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Table of Contents > Chapter 10

Grand Boulevard — Washington Park (continued)

At the east end of Grand Boulevard, resentment against black newcomers took the form of a mass meeting on October 20, 1919. Nearly 1,200 white residents and property owners living on Grand Boulevard and adjacent streets gathered to protest the increasing number of blacks in their neighborhood. According to the Chicago Tribune, the whites adopted the slogan "They Shall Not Pass," a warning that Chicago's blacks were unwelcome on Grand Boulevard. Under the auspices of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Property Owners' Association, Grand Boulevard residents launched a campaign to make it impossible for black families to acquire mortgages and insurance. A smaller group known as the Washington Park Court Improvement Association vowed not to sell or rent property to blacks.

Increasingly, attempts to hold the color line resulted in violence. Black homeowners as well as realtors who sold or rented property to blacks were targets of a bombing campaign which continued throughout the early 1920s. The office and home of Jesse Binga, a black banker and real estate dealer, were bombed nearly ten times between March 1919 and November 1920. Black homeowners in the 4500 block of Vincennes and the 4400 block of Grand Boulevard also were victims of unidentified bombers. Undeterred, black families continued to move into the neighborhood. And in 1920 the congregation of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church purchased the former Temple Isaiah at 45th and Vincennes after the Jewish congregation moved to Hyde Park.

The demand for black institutions in Grand Boulevard intensified, and before long black congregations bought two of the finest buildings in the neighborhood-with disastrous results. In 1924 the Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church at 42nd and Grand Boulevard was completely destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin. Since the 2,500-member congregation purchased the former Jewish Lakeside Club in 1922, they had been the target of the Ku Klux Klan, which was then active in nearby Hyde Park (See Fig. 1). Early in January 1925 the Bethesda Baptist Church at 53rd and Michigan sustained $50,000 damage after it was bombed. This former synagogue had been built in 1914 by the congregation of B'nai Sholom Temple Israel.

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Figure 1: The Lakeside Club, northeast corner Grand Boulevard and 42nd Street, c. 1910.  »

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