Laura Washington: Pressing the question – Building on a Legacy

Laura Washington: Pressing the question – Building on a Legacy – Brief Article

What has race got to do with it? The Chicago Reporter has been asking that question since 1972, when civil rights activist and visionary John A. McDermott launched a publication that would serve as a watchdog on issues of racial equity. With generous and courageous support from the Community Renewal Society, founding editors McDermott and Lillian Calhoun created this singular, dispassionate monthly to report, illuminate and analyze the race question in ways that would hold the city’s leaders accountable and provoke change.

We have pressed that question, again and again. Our reporting has made new laws, wiped out discriminatory policies and practices, helped bring down a fire chief and elect a mayor. I have been privileged to serve alongside dozens of talented journalists who have won more than 100 awards for journalistic excellence. Our distinguished alumni have moved on to press the race question at news organizations around the world.

But nearly 30 years later, race still dominates every urban issue, from child welfare, education, criminal justice, health care, housing, corporate responsibility, government and politics.

Race matters. Just ask the two little boys who were wrongfully charged with the murder of Ryan Harris. Listen to the grammar school athletes of St. Sabina Academy. Talk to the families of Robert Taylor Homes as the towers tumble around them.

Chicago’s burgeoning yet marginalized Latino communities will tell you why race still matters. And it mattered deeply to the Arab and Muslim residents of southwest suburban Bridgeview–long before Sept. 11.

As I move on, I will continue to press the race question in my own work, through book projects, public affairs television, and commentary–on a national level, right here in Chicago. You’ll keep hearing from me. Alysia Tate, my successor, and her stellar staff will carry on with brilliance, integrity and vision.

We are infinitely grateful to you, our loyal readers, for your faithful support. You are critical players in every arena–community organizing, public policy, the media, government and politics, academia.

The Reporter can identify the problem, but you must provide the solution. Bring us your ideas, vigilance and wisdom. Demand a response to our investigations from every quarter; the corporate boardroom, legislative chamber, mayor’s office, church sanctuary, union hall. Force the media to respond to our neglected communities. Hold civil rights organizations accountable. Speak out when others are silent.

What has race got to do with it? The Reporter will continue to press the question. But the answer must come from you.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Community Renewal Society

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group