FOCUS/midwest

Founded in 1962 by Charles L. Klotzer

Paul Simon on southern Illinois in ’62

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paul-simon“In my home town of Troy, when I first came here in 1948, there were many people who really believed that there was a regulation that no Negroes could be in the city after dark. There are still no Negroes living this community of 1,800 people, but they have been in the city to sing in a church, or present a high school program, or simply attend a Sunday morning service. We are not so startled when we walk down the street and see a dark face. When my wife and I have had overnight guests who were Negroes, no one has said a thing. They simply assume that whom we want to have for guests at our house is our own business. The ‘issue’ is gradually dying.

“There still are struggles, but the direction is clear. Even the defeats indicate this.

“At Mound City there were two ‘attendance centers’ for one high school district. One, by coincidence (as far as the law is concerned), was all white. One was all Negro. Both were very small and there was no economic excuse for the two high schools existing. In the fall of 1961 they integrated — and fired all of the Negro teachers. The latter action is now being questioned in federal court. I believe the action of firing teachers clearly violated state law, as well as the federal law on which the court action is based. But state officials were reluctant to handle this ‘hot potato.’

“Yet even this reverse — if it stands up in court — cannot offset the fact that the student population has been integrated and some day the faculty will be also. […]

“The day will come when ‘the south will rise again’ in Illinois — in the good sense. We want to grow economically. We want to grow culturally. And we want all our citizens to share in that growth.” — Paul Simon, “How Southern is Southern Illinois?” FOCUS/Midwest magazine, July 1962

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Written by writer. Edited by editor.

November 13, 2008 at 10:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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