Dreams From My Father

Which path will Obama’s Chicago choose?


When my family moved to Chicago’s South Side, we witnessed the promise of racial progress—and its betrayal. Now, as my old neighborhood sends its favorite son to the White House, it stands at another turning point.

Plans for new development projects on Chicago’s South Side have residents worried that gentrification will price them out.
 

Posing for a picture at the basketball court on 73rd and Woodlawn in the South Oakwood/Brookhave neighorhood, or Pocket Town.
 

By the 1980s, white flight and blockbusting had transformed South Side neighborhoods such as South Shore into almost entirely African American enclaves. View looking Northwest from 73rd Street in the South Shore neighborhood. The South Shore neighborhood was one of the wealthier and more prosperous neighborhoods that at one time had a thriving Jewish population. By the early 1980’s it was almost entirely African-American.
 

An elderly man in the neighborhood known as Pocket Town or the Pocket. The community is still feeling the effects of the collapse of the steel mills and factories that drew many African Americans to the South Side.
 

Mourners pay their respects to Willie Jones Sr., who was born in Mississippi and moved to the South Side in the 1950s. A beloved local figure, he was known for clearing his entire block whenever it snowed.
 

The annual Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic began in 1929 as an attempt to organize newsboys who sold the Chicago Defender. Held on the second Saturday in August, it’s the nation’s oldest African American parade.
 

A graduation party in Pocket Town.
 

In the mid-1990s, Chicago began tearing down its infamous housing projects to replace them with mixed income developments. Only 30 percent of the new units have been built, yet thousands of families have been forced to leave public housing and find new places to live.
 

Moving into a new apartment in the Pocket.
 

Barack and Michelle Obama at the 2007 Bud Billiken Parade.
 

The Comer Science and Education Foundation sponsors training for construction jobs, but opportunity remains scarce: Fewer than half of adults in the neighborhood have steady work.
 

Two-thirds of children on the South Side are raised by single parents; one-fifth live below the poverty line.
 

Chicago’s murder rate jumped 18 percent in the first seven months of 2008.

 

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate