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Integration on the Southwest Side

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To the editors:

It was unfortunate that the Reader spent so much time and energy focusing on the racial divisions found in the communities that make up the Chicago metropolitan area ["Segregation City," August 30]. The media has time and time again reported on our inability as a society to get along with each other. While all too often this is the case, there are numerous examples of civic cooperation.

Instead of reporting on suburbs that appear to be experiencing racial resegregation or cases of court ordered coexistence, perhaps a more productive approach could have been taken.

The communities of Beverly, Morgan Park, and Blue Island have been integrated for years. Neighboring Wrightwood and Evergreen Park have shorter histories of working to create and maintain integrated communities. While these communities are far from perfect with regard to their race relations, they are exciting examples of those who dare to challenge the status quo.

In exploring these communities one would find businesses such as Flowers From Hearts, Mrs. B.'s Bakery, or Victoria Place Antiques. Businesses which are owned by blacks and are patronized by black and white residents alike.

One would find institutions such as Evergreen Plaza or Morgan Park High School. Institutions that are largely populated by black residents yet continue to serve the needs of white residents as well.

One would find numerous new businesses, rising property values, and hundreds of community-minded individuals and families committed to integrated living.

Ironically it is in these communities on the southwest side, an area the media has long described as racist, that so much progress is being made.

While our society has explored in depth what is negative regarding race relations, it has not exerted the same energy exploring what in fact is working. If we are really looking for answers to the problems of race relations, the southwest side might be just the place to find them.

James F. O'Neil

N. LaSalle

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