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166                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            I-B. Author’s Eyewitness Historical-Context Introduction written
               March 19, 1994

            Tutored by the legendary father of community organizing, Saul Alin-
            sky (1909-1972), I was among sixteen Catholic seminarians who in the
            summers of 1962 and 1963 worked with The Woodlawn Organization
            (TWO) out of Holy Cross Parish on the South Side of Chicago near the El
            stop at 63  and Cottage Grove. I was an impressionable age twenty-three
            and twenty-four those summers I volunteered to help make a census of
            Blacks newly arrived in Chicago. At that time of the Vatican Council, the
            Catholic Church under Pope John XXIII was wide open to change, and
            the ideal — my personal ideal — was that of the French Worker priests
            who lived among the people, supported themselves, and did not live in a
            parish house with servants.
               Wearing the proper “civil-rights uniform” of the time (black chinos,
            short-sleeved white shirt, button-down collar and tie), we smiling white
            boys went door to door in every tenement on every floor of every high-
            rise and carved-up house through the vast urban blocks of Holy Cross
            parish. To minimize any possible hostility, we steered politely clear of the
            Blackstone Rangers who were the indigenous street gang looking out for
            the good of the neighborhood. By 1968, the Blackstone Rangers worked
            against the infamous political machine of the “Fascist” Mayor Daley,
            which, of course, was one more straw that made him so angry that he
            unleashed his Chicago Police into the famous police riot at the Demo-
            cratic Convention in 1968. So, in a way, the Blackstone Rangers were
            one of the many resistance fighters who led to the gay resistance at the
            Stonewall Riot in 1969, because we all learned something at the Demo-
            cratic Convention. (From 1964-1967, whenever there was an election in
            Chicago, I volunteered as a poll watcher to “keep the dead from voting
            too many times.”)
               In the 1960s whirl of those wild days in civil rights, we seminarians
            literally marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. for a sit-in at the office
            of Mayor Daley who had us all carried out bodily by cops. I wasn’t gay
            yet, but, ah, those hot cops! Perhaps this first-person feature essay from
            another time is the best way to illustrate the kind of street credentials I
            took into 1960s civil rights and 1970s gay liberation.
               Civil rights activism was one of the experiences that I brought to
            the table at Drummer. When John Preston and other leatherfolk told me
            about their own work in Black civil rights in the 1960s, it proved that
            the Gay Power crusade for our own civil rights grew out of many GLBT
            people’s experience working for the upside of Black Power within the
            African-American community.

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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