Jim Keck

CORE, SCLC, 1964-67, Illinois
1305 Harlem Ave
Forest Park, IL 60130
Email: jkecklcpc@aol.com

I became a tenant union organizer with the West Side Chapter of CORE during the summer of 1964. The late Tony Henry and Father Edgar "Peter" Haasl were our movers and shakers. Fired up, come fall, I organized a Human Relations Committee at my high school, Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, during my senior year. I also created the youth affiliate of the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago, Christian Student Movement, to recruit Catholic high school and college students to work in the new Chicago Freedom Movement, the union of SCLC and our local Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO).

In 1965, Rev. James Bevel arrived in town with the advance SCLC organizing team. I soon joined the SCLC-Near North Side Union to End Slums as a field organizer under the tutorage of James Bevel and Jerry Herman. As such I was involved in the Jenner Elementary School Boycott and open housing marches on the city's northwest and southwest sides.

After Dr. King left Chicago, I stayed active participating in local Operation Breadbasket and United Farm Workers actions. I also become very involved in the Anti-Vietnam War Movement as a volunteer with the American Friends Service Committee. For example, I served as a "medic" in the protests at the Hilton Hotel during the 1968 Democratic Convention. (I had helped turn out the vote for Eugene McCarthy on Chicagos northside.)

After an extraordinary experience as a student at the then experimental SUNY at Old Westbury from 1969 to 1971, I returned to Chicago to become a full-blown professional community organizer. For the most part, from 1971 to 1985, I worked to fight the incessant resegregation of the citys neighborhoods based, ironically, on the northwest and southwest sides. After all, it was the violent racial and economic change of my own west side neighborhood, Our Lady of the Angels Parish, that led me to join CORE, as a teen, in the first place.

I have since become and worked as a professional addictions and mental health counselor. In order to help make "the dream come true," I served full-time as a volunteer in the initial 2008 campaign to elect Barack Obama our President — Macomb County, Michigan, to be exact, the home of Reagan Democrats.

 


 
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