Mastering the art of storytelling to drive change.

A city still segregated

MEDIUM, 11 / 02 / 2019

There’s something about Chicago. We lifers can feel it in our bones. It’s a pride tempered by humility. Yet plenty gritty. There’s not a trace of doubt in it. Chicagoans believe we live in the best city in America.

In 1871, 100,000 people saw their homes destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire.

A family leaves their damaged South Side home during the 1919 Chicago Race Riots.

Some argue that the shortage of housing during the years of the Depression did as much or more as the covenants did to deepen the trend of segregation in Chicago’s neighborhoods. The Supreme Court finally struck down the discriminatory practice in 1948, but by the late 1930s, the Chicago political machine was already up and running under Mayors Cermak and Kelly. And so was a new, more subtle segregationist government practice: “redlining.”

Chicago neighborhoods are color-coded by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. The survey shows the criteria used to redline Steven Vance’s D10 area. Source: Univ. of Virginia Digital Scholarship Lab
In 1966, counterprotesters in Chicago line part of the route taken by Dr. Mr. Luther King Jr. in the Chicago Freedom Movement March.
  • Standing at nearly 20% today, the black unemployment rate is over four times the city’s white unemployment rate. The unemployment rate for Chicago’s Latinxs is about 10% or about double the white rate.
  • Whereas the typical white family earned 1.6 and 1.4 times more income than the typical black and Latinx family in 1960, today the typical white family earns 2.2 and 1.7 times more income than the typical black and Latinx families.
  • CPS schools are segregated by race and ethnicity as well as poverty. About 91% of black students and 89% of Latinx students attend schools where 75% or more of the student population are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
  • Blacks and Latinxs are more likely to be searched during vehicular stops. Although blacks and Latinx are searched at four times the rate of their white counterparts, they are half as likely to be in possession of illegal contraband or a controlled substance.
  • Only 14 out of 100 CPS 9th graders graduate college within ten years of beginning high school. Of these college graduates, 36% are white women, 27% are white men, 16% are Latinx women, 13% are black women, 11% are Latino men, and 6% are black men.
Source: University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
The shootings of Chicago, block by block, mapped by DNAinfo.
A view of the Chicago skyline from McKinley Park on the city’s South Side, where the READI and CRED programs are working to cut down on gun violence. Photo: Jimmy Fishbein Photography
Harold Washington is sworn in as Chicago’s first African-American mayor at an inaugural ceremony at Navy Pier on April 29th, 1983. Chicago Public Library Special Collections