East Saint Louis, Illinois is a very small city it has a total of 89 streets as of today. Around in the 1860’s the city used to be called Illinois town. It was the fourth largest city in the state of Illinois. People knew one place they could get a job was in this city. The name East Saint Louis came about because of the terrible reputation it had when it was known as Illinois town so they decided to rename it hoping to overcome all the challenges they were facing. Jobs started to vanish, riots broke out and blacks moving there was the cause of all this.
Most of the blacks that lived there came from down South where living conditions couldn’t be much worst. If they had a chance to move their children they did. They didn’t want their children to experience the life of picking cotton as they had. The whites there were upset and weren’t going to let the blacks take their jobs.
As time grew and more blacks start to come, the more jobs started to leave so as the jobs started to leave the Population started to decline meaning taxes were higher and cuts had to be made. One investor had in mind if he bought some vacant lots that he could make a little money on the side, because the federal government was going to provide funds for “turnkey housing” to be scattered throughout the city, so the empty property will be his quick get rich scheme. When the housing Authority began building Low-income housing, real-estates agents and developers made a lot of money building and selling houses in West Belleville. The whites started to flee once they started to build in their neighborhoods.
As time as started to pass things started to get worst, Violence were people were hurt, Homes being broken into, people being robbed, and killed. The population in the 1960 was around 81,728, as of 2011 the population is 27,000, with an estimated 14,000 resident living in public housing that leaves the tax burden on the 13,000. Forty percent of the residents draw public aid. The blacks who are able are fleeing away from the city as well. This makes the population continue to drop.
In 1972, James Williams was the town black first Mayor he defeated Charles Merritts even though Merritts had the support of the white Democrats. Thereafter Merritts was sentence to federal prison for taking kickbacks as president of School District 189 Board of Education and also for putting a contract out to kill Clyde C. Jordan, a great leader for the town who was a fellow school board member and publisher of the Crusader black weekly newspaper.
In the present year we can see that nothing has changed. All the corruption of this town has been going on since the beginning of time. Nothing really has change, we might see a new promising building here and now but the wrong people still holds the key to the scene of this all. We as citizens of East St. Louis, IL hopefully one day get the courage to stand up for what’s right and not worry about the consequence we might endure. Change is good and the city of East Saint Louis needs a tremendous change and we as the people can and shall make that happen.