Chicago Freedom Movement

Fulfilling the Dream

Coretta Scott King

“It had been decided to concentrate the Chicago movement on open housing first. There was tremendous resistance to this in some white suburbs where Martin led one or two protest marches. He told me that never, even in the South, had he seen such hatred in the eyes of white people. . . .
This aspect of the Chicago movement ended when, to avoid what seemed an inevitable bloody confrontation, a conference was held, over which Martin and Mayor Daley presided. Archbishop John Cody came, and there were representatives of the Chicago Real Estate Board, the Chicago Housing Authority, as well as business and industrial leaders, and, of course, people from SCLC and black leaders from Chicago. An agreement on open housing was reached and announced on August 26.
We felt that we had achieved a victory after a long struggle against recalcitrant forces. The opposition knew that change was inevitable, but change does not come without pressure and without sacrifice and real determination. Unfortunately the agreement was never properly implemented. The city officials failed to keep their promises. I believe that Chicago could have avoided much tension, strife, and bloodshed later had this agreement been lived up to.”

Coretta Scott King, My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Avon, 1969), p. 290.

(Biographical note: Coretta Scott King went to Chicago with her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., to live for a time in a rented apartment in North Lawndale. She has been the inspirational force behind the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.)

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