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Many young Black leaders and protest groups with different goals and politics emerged to organize marches, rallies and organizations to spread the message that Black lives matter. It was everywhere. It was happening in your face, and it was happening to a point where something needed to be done.


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When the riots ended on August 3, 15 white and 23 Black people had been killed and more than people injured; an additional 1, Black families had lost their homes when they were torched by rioters. When the war ended in latethousands of servicemen returned home from fighting in Europe to find that their jobs in factories, warehouses and mills had been filled by newly arrived Southern Black people or immigrants.

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As the Goodwins paid off their mortgage, they apparently rented one of the floors to tenants — in all likelihood, the Williams family. Nevertheless, Williams was considered important enough to merit a short biographical entry in that reference collection. A cemetery employee looked him up and gave me these coordinates: Section 5, Lot 30, Row 6, Grave I drove out to Alsip the following morning to visit Lincoln Cemetery. The story Harris told about that raft offers another glimpse of what Eugene Williams was like.

It sits in the grass near a walking trail a short distance west of the water — south of McCormick Place and north of the Margaret Burroughs Beach at 31st Street. The burial plot is in a corner of the cemetery without any trees or shrubs. But he reportedly did fire a gun at police later that day. A porter named John W.

Patterson rented out rooms.

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They knew that white people used the 29th Street beach, while black people used a section of beach farther north, near 25th Street. This was especially a problem in Lake View. According to Chicago city directories — which listed the home addresses and occupations of city residents — Goodwin had moved into the house seven or eight years earlier. The building apparently included a second dwelling unit. We would push the raft and swim, kick, dive, and play around.

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Looking through Chicago city directoriesI found a possible match for the Williams family in the directory. A handful of Chicagoans of various races were enjoying the mild, sunny weather that Monday. Ina city official complained about boys constructing ramshackle rafts with scraps of lumber and using them to float in the flooded holes left behind when brick makers scooped clay out of the ground.

He died in the waters of Lake Michigan on the afternoon of July 27,after a white man threw rocks at him — a tragedy that spiraled into a spate of violence lasting several days, with 38 people dead. This was possibly a typical hobby of teenagers of that era.

John had a job that was common for black men of his era, working as a dining car waiter on the Rock Island Line. He was born on March 10,in Georgia. If you visit the block of South Prairie today, the east side of the street is mostly vacant lots, including the spot where the Goodwins once lived.

The short text below the picture noted that Williams had lived at South Prairie Avenue, the same address that the Defender mentioned in its first report about his death. As a general rule he comes home drowned before night, on a stretcher manned by two burly policemen. And when I talked to her at the funeral, I told her how it happened.

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A cop killed Crawford — the second death of the riot. Tags: City LifeHistory.

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As long as the raft was there, we were safe. The undertaker was Charles S. Jackson of South State Street, a black Pittsburgh native who was well regarded in the African American community. But even the Chicago Defendera nationally prominent black newspaper, said very little about Williams. Oh, it was a tremendous thing. How much racism did Eugene experience during his life — as in the South, and later as a youth on the South Side?

Harris noted that Eugene lived in a different neighborhood than he did, so he might not have known him all that well.

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The shoreline where Williams, Harris, and their friends waded into the water was approximately where Lake Shore Drive is today, and the place where Williams drowned was probably farther north. Subscribe Newsletters. For one thing, few newspapers reported in depth about the lives of black Chicagoans. The death certificate also says that Eugene was buried at Lincoln Cemetery on August 5,nine days after his death. Other records show that her first name was Luella. We will continue to search for records and contact you if and when they are located.

I filed a Freedom of Information Act request in November with Cook County, asking for any surviving documents connected with those deaths. On the other, complaints were common about shoddy and unsanitary housing. They would look for us and ask who the boys were with him. The occupants then were a self-employed house decorator named John K. Goodwin, his wife, Annie, a billing clerk for a mail order house, and their three children.

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Harris believed that Luella Williams later conveyed his story to the authorities. Either Harris was mistaken, or Eugene had lived there at some other point. It appears that Eugene had no siblings, or at least none that were living with his parents at the time of his death. The landscape has changed sinceas landfill was added along the shore. These verdicts were also published in a report you can see at the Chicago History Museum.

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Who was Eugene Williams? It was a nice size — it was about 14 by 9 feet. He was still at the same place inwhen he took out an ad in the Defender offering his painting, decorating, paperhanging, and wood-refinishing services. Using information from Ancestry. They had a mortgage on the property. His father, John W. Williams, was born in South Carolina.

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When he talked with Tuttle half a century later, Harris recalled Williams living at a different address. InEve L. Crawford sees Williams clinging to a railroad tie in the water.

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Black Chicagoans faced insults, threats of violence, and even bombings when they moved into neighborhoods ly dominated by white people. When I stopped by the boulder in late July, butterflies were flitting nearby amid milkweed, prairie grass, and flowers.

Leaders of eugene’s black lives matter movement reflect on momentous year — for better or worse

There are no monuments visible above the grass in — only a few hetones here and there, sitting flush with the lawn and sometimes hidden beneath it. Then an employee in the cemetery office dispatched a groundskeeper to help me. We went to the funeral, and the mother knew me. Five months later, I asked if any additional documents had turned up.

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Census records show that Luella was born in in Georgia, but her maiden name and ancestry are a mystery. And as I was researching my recent Chicago magazine article chronicling the race riot, I found a few more details about him. A Sanborn fire insurance map from one of those marvel old atlases with the outlines of buildings shows a two-story brick dwelling with a basement at this address — in other words, a two-flat.

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Scrolling through the hundreds of residents in the building, I noticed an entry for John and Luella Williams. She might be one of the six people named Luella Williams who died in Chicago between and Most black Southerners moved north to escape racist Jim Crow laws and the threat of lynching, while hoping to find better jobs, schools, and homes. Search for:.

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As I walked down the rows, I noticed that all of the visible markers were from and I recognized the name as that of another race riot victim. Events Subscribe. This was typical of journalism in the early 20th century. The Defender whose historic issues are searchable with a Chicago Public Library card did publish a picture of Eugene Williams shown above at right on August 30,a little more than a month after his death. A smiling young man in formal clothing is dimly visible on the microfilm and digital scans.

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During my reporting, I contacted William M. Tuttle Jr. As I say, we met him and we liked him. Subscribe to one or more of our free e-mail newsletters to get instant updates on local news, events, and opportunities in Chicago.