A Community in Search of Itself: A Case History of Cairo, Illinois

By Herman R. Lantz | Go to book overview

10
The present and the future

Cairo remains a community in search of itself; while its history is rich, its future is bleak. Basic problems from the past continue, complicated by difficult unresolved racial problems. In a community where whites have difficulty maintaining steady employment, blacks, who constitute almost half the community, have much greater difficulty.

There seems little awareness on either side that racial difficulties go back at least to the post--Civil War period. The tendency is to think of racial problems as recent; such a view obscures the complexity of both the attitudes and issues. In a recent documentary over local television, those interviewed fell into four groups: white conservatives, white liberals, black liberals, and black militants.1 The white conservatives believed that the solution to racial problems was strict enforcement of the law. The white liberals felt that meaningful communication between blacks and whites was imperative for a resolution, but they were doubtful that meaningful dialogue would occur between the two groups. Black liberals were in essential agreement on these points. Black militants took the position that basic changes in the social and economic organization of the community would have to take place before the tense racial situation would change.

While all groups recognize the seriousness of racial difficulty, solutions differ. Discussions with some citizens of the community reveal charges of discrimination in personal service areas. One citizen noted that until the last few years the greatest offender was the city government; aside from the police force which is integrated, the fire department and the utilities

-170-

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A Community in Search of Itself: A Case History of Cairo, Illinois
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Purpose and Overview 1
  • 2 - The Early Years 7
  • 3 - River Transshipment and Railroads 20
  • 5 - The Economy of Liquor and Vice 68
  • 6 - Political Development 88
  • 7 - Failure in Process 111
  • 8 - Flooding and Seep Water 132
  • 9 - Power, Dependency, Alienation, And Resignation 146
  • 10 - The Present and the Future 170
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 231
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