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Glencoe exhibit appears at historical past, expertise of Black residents

  • SOCIETY

With the opening of its newest exhibit, “Glencoe’s Black Heritage,” representatives of the Glencoe Historic Society hope individuals might be intrigued about how some Black residents have made the village their dwelling because the final a part of the nineteenth Century.

“We’re telling tales about our Black group from all completely different eras,” Glencoe Historic Society co-president Karen Ettelson mentioned.

Unfold over two buildings on the historic society campus at 375 Park Avenue, the exhibit presents tales of Black residents who moved into the village beginning in 1884, in line with GHS.

With many Black residents searching for contemporary financial alternatives in Glencoe, Ettelson mentioned some individuals labored home jobs on the houses of white residents, however the majority of the early Black residents both began companies or sought jobs at current companies.

Ettelson believes the early Glencoe leaders, from the time of the village’s incorporation in 1869, have been open to a various group as some had ties to the abolitionist motion and the Freedmen’s Bureau, a post-Civil Struggle program aimed to help Black individuals find employment and academic alternatives.

She believes they have been drawn to Glencoe as a result of there was inexpensive land and built-in faculties and famous most however not all Black residents lived within the southern half of the village beginning within the late Eighties.

The exhibit highlights the efforts of a few of the earliest Black enterprise house owners comparable to Homer Wilson, who based a laundry on Adams Avenue, and takes guests from the early days by way of a number of eras. There are displays of Black troopers from Glencoe who helped break the navy race barrier by serving within the Tuskegee Airmen; the Golden 13, the primary African-American commissioned officers of the US Navy, and the primary Black US Marines at Montford Level at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune.

A lot of the exhibit’s focus facilities on St. Paul AME Church, which was based in 1884 and remains to be in existence immediately on Washington Avenue within the village.

“It touched my coronary heart, the thoroughness, the element, ardour and analysis. Every little thing that has been performed to spotlight this exhibit is firstclass and so great,” mentioned Susan Richmond, a lifelong member of St. Paul AME.

Ettelson mentioned St. Paul AME performed a central function in Glencoe’s early improvement.

“St. Paul sponsored actions for your complete group, and your complete group responded,” she mentioned.

There have been about 350 Black Glencoe residents round 1920 however the inhabitants began to lower as a result of efforts of the Glencoe Houses Affiliation, also called The Syndicate. That group purchased up many properties in south Glencoe and commenced flipping them with restrictive covenants prohibiting gross sales to Black individuals in addition to these of Italian, Greek and different non-Caucasian descent, in line with Ettelson.

In 1929, the Glencoe Park District used its energy of eminent area regulation to sentence houses of Black and Italian residents to make method for a brand new park subsequent to South Faculty, Ettelson mentioned.

Ettelson mentioned prejudice has existed within the space in different kinds, together with the burning of the primary St. Paul AME by arsonists in 1930, and it took a federal courtroom order in 1942 to open Glencoe Seashore to Black beachgoers.

“Now we have to be sensible, at sure instances over time, there have been issues locally,” Ettelson mentioned.

By the Sixties, there have been makes an attempt to open up the village to a extra various inhabitants, in line with Ettelson.

“There have been teams who labored laborious for honest and open housing,” she mentioned. “They weren’t at all times profitable however there was a concerted effort.”

Richmond mentioned she was very comfy rising up as a younger Black lady within the village, however there have been issues.

“A lot of the ladies as we grew up, we fled Glencoe. You wanted extra of a social life while you tried to this point. Guys from Evanston have been at all times stopped by the police going dwelling. That’s one thing that has been occurring for many years,” she mentioned.

The exhibit traces the village’s historical past for Black residents by way of the Nineteen Nineties, noting how James Webb was the primary and, as of now, solely Black village president.

Presently, US Census information signifies there are lower than 100 Black residents presently residing within the village with a inhabitants of almost 8,900 individuals.

Ettelson anticipates the exhibit might be in place for at the very least 18 months.

“We wish individuals to return and see it and luxuriate in it,” she mentioned. “I believe that is an expertise the place somebody goes to have to return again a few instances to see all of it.”

Richmond, who mentioned her household has lived within the village for a lot of generations, shared the same sentiment.

“I hope individuals will come and see it to allow them to know their group and the half that we, as Black individuals, have performed locally. Not simply within the church however by rising up right here but in addition residing and dealing right here,” she mentioned. “Glencoe is my hometown and my mama’s and her mama’s. It’s a part of my life and a part of my historical past.”

Daniel I. Dorfman is a contract reporter with Pioneer Press.

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