Opens Property War

Whites Eager for Color Bar in Woodlawn

Make Riotous Talks in Schoolhouse

Chicago Defender

Saturday, October 22, 1932

Page 1

This article is transcribed by Wendy Plotkin, a Ph.D. Candidate in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Some years ago the virus of race prejudice entered the veins of white residents in the Oakwood section of Chicago's South side and when members of the Race sought to move into the district the whites adopted the slogan, "Thou shalt not pass."

Our people did pass, however, as subsequent events developed, and now live in peace and harmony in the Oakwood district, with other members of the Race and those few real white Americans who, having no prejudice in their hearts, refused to join their brethren in the exodus from the neighborhood.

This week another white organization, the Woodlawn Property Owners Association, led by Fred L. Helman, 6217 Drexel Ave., in an effort to prevent members of the Race from moving into Woodlawn, threw caution to the wind and proclaimed from the housetops to the Race citizens of the South side, "Thou shalt not pass!"

Cites Districts

The Woodlawn association is grieved over the possiblity of our people becoming residents of that section of Woodlawn bounded by 60th St. on the north, 63rd St. on the south, South Pkway, on the west and Cottage Grove Ave. on the east. This is the district built up and developed years ago when the Washington Park race track was discontinued after horse racing in Illinois became illegal.

But all the hue and cry of white residents in Woodlawn cannot stop members of the Race from living as decent, respectable and law-abiding citizens in whatever section of Chicago they choose, so long as their acquisition of property or their rental of homes is legal, above board and in accordance with their rights as American citizens.

Meeting is Called

Thursday evening, Oct. 20, the irate members of the Woodlawn Property Owners association and others of the district attended a protest meeting at 1170 E. 63rd St., to raise their voices against the threatened "invasion" of our people.

Merchants business men and residents from all over Woodlawn were present, as were also some of the merchants who have their places of business in the so-called "Black Belt." The chairman of the organization opened the meeting with a prolific use of the word "nigger," and he was bitter in his denunciation of this "intrusion" on the part of our people.

Chairman Speaks

The chairman spoke as follows: "The question is so important that I would think any court or any judiciary power could not deny a hearing to the people and justice in that hearing. * * * The property owners of the Woodlawn district anticipated [Page 2] this invastion or intrusion four years ago. They joined together about 93 per cent of all the property owners, signed a contract and agreed with one another that they would neither rent nor sell to "niggers"! * * * We anticipated the degeneration that would occur if the 'niggers' invaded our territory."

Helman's Appeal

"We have in this district a restricted area. We have a way of preventing them from going farther--the meeting last Thursday night was called for the express purpose--due to the fact that it was necessary to have a judge of some court issue an order that would grant an injunction restricting the niggers from moving in at 417 E. 60th St."

"This judge said he would grant same if we put up a $500 bond. There was not interest from the individuals and no money for the bond could be obtained. About $135 was collected, whereas $500 was needed to put the nigger out.

"If white people could be kept in the place while the litigation was going on the situation would be easier, but the money was unobtainable and the nigger got in and stayed in while litigation went on.

"The big men, so-called, in the neighborhood who were asked to contribute had no personal interest and the nigger moved in before the injunction could be obtained. Now it is a question of 40 days. Think of the effect it would have on the adjacent property."

The Chicago Defender has been apprised of the identity of the judge referred to in Helman's speech and his name has been filed away for reference in connection with future development of the case, and especially should the eminent jurist seek re-election to the bench.

 This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin ( in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.