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170                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
            characters right out of the novels of Richard Wright and James Baldwin.
            But more importantly, we found the people called Negro.
               We found the good ordinary people trying to live ordinary fam-
            ily lives in a circle of appalling circumstances. We went door to door
            in hundreds of six-family dwellings inhabited by up to fourteen fami-
            lies. And we talked. And how we talked. If nothing else, we established
            communication with some of those people locked behind their tenement
            doors. We were Catholic priests to them, but we were also the first social
            contact many of them had made in the community. Since the area’s entire
            population shifts about every three years, the neighborhood is a constant
            flux of new addresses. Many are Southern Negroes new to the city. Their
            adjustment from their former rural or small-town way-of-life is not easily
            made. Many of them do not known their neighbor across the hall, much
            less where the local church is, who the doctor is, whom to see for social
            help. And for as many who sit bitterly in their one-room walk-ups because
            the North is not the Promised Land, there are more who are attending
            night classes at local schools, more who recognize the difficulties in their
            neighborhood, more are worried to death over their children’s future.
               And here with the children is the impelling force driving the Negro
            to seek his rights. He wants education for his children so that applications
            for decent jobs can be made by qualified Negro applicants, so that life can
            be lived with some dignity of profession. He doesn’t want his children to
            slide back into the morass that has stalled the Negro for centuries. Up to
            this past summer he was finding it more and more difficult to tell nine-
            year-old Suzie she couldn’t go to this or that movie theater because she is
            Black; and more and more easy to explain to her why she must go with her
            father to a freedom march (“Because you’re a human being, honey, and
            you have a right to live like one.”), knowing full well that her participation
            in the demonstration would be awakening in her the social consciousness
            of a whole new generation.
               The Civil Rights Bill has boosted the Negro’s hopes and responsibili-
            ties enormously.
               The Negro puts a different value on children than does our white
            “control-conscious” society. Perhaps because he has fewer other distrac-
            tions his focus is electrically on the worth and future of his children as
            social entities. Even the names common among Negroes, outlines of the
            most famous heroes of American history from Washington to Lincoln to
            Roosevelt and now John Kennedy, are clues to the aspirations American
            Negro parents dream for their children.
               But why were we in Woodlawn? Negroes asked us that and we asked
            ourselves and each other. Monsignor John J. Egan, director of the Chi-
            cago Archdiocesan Conservation Council, answered us quite succinctly

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