â€œâ€¦Gardnerâ€™s leadership in the construction saga is a continuation in the struggle to bring sanity to an insane matter in the Chicago area. His efforts to shed light on what is happening at the Beverly site are now highlighted throughout these United States and will prayerfully open the eyes of those who thought these injustices would not be exposedâ€ â€“ Rev. Harold E. Bailey, President of the Probation Challenge PCC Broadcast Network Â
Gardner was a powerful force in electing the first black mayor of Chicago
By Juanita Bratcher
It was awesome! So many familiar faces at a construction site protest rally in Beverly at 95th & Western, called by former Businessman Edward Gardner.
The protest rally was reminiscent of the â€œHaroldâ€ days â€“ as Chicago Blacks refer to it â€“ thatâ€™s when many in the black community mobilized efforts to elect a black mayor of Chicago. Long before the 1983 Mayoral Election, they were readying themselves to retire the sitting Mayor Jane Byrne. They were fired up, fed up with the shenanigans of Chicagoâ€™s power structure, specifically Byrne, whom they had placed at the top of their list. There was a strong, overwhelming desire and sentiment to oust her from the City Hall post due to her administrationâ€™s policies, her appointments to the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Chicago Board of Education, and prior to, had boycotted her annual ChicagoFest. In the end they prevailed; Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago and Byrne was on her way into oblivion.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Juanita Bratcher gives a thorough assessment of grassrootsâ€™ efforts
Â to elect a Black mayor of Chicago in her book, â€œHarold: The Making
of a Big City Mayorâ€, Copyright (R) 1993.
So it was somewhat de je vu, when Gardner, an 87-year-old Icon, a few days ago raised the eyebrows of the black community once again, asking 10,000 people to joinÂ him at the construction site to protest the absence of black contractors working there.
The protest started after Gardner was outraged when on Friday, September 22, he saw concrete being laid and other construction going on at 2210 West 95th Street, and not a single Black worker in sight.
â€œEvery worker was either Caucasian or Hispanic,â€ said Gardner, â€œexcept the foreman, he was (East) Indian.â€Â Â
Gardner stepped out of his car with the intention of â€œwallowing in the wet concreteâ€ in spite of the foreman’s warnings.Â This quickly got the attention of the foreman, and before Gardner could make good his threat, two squad cars arrived.Â Shortly afterwards, Alderman Howard Brookins was at the scene. There were also four police officers. They begged Gardner not to do this.Â Finally, Gardner retreated, but not before promising to return Monday morning at 10:30 a.m. to stage a one-man protest by walking through the wet concrete.
When next he visited the construction site, Gardner stuck his cane in wet cement to protest the lack of African American workers.
But on Sunday, Gardner again was leading the pack. Â Once again, he had fired up a somewhat dying Movement since the Harold days. It appeared that activists had hung up their activism caps and gone into oblivion.
Â Gardner had beckoned them back to the cause and they resoundingly responded. Thousands rocked the area with picket signs in tow. Activists walked the construction area with great pride as in the Harold days when hundreds of volunteers gave freely of their time to the Movement to get Harold elected. And ironically enough, they were here this time to help Gardner in his efforts to get more black tradesmen employed at the Beverly site.
Gardner and thousands of participants called for jobs for black journeymen in the various trades. CopyLine Magazine interviewed some of those tradesmen and the renowned Attorney Sam Adam, one of the attorneys that represented former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagoevich in his first trial for trying to sell the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama. In the end, a federal jury convicted Blagoevich on one of 24 counts â€“ lying to federal agents, but was deadlocked on 23 others.
All interviews are posted on Youtube.com. The interview with Attorney Sam Adam is also posted on the Cover Page of CopyLine Magazineâ€™s web site, www.copylinemagazine.com.
Rev. Harold E. Bailey, President of the Probation Challenge PCC Broadcast Network and once served as Chairman for Gardnerâ€™s Black on Black Love â€œNo Crime Dayâ€ in Washington Park, called Gardner a â€œFather figureâ€ to thousands.
â€œMy introduction to Mr. Ed Gardner extends back to his relationship with the late Justice R. Eugene Pincham with whom I worked as his personal Probation officer,â€ Bailey recalled. â€œThese two men were giants that had so much to offer â€“ not only to the African American community, but to the world.
â€œMr. Gardner brought the first â€˜No Crime Dayâ€™ to Chicagoâ€™s Washington Park which informed thousands of crime preventionâ€¦he led the prevention charge with dignity, but carried a big stick of justice. He, along with his Black on Black Love organizationâ€™s Executive Director, Frances Gutter-Wright, decided that I become the Chairman of the historical event. And everything was done under the guidelines of Mr. Gardner.
â€œAnd even today, Gardnerâ€™s leadership in the construction saga is a continuation in the struggle to bring sanity to an insane matter in the Chicago area. His efforts to shed light on what is happening at the Beverly site are now highlighted throughout these United States and will prayerfully open the eyes of those who thought these injustices would not be exposed.â€
As reported in the Harold Book, authored by Juanita Bratcher, Edward Gardner, former owner and President of Soft Sheen Products, played a pivotal role in getting Harold elected mayor of the City of Chicago.
Â â€œGardner pumped thousands of dollars into a citywide voter registration drive â€“ one of the most successful endeavors in voter registration history in the city of Chicago.
â€œAt a V.O.T.E. Community Breakfast at Soft Sheen Products Corporate Office, 1000 East 87th St., Gardner emphasized the need to register new voters,â€ in 1983 when efforts were under way to elect a black mayor.
â€œThe problems in Chicago are very, very deep,â€ Gardner said in the book, published in 1993. â€œBut they are problems that can be resolved. You can have no effect on the way this city is run if you donâ€™t vote.â€
Gardner pledged support and financial backing of voter registration efforts. A V.O.T.E. committee member said $78,000 of the $80,000 spent toward the media campaign to register new voters in Phase I was contributed by Gardner.
Gardner, at the time, emphasized that Soft Sheen was involved in voter registration because â€œweâ€™re interested in improving the quality of life for Black Americans, but specifically Black Chicagoans.â€ Â Â
In the words of the Late Mayor Harold Washington discussing his 1983 primary election win:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œPeople can speak when they want to speak, and they speak loudly and clearly.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In doing what has to be done â€“ after a hard fought battle â€“ the people won this
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â campaign.â€
Gardner is still speaking loudly â€“ with back-up from thousands of admiring supporters â€“ to bring justice to black journeymen that for years have been fighting discriminatory practices in the trades all across the country.
Juanita Bratcher is the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com, the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 35 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.
Photo Caption: By Clarence McMillan
Web Site Developer: Pamela McMillanÂ