“People have been lied to and cheated. People have been systematically denied their right to control decisions that affect their lives and their communities.”
–Studs Terkel quoting Gale Cincotta during July 7, 1977 interview
This is not my first blog to be influenced by a sermon of Fr. Ed Foley, from the Catholic Theological Union. One homily back in May 2014 especially resonated with me when he encouraged the congregation to be “Traders in Hope.” This inspired me to post a series of blogs about my community development colleagues who could add that title to their LinkedIn profiles. More recently on Sunday July 8th this year, Fr. Foley offered two additional job descriptions which are timely positions to be filled for today’s challenges and an appropriate title for this blog.
That same Sunday afternoon, I attended a presentation at our favorite independent book store, City Lit, by the archivist for the Studs Terkel Radio Archives. Then later that evening, I searched the site and found Studs’ interview 41 years and a day ago with the “Warrior for Truth and the Prophet of Virtuous Action” who shaped my life and vocation, Gale Cincotta.
Not only was it great to hear Gale’s voice again, it was especially relevant to hear Studs quote above the essence of Gale’s call to action over four decades ago. In the interview Gale reminds us even today: “Getting people to realize that they can exert control of their own lives is what it is all about.”
Gale went on to discuss with Studs the “sense of Power, sense of being” when people act together. My first memory of Gale goes back to the spring of 1973 as she addressed a school hall filled of African-Americans, ethnic whites, and Latinos from communities across the country, which were all inundated by racial steering for profit. She would call out the truth today as affordable housing remains plagued by developer greed and racial segregation.
On July 9, 2018, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial, Growth vs. Affordability — Neighborhoods Need Both, referencing a Tribune story that discovered: “in gentrifying neighborhoods where affordable housing is most needed, fees paid by developers to fund housing at below-market rates get diverted elsewhere.” The editorial concludes that a pilot program should be expanded to more gentrifying communities to eliminate the buy-out option and ensure that if developers are going to build in these neighborhoods, “they’ll have no choice but to include affordable housing in their plans.” My comment is absent such a timely policy shift, the City of Chicago and other US cities are fostering continued racial and economic segregation.
For those who would protest such governmental action would be market interference, a history lesson can be learned from Studs’ and Gale’s 1977 conversation. Studs asks if Chicago’s posh Lincoln Park had a plan to move out its low-income population. Gale answered by noting that 55% of Chicago’s federal HUD loans went to Lincoln Park’s more affluent instead of where they were supposed to go to assist low- and moderate-income Chicago residents and communities.
Warriors for Truth and Prophets of Virtuous Action needed even more now 41 years later. Applications welcomed!