When America thinks of
But if you're from
Apartment buildings, stores, shops and offices had been burned to the ground. The neighborhood has never recovered.
"It's always been like this, always, all my life,"
"It's was always bad on account of the fires, but it's changing," Madison said. "Now they're going to put condos up and run us out of the neighborhood."
Who's going to run you out?
"Who you think?" he said, staring at the lone white guy on the corner.
"Not you personally, but you know, you can see it, they'll develop us next out of the neighborhood."
Development along Madison has crept up to
The other day, my newspaper published "Rage, Riots and Ruin," a comprehensive and riveting account of the King riots by reporters
The paper asked readers a question: Do you have memories from the 1968
I wonder what stories they'll tell.
Will they tell stories of street gang leaders like
Will they tell of Italians on their rooftops with guns near
Or of African-Americans hunkering down in panic and despair, with their neighborhood burning, thugs running wild in the chaos?
I've got a story. When I told it on my podcast, my mom heard it and began crying.
The day after King was assassinated, just as the riots were beginning, she was out on Madison, west of the Loop, at a lawyer's office when the lawyer cut the meeting short: You've got to go, he said.
Office workers were spilling out of the buildings, West Side blacks had begun to break windows, police sirens were screaming. And there was my mom, with her purse and white gloves, a white lady on the corner alone, not knowing what to do.
"Lady, get in the cab!" shouted a cabdriver. She was in and he was rolling before she realized he was black. He told her to lie down, then drove around barricades and the gathering mobs, and took her to
Civility can snap so quickly, de-escalate into barbarism. And it can also be restored by acts of kindness, like the cabdriver putting himself at risk to take my mom into a neighborhood where he was in danger.
We don't know his name. But every year at this time, our family thanks him.
"That kind of thing happened all that week, good people in chaos, helping each other, while others tried to hurt each other and take what they could," retired
Capesius spent 36 years on the job. But that week in April, he was a rookie cop on the West Side, two months out of the academy.
"Whites were arming, blacks were terrified, police officers were bringing their own shotguns to work. It was that crazy," he said.
I started my day on the West Side with breakfast at the
The Palace, at
"They say that the violence didn't come this far east, but it did," owner
"There were good people in the neighborhood," Lemperis said. "Some still come back."
Out on the 3800 block of
A young man in dreadlocks, who I thought was a bystander, was watching them, and I asked him what was going on.
"They're shooting a TV show, 'Chicago P.D.,'" said actor
Ballinger had a great personality, funny and confident, and I could see him as a star.
I asked if he knew what happened on the West Side 50 years ago this week.
"I don't know," he said, smiling. "Was it the Great
He's so young, how could he know? How many people remember?
It's not a story