeritus Professor of Social Welfare Policy at Loyola University and former Assistant Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Studies. He was Director of Research and Statistics for the Chicago Housing Authority for 10 years.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword
Preface
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 The Vision and Its Implementers: The Staff of the CHA 9
Oscar C. Brown, Sr 10
John Ducey 12
Ed Holmgren 15
Ruth Sable 16
Emil Hirsch 19
Tom McDade 22
Ted Greenhalgh 24
Winston Kennedy 26
Daisy Brumfield 29
Muriel Chadwick 32
Patricia McArthur Harris 34
Beverly Shepherd 35
Phyllis Offord 37
Ch. 2 Laboratories for Leadership 41
Cordell Reed 42
Bennie L. Crane 44
Bertrand Ellis 47
Leon Hamilton 52
Andrew Greenlee 57
Jerry Butler 60
Melvin Wilson 63
Joseph Berrios 66
Nelvia Brady 68
James Fletcher 70
Wilson Frost 72
Ch. 3 Gateway to the American Dream 75
Erman and Dorothy Sing 76
Edgar Johnson 79
John Wilson 83
Acey Harris 86
Margaret Austin 89
Charlotte Young Moore 92
Troy L. Yates, Jr. 94
Henry and Elouise Messiah 97
Ch. 4 Reflections on Integration, Segregation, and Choice 101
Sidney and Bernice Bild 103
Gwendolyn Duncan Alexander 105
Stephen Pugh 106
Andrew Thompson 108
Phillip and Jeffery Roberts 110
William Shaw 114
Adolph Slaughter 116
Angela Willuweit 119
Deborah Gilliam Mayes 121
David Doran 122
Ch. 5 Investments in the Mind: The Importance of Education 125
Eugene Farmer 125
Rita Lewis-Perry 128
Winifred DeLoache 130
Abdul Alkalimat 133
Maude Davis 137
Mary Robinson 138
Ananias Samuel, Jr. 140
Vonsell Ashford 144
Joe Thompson 146
Hortense Irwin Bright 147
Ch. 6 The Building of Character: Religion, Sports, and Music 151
Claude and Addie Wyatt 152
Alvin Lewis 155
Everett Jackson 156
Roscoe King 159
Bill "Butterball" Crane 161
Walter Blocker 163
Ramsey Lewis 166
Barbara Jones Slater and Leon Jones 168
Alyce Holden and Loretta Martin 171
Richard Townsell 172
Arnold Weddington 174
Sam Mendenhall 176
Ch. 7 And the Band Played On and On ... and Then Off Key: Residents Who Stayed in CHA 179
Hattie Calvin 180
Hallie Amey 182
Helen Preston 183
Margaret Wilson 185
Rosita Henry 187
Edna McNeal 189
Hazel Johnson 189
Myrtle Morrison 190
Conclusion: The Rebirth of Public Housing 193
Afterword 205
Notes 211
Further Reading 215
Index 217
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