A Neighborhood Finds Itself

By Julia Abrahamson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Facing the Problems

A few people tried to take constructive action. Some were concerned primarily with the physical conservation of the area, others with preventing violence and encouraging good relations between the races. And there were a few who saw the two approaches as necessarily interwoven.

As far back as the 1930's, Louis Wirth, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, had urged university authorities to buy and improve property in deteriorating sections.

When in 1946 the population began to change from white to Negro along the western border of Hyde Park-Kenwood, Thomas H. Wright, head of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, tried to stimulate various local groups to face the issues of race relations and conservation. He talked with University of Chicago officials, and later with members of the Hyde Park Planning Association. The association was not a planning agency, despite its name. Its primary concern, according to a former president, was to "keep the area white."

Representatives of the American Veterans Committee approached the Reverend Leslie T. Pennington in his capacity as chairman of the Hyde Park Community Council (an organization of community organizations) about the possibility of setting up a

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