CHICAGO (CBS) — The day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, there was outrage, riots and much of the West Side of Chicago was left in ruins.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on the North Lawndale community that has struggled to recover but is not giving up.
Chicago’s West Side, the night after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was slain.
“People were angry about Dr. King being gone because Dr. King gave us hope,” says former Cook County Commissioner Bobbie Steele.
She was a school teacher in 1968, living just blocks from Roosevelt Road.
“You could see the blaze just leaping from the buildings,” remembers Steele. “It looked like an inferno.”
There were 600 fires that night.
And more the next night.
“The police were all over the neighborhood, telling people to stay inside. There was looting,” says Steele. “You could see people going inside and bringing out bags and bags of groceries and whatever else they could bring out.”
28 blocks of Chicago’s West Side were left in ruins.
More than 200 businesses along Madison, Roosevelt and 16th Street were destroyed.
Today, the community is still littered with vacant lots.
“There’s been no real economic development in over 50 years here,” says Rodney Brown.
He’s one of 300 community and business leaders who are joining forces to revitalize North Lawndale.
They know others have tried before.
“This time it’s going to be done by the community,” says Brown.