Appreciation for the Chicago Crusader

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Dear Mrs. Leavell:

I would like to express my appreciation to you and the staff of the Chicago Crusader for producing an excellent and much appreciated publication. I look forward with great enthusiasm to the delivery of the paper to my home in Houston and reading your coverage of local Chicago stories, historical accounts of Black history in America and the paper’s coverage of national stories.

I grew up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, which is 70 miles east of Chicago, along highway I-94, the hometown of former Chicago Bulls player Chet “the Jet” Walker.

Over the years, I have become such a fan of your publication that I gave a gift of a subscription to my father-in-law, who is 95 years old and resides in Shreveport, Louisiana. In the 1950s, my father-in-law attended Tuskegee University and as a student studying journalism, he spent his summers in Chicago, working as a “cub reporter” for the Chicago Defender.

Many people across America, just like my father-in-law and me, have some limited knowledge of Chicago, and we often discuss experiences when he was a young man and when I grew up visiting friends in Chicago, like Allen Smith and his brothers. Allen was my college roommate while attending Michigan State University and a dear friend who ushered me around his hometown for many years until his passing.

The common theme for all of us when thinking about growing up in the Midwest evolves around the history we all share, in that we actually represent the six million African Americans whose families left the southern states during the period from 1916 to 1970, known as The Great Northward Migration, Black Migration and landed in Chicago, and in my family’s case St. Louis, Missouri and Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Mrs. Leavell, with this introduction, I hope that you understand the profound importance of your publication to me. Each publication is like a time machine that, for a brief period, allows my mind to recall being in Chicago, and relating to the issues that refer to the South Side versus the North and West sides; politics from the “Daley Machine” to Harold Washington and President Obama; the Chicago Wards; geographical differences between Schaumburg, Chinatown, the lakefront, and legends like Ernie Banks, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and so much more.

In reading the Crusader, I follow this logic when deciding where to start. The headlines, of course, get my attention, then I turn to the education section. My career in higher education (as former president of Texas Southern University, interim Chancellor of the University of Houston, Vice President for the Tennessee Board of Regents System, and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education), compels me to carefully read what brother Dr. Conrad “Worrill’s World” was up to. Dr. Worrill’s articles presented historical facts and various individuals who were trail blazers in constructing various philosophies regarding the conflict between a majority white dominated society and a minority Black population on just about all topics under the sun. (I can relate to his character development as a young man that stems from his training as a disciplined track athlete).

The next section that I turn to is “The Chatterbox,” as it always provides a good laugh and this section speaks to the disharmony that exists in all communities. It reminds me of community gossip that is a stumbling block for all communities. Even though I abhor gossip, I read “Chatterbox” as a way of reading hidden agendas. As an example, the competition to have a President’s library among universities and cities requires a [bold] major fund raising, and most communities in America fawn over having a President’s library, except as noted in the Chatterbox, “some folks in Chicago’s Black community.”

I encourage you to continue to provide the paper version of news because I prefer it. I am concerned that digital versions of stories are too short sighted and do not provide a 360-degree view of issues, which results in poor coverage and a misled public.

An educated person is able to combat ignorance when provided with a balanced presentation of the pros and cons of a position before taking a stance, which is hard to obtain when one is interrupted with pop-up advertisement.

My sincere congratulations to you and your staff writers for a job well done.

Dr. John M. Rudley

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