A bit of history
Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013
* From Kankakee Daily Journal columnist Phil Angelo…
* I was born in Kankakee, as were most members of my dad’s family. Here’s a pic of my dad and me in my grandma’s front yard on Tanner Avenue, near the old Roeper factory, where my dad and at least one uncle worked…
Roeper’s closed in the 80s and moved to Florida, devastating Kankakee. It was a rough time for everybody back then - 19 percent unemployment in a town that had always been bursting with jobs.
* Back in the 60s, the local bank’s big electronic sign that advertised their interest rates and local charity events used “KKK” as shorthand for Kankakee. K3 wasn’t known as the most liberal town for race relations, to put it mildly.
White flight plagued the city of Kankakee for decades. Whites flooded into nearby bedroom communities in Kankakee County (or out of state when the jobs dried up in the early 1980s) when the schools were desegregated, and I heard lots of stories about street fights and protests during those times.
I don’t think I have a single relative who still lives in the city, but several live in the county.
* Anyway, I don’t know the real purpose of this except to say that I find Angelo’s column and Porter’s nomination fascinating, considering the history. And maybe we can convince my dad to tell a few stories in comments.
Also, I should stress here that I am not at all ashamed to be from Kankakee. Yeah, it had its problems, but what town didn’t? The challenge has always been overcoming those problems, and that’s where Kankakee hasn’t really measured up. We’ll see what the future holds.