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Monday, February 14, 2005

Black History Month looks less hopeful along 47th Street

Another columnist from the Chicago Sun-Times, Laura Washington wrote a good column about a historical black neighborhood on the near south side of Chicago.

She starts off talking about a black artist Archibald Motley Jr. who captured a street in that very neighborhood in a painting called "The Stroll". This neighbor was jumping in the 1940s and earlier but today this neighborhood is blighted with vacant lots and boarded up properties. The Alderman, a woman by the name of Dorothy Tillman, is the political boss of that neighborhood.

Dorothy Tillman within the last year opened up her centerpiece project the Harold Washington Cultural Center in her ward. Unfortunately, for every one success there is still plenty of blight in the neighborhood. Of course changing a depressed neighborhood takes time, but according to Laura Washington Ms. Tillman was holding out. Here's a quote:

Over the years, Tillman has put aldermanic holds on dozens of properties. Many of the vacant lots in her ward lay fallow today because she has chosen to hold up the city-owned land for the proper time. Her cast-iron grip on that land has crippled development that might have blossomed into jobs and hope long ago.

She has made it clear that she is the master of her universe. Her critics have claimed her development decisions are tied to favored developers, especially those who come calling with campaign contributions in hand.

Ah-ha, there are questions to be asked. Of course as of late Dorothy Tillman has been involved in the crusade for reparations. In fact Chicago has the first reparation ordinance in the nation which requires any company wishing to do business with the City of Chicago to reveal any past ties to slavery. According to this column Bank of America failed to do this and resultantly Mrs. Tillman sounded the horn charging Bank of America with profiting from slavery and urging that Bank of America should be shut out of a lucrative city bond deal.

To this Ms. Washington had this to say:

But history, especially the African-American kind, deserves as much passion
from black leaders who get stuff done for those in need in the here and now.

Whether you roll or stroll, today's 47th Street ain't the way it's
supposed to be.



So this goes back to what I've talked about earlier will the current generation of black leadership have something to leave behind (a positive legacy of growth and building). Will it might be too early to tell, but I think that this question is still worth asking.

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