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Table of Contents > Chapter 10

Grand Boulevard — Washington Park (continued)

Like most of the Grand Boulevard and Washington Park houses of worship, St. Anselm's soon became a thriving black church. The few white institutions that decided to stay in the area generally adhered to the color line, excluding blacks from membership. As Thomas Philpott has documented in his book, The Slum and the Ghetto, white Catholics and Protestants often used the recreation facilities at Sinai Temple, but black residents in Grand Boulevard were not welcome. This situation changed somewhat in 1944 when Sinai Temple relocated to Hyde Park and sold its buildings to the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. From 1945 to 1962 the former temple operated as Corpus Christi High School, but its student body was composed almost exclusively of young men and women from Chicago's black Catholic parishes. Now known as Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, the temple at 46th and King Drive is one of the most important institutions in the Grand Boulevard community.

In Washington Park, SS. Constantine and Helen parish remained long after the surrounding neighborhood had become a black community. But the major change that took place in this parish had to do with acculturation, not integration. As Andrew T. Kopan has observed, the new basilica-style church dedicated in 1928 included permanent pews and an organ, sure signs that the Greek Orthodox congregation was becoming "Americanized." When SS. Constantine and Helen parish finally sold its church and school to St. Edmund Episcopal parish in 1948, the Greeks followed the path taken by earlier residents of Washington Park-to South Shore.

While Chicago's black community expanded tremendously during the 1920s, the Black Belt did not disappear. Rather, its boundaries were redefined. Blacks who moved into Grand Boulevard-Washington Park soon discovered that it was unsafe to travel west of Wentworth or east of Cottage Grove. Within these boundaries, however, a separate black world existed with flourishing theaters, clubs, churches, and businesses. More than any other event, the Bud Billiken Parade on August 16, 1930 symbolized the transformation of Grand Boulevard and Washington Park into black communities. Sponsored by the Chicago Defender, the parade began at 35th and Grand Boulevard in the heart of the old "Bronzeville" district and ended in Washington Park. In the midst of a downpour of rain, 8,000 black children participated in the line of march, and they were greeted by nearly 5,000 children who waited for the festivities to begin in the park.

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