Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cairo, Illinois: Self-destruction by Racism

Education: What's Natural in Cairo

For 75 years, Illinois has had a law against segregation in public schools, but the city of Cairo (rhymes with faro) has never paid much attention. Cairo (pop. 12,400) happens to sit well below the Mason-Dixon line at the point where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet. To all intents and purposes, it is a Southern town, and its 4,000 Negroes and 8,000 whites live out their carefully segregated lives accordingly.
Gem Theater

Negroes do not go to the Gem Theater, where the first-run films are shown. They do not eat in the white restaurants, or use the public library; and while the whites swim in the WPA-built pool, the colored folks, as the townspeople say, must "drown in the river." The schools have been separate as long as anyone can remember. Says Mrs. John C. Fisher, owner of the Cairo Citizen: "We've just never thought that this wasn't natural."

Cairo is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and is the southernmost town in the state of Illinois.
Elementary Answer. By last week, Cairo's dream of the segregated life had been rudely shattered. For the first time in years, fiery crosses burned, and the magnolia-lined streets echoed with shots and explosions. The reason: two field workers from the midwest regional office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had moved into town to end segregation in the schools once & for all. They had persuaded dozens of Negro parents to apply to have their children transferred to schools used by the whites.

School Superintendent Leo C. Schultz saw no alternative but to send the applications through for "processing." Other citizens, however, had a more elementary answer. As darkness fell one night, a band of men planted a ten-foot cross on top of the Mississippi levee near a Negro housing project. They planted another on the Ohio levee, and still another on the outskirts of town.

The next night there was more hooliganism. One band of hoodlums appeared on the lawn of a two-family Negro house, planted another cross and set it ablaze. Then they moved on to the home of Negro Dentist James C. Wallace Jr. and blasted away at his house with a shotgun. The next night, a bullet zinged through a window of Dentist W. A. Fingal's house. About the same time, a dynamite bomb exploded in Negro Physician Urbane F. Bass's backyard. Another bomb was tossed in front of the tire shop belonging to Vice President Henry Dyson of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.

The longest civil rights boycott occurred in Cairo, IL. The boycott lasted for 10 years.

Conspiracy? Police, who insisted they knew who might be guilty, succeeded in rounding up only four young men suspected of being involved. But their performance of duty did not stop there. Last week they arrested eight N.A.A.C.P. members, charged them with "conspiracy to do illegal acts" and with "forcing [children] by threats and inducements to enter school." They also arrested two Negro mothers who wanted their children transferred to white schools. This, said the police, was "unlawfully causing and permitting children to be placed in such a situation that their lives and health were endangered."

In the City of Cairo, Illinois, the public swimming pool (at 24th and Sycamore) was changed to a "private pool" to remain segregated. It finally closed in 1963 to avoid integration. Now the former "whites only" swimming pool is permanently filled with concrete and grown over with weeds. This was the city's response to court-ordered integration.

Apparently, things were almost back to "natural" again in Cairo. One by one, Negro parents had withdrawn their application for transfers. At week's end, only 13 frightened Negro children were in Cairo's six white schools.


  1. Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. And sometimes it's more brutal.

    The truth is: A teen girl was humiliated by black teens accused of snatching off her top in a public swimming pool. She was then followed into the shower where, she says, two of the black males restrained her while two other molested her.

    The fiction is: Hollywood has produced a number of movies demonizing White people who prefer racially segregated swimming. Hollywood also "entertains" us with films such as To Kill A Mockingbird in which White people are taught to sympathize with black males accused of raping White women.

    Socially tolerant

    Hollywood uses movies to condition White people to tolerate black-on-White crime,
    such as rape.

    The truth occurred a few days ago in Texas. Arrested are four black males, all members of the local high school football team. [source]

    An Austin, TX newspaper reported, "Leonard Leon Scales and Tommie Lee Robins Jr., both 18, are facing charges of felony sexual assault and felony unlawful restraint, the affidavits said. Two other teens, 17-year-old Curtis Dennis Franklin and 19-year-old Deionta Wayne James, face felony unlawful restraint charges, the affidavits said."

    1. You obviously don't know anything about Cairo. Truth is that a black soldier home on furlough was murdered by police because he had the audacity to speak to a white woman. Truth is the city fathers of Cairo would rather fill the public pool with concrete than allow one black child to swim in it. The truth is that the majority of whites in Cairo thought of blacks as subhuman. As a white conservative living in the area, I personally know that these things are all true. Hating a person for the color of his skin is evil whether the person is white, black or any other color of the spectrum.

    2. You are not a white conservative.

  2. FoxSnooze:

    If, as you say, the above story is true (cite your historic sources), then it was a crime against those INDIVIDUALS, not the ENTIRE BLACK RACE.

    The swimming pool in question was a PUBLIC swimming pool, funded by PUBLIC tax dollars (both black and white taxes). There isn't a tax code in the USA where African Americans are exempt from paying local and state taxes for goods and services. Furthermore, on the W2 and W4 forms there isn't a "blacks don't pay taxes" exemption. So, if public money (local, state and federal) and blacks pay taxes in the state of Illinois, in the city of Cairo and in the USA, then the public facilities should be open to all citizens.

    FoxSnooze stated that: "Hollywood uses movies to condition White people to tolerate black-on-White crime, such as rape."

    Again, please cite the movie that tolerates rape of white women? The entire black section of Tulsa, OK was decimated, because a black kid stepped on a white woman's foot in an elevator. Every house was torched, innocent men were lynched, children were orphaned and an entire city of African Americans were left homeless. For one black man stepping on the foot of one white woman.

    Susan Smith blamed an fictitious black man for car-jacking and kidnapping her children that she subsequently drowned in the river herself. Yet, all black men were subjugated to a violation of their 4th Amendment Rights for HER white-on-white matricidal murder of her own white children.

    The good people of Cairo, Illinois, chose to not integrate. They cemented the pool and now its a ghost town. I could, an most likely will, post more on Cairo, Illinois racist past. The Copperheads of Southern Illinois have a notorious record of lynching, police brutality, reverse underground railroad (kidnapping black children and selling them into slavery), along the Mississippi River.

    Illinois was a slave state, the slaves mined the salt in Southern Illinois, and the French were governed by the Code Noir of Louis XVI that permitted slavery.

    Keep reading, I try not to use conjecture, but facts and historic records and eyewitness accounts. You should read the entire blog, because you're correct, history is much more interesting than fiction.

    --Ron Edwards
    US Slave

  3. Cairo is soon to be under water by orders of their God of their universe, Allah. Goodbye Cairo.

    1. You have it all wrong--we are a good town and I love all races.

  4. Racist city was bound to reap the world wind from the God of these poor defenseless Black people. The floods today is that world wind. Good bye Cairo.

    1. you seem to be against good white people or all white people

  5. I'm not sure how I stumbled on this blog post while searching for the Illinois law on medical records retention and disposal, but I'm rather glad I did.

    Cairo is not a ghost town yet ... lol ... and we're still safe and dry. In fact, we're enjoying a gorgeous spring down here!

    You might be interested to know that Cairo is the subject of a newly released full-length documentary. "Between Two Rivers" was filmed over the past couple of years and includes a lot of archived film from the 1950's and earlier that's never been seen by most people. It won the Audience Choice Award at the Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale last month, and every showing at the Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah, KY has sold out. I recommend it highly to anyone who is curious about the history ... and the present life ... of Cairo. The magazine article from 1952 was not the end of the Cairo story! You can find out more about the film at the link:

    If anyone is REALLY curious, they're welcome to come by and visit us. : )

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I spent the better part of my childhood in Southern Illinois, not Cairo, but in the area the call Little Egypt.

      I actually love that part of the country, and I get so disappointingly frustrated by the intransigence of the structural racism. Cairo could be such a cool little river town. It certainly could have made choices that were inclusive for ALL of its citizens, like education, job opportunities and housing. I'm not anti-Cairo, I'm just disappointed with the discriminatory choices of Cairo.

      Small towns should be the lifeblood of big states like Illinois, Chicago gets the lion share of the government goodies, while the small towns are dying of the vine.

      One day this country will include ALL of its citizens in the American dream. It's possible to provide education for everybody, we have the resources. We just need to find the will.

      Yes, this is an old article, we try to find primary resources. Maybe I'll do a follow-up article on Cairo, but this article is at least more contemporary than the Civil War articles on Camp Cairo or the Contraband Camps in Cairo that I posted.

      Thanks again for visiting.

      --Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

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  7. As I seek out more context and background on the current events in Ferguson, Mo., various bloggers -- as well as Google -- keep directing me to your site. Keep up the good work Ron!


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