It was a beautiful fall day. Sunday, September 30, Mr. Ed Gardner retired Soft Sheen Hair Care proprietor issued a clarion call to the Black community at large to join him in a march for jobs and contracts at 3 p.m. at 95th and Western. About 5,000 people came.
Our most respected elders led the march. On the front line were Mr. Ed Gardner, Manford Byrd, Roland Burris, and Congressman Danny Davis. These are men who have led us throughout the years. Stand up. The old timers came, the young came, and those in between came. The Harold Washington crowd was rekindled.
The march was orderly. The police were in force dressed in riot gear. They were polite and mostly white. Helicopters flew overhead. Many of the aldermen were there. Lawyers were there. State legislators were there. Professionals were there. Educators were there. Ministers were there. The press was there. The community organizers were there. Businessmen and women were there.
It was orderly yet firm. Some of the people who marched were those who marched when Mayor Jane Byrne crossed the Black community on the fest. It was on that line on a summer day, that thoughts of a Black mayor manifested. The march was on 95th Street. It’s the street where Evergreen Park Shopping Center sits. The community was Beverly Hills. Down the street is where Trinity Church sits. Down the street is where Barrack Obama, the community organizer sat.
The community for unity came together. Quiet. Forceful. Chanting. Questioning. Why don’t we have jobs in our community where we live and work? That’s Mr. Gardner’s question. Some of the people on the site, said an Asian contractor. was doing the construction. Does not count. The Black community is fed up with the “minority” count that doesn’t count us. A black agenda is required and is in the utmost of minds. The kitchen table conversation, marched. A talk radio discussion became reality.
The cross generational crowd was interesting. When the police got forceful and stood in line in force to prevent the marchers from marching a certain way, the veteran marchers, grabbed the younger ones by the hand and said keep on coming. There are more of us than policemen. We will stand them down. And they kept coming. The marchers moved the policemen backwards, to the point, that traffic was disrupted.
Mr. Gardner led the march. No speeches. No drama. People came. People were talking about the upcoming presidential election, the mayoral and who could be the candidate.
The people came. The black community is not satisfied with the photo opportunities.
It took an elderly man, with a cane to lead. He lead a Chicago movement once before and it changed the body politic.
And we rise.