[Re: Neighborhood News, May 19]
During the 1940s and '50s, with the University of Chicago at its behest employing such tactics as Conservation Community Councils and new parks to reduce the number of residences that could possibly be occupied by black people, the Hyde Park community made a concerted effort to figuratively and literally distance itself from the surrounding "encroaching" black neighborhoods during that redevelopment period of the city's.
To name this new park "Oakland Park" in an effort to establish the neighborhood so as to be on par with the Hyde Park community in the midst of the current redevelopment campaign is to, historically speaking, disown the area's image as a "black neighborhood." And, in its place, achieve an "integrated" white community image.
Many of us are aware that the city's current "redevelopment" campaign is one of gentrification. So, yes, the naming of a public park in honor of a black community activist, hence acknowledging the black residency of the neighborhood, is a political stance that should not be compromised. One final note, I would implore any reader who is interested in such urban planning issues to read Arnold Hirsch's Making the Second Ghetto, as it will illustrate exactly what is at stake.
Hyde Park neighbor