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Entries : Trumbull Park Homes Race Riots, 1953-1954
Trumbull Park Homes Race Riots, 1953-1954

Trumbull Park Homes Race Riots, 1953-1954

South Deering erupted in violence in 1953 over the issue of racial integration at the neighborhood's lone public housing project, Trumbull Park Homes, located at 105th Street and Yates Avenue. Since 1937, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) had maintained an unstated policy to house only whites at projects that, like Trumbull Park, were located in entirely white neighborhoods. However, the project was “accidentally” integrated on July 30, 1953, because the CHA assumed that Betty Howard, an exceptionally fair-skinned African American, was white. Beginning on August 5 and continuing nightly for weeks thereafter, crowds of whites directed fireworks, rocks, and racial epithets toward Betty and Donald Howard's apartment. Police responded with a show of force but few arrests. South Deering leaders openly pressured Chicago politicians and the CHA to remove the Howards, while progressive forces argued for further integration. In October, after lengthy debate, the CHA's commissioners reluctantly agreed to move in 10 additional black families, triggering a new round of white violence directed at blacks. A massive police presence prevented full-scale rioting, but chronic racial tension and sporadic violence continued through the 1950s. Not until 1963 could African Americans openly use a neighboring public park without police protection. The conflict claimed the career of the CHA's progressive executive director, Elizabeth Wood, who had pushed the CHA's commissioners to further integrate the project. White violence had succeeded in blocking any further racial integration beyond the token black population in the project.