Who burned the St. Lukes Methodist Church on the south side of Chicago during the holidays?

We had just finished our Christmas pageant in the sanctuary. I was only 10 in December of 1965 and didn’t like being in shows since I was pretty shy back then. I think I was angel because I vaguely remember my mother and Ms Elaine, my Sunday School teacher helping with my wings. But I was going to do this because my father was going to come and watch. He was not a regular church-goer as I called then like me and my Mom. We attended St. Lukes Methodist Church at 93rd and Paxton on the Southside of Chicago. My first religious experience. My mother sometimes taught Sunday school and made new friendships. It is where I also met my friend Sue who I still talk to today. The pageant, however, is not a strong memory because of the arson fire that took place days later. In January of 1966, one arson fire followed eight days later by a suspected second arson fire at St. Luke Methodist Church.

The church served only about 100 families but we enjoyed the smaller space for it gave my family more opportunity to be involved. After the first fire, we were hopeful due to some water damage, we still gathered hymnals to save as well as other remnants and church carried on. My friend of over 50 years, Sue and her brother retrieved quite a few things from the burning building. She still has two of the small footed bowls, above, that the ladies served the cranberry sauce in at their turkey dinners. And her brother had painted a paint by number of the last supper or the face of Jesus that he retrieved. But it was the second fire that destroyed the pulpet. It was completely blackened with soot and as a young girl, I remember thinking how could anyone destroy Jesus…his image. My mother just told me she thought it was a young man who came to the church off and on but had some mental issues. Even after researching, I don’t think anyone was arrested for the crime. The remainder of the church was torn down.

According to the History of Southlawn church, picture above, around 1965, the Calumet Heights Community began undergoing racial change and transition, as did Southlawn. African-Americans were welcomed. In January 1966, one arson fire followed eight d Some believed that the fires were related to then pastor, John K. Brown’s active support of civil rights. Following the arson fires the St. Luke congregation was merged with Southlawn. In 1968, the Methodist Church abolished the Central Jurisdiction. Portions were added to the Rock River Conference which was the predecessor Conference of The Northern Illinois Annual Conference. The merger created The United Methodist. I did go through the confirmation process at Southlawn but it was just not the same.

My friend Sue believed that the church was too small and has to be subsidized—a lot of force mergers at the time. Plus negotiations were going on for the merger with another denomination to become the United Methodist church. She distinctly remembers discussions at her house about the 100 families in the church. Her dad insisted they could get $1000 pledges from each family to rebuild and most members were in agreement. It is was her understanding that politically it was just not to be allowed because of finances and the merge with Southlawn was forced by the bishop at the time. The racial discrimination and further integration of the neighborhood may have played a large role but Sue or I never heard any issues about that: all she heard was the financial issues.

Presidential cool history

Caryl Clem:

An all American favorite with coast to coast popularity, resulting in the United States leading the world in the consumption and production of ice cream. As the first President faced setting a precedent for firm leadership and gracious hospitality, George Washington purchased the equipment and recipes to serve “ICE CREEM” based on the French method of including eggs and milk.  George Washington thought that strawberries and ice creem were “heavenly”. As a leading Lady hostess, Martha Washington served this new delicacy every Friday night at the receptions featured in the first White Houses in New York and Philadelphia. Dolly Madison carried on this tradition by promoting her dinners advertising the inclusion of ice cream specialties.

George Washington delayed retirement to breed dogs and raise hybrid plants to become our first leader.  He was sworn in April 30, 1789 promising faith and integrity to lead our nation forward.  He appointed the first Presidential Cabinet containing both Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton who were at opposite spectrum on political beliefs. George insisted on compromises that unified the nation to include all interests. During his terms he negotiated 5 treaties and convinced the Spanish to relinquish lands west of the Mississippi. When he left office after two terms: he commented that he regretted that the emerging political parties to gain power were losing sight of strategies to unify the country.

Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were other Founding Fathers determined to enjoy ice cream at any cost ordering supplies from England, Italy, or Spain. Variations of ice cream depended on the recipe origin, Florence influenced, or French not to leave out frozen ices that contained no dairy ingredients. During colonial times many savory flavors such as “ Oyster” were popular. The current reigning favorite American standby vanilla first prospered in Philadelphia with actual vanilla bean pieces visible. A former free black White House chef,Augustus Jackson,became a successful restaurant and catering businessman opening black ice cream parlors in Philadelphia.   The first time ice cream is sold to the everyday working class. Even though he never patented his recipes or business ventures, he has earned the name of the Father of Ice Cream in the U.S.  July is National Ice Cream month designated by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

African American Inventions Improve Our Daily Life

By Caryl Clem:

Through the last 100 years, when faced with a problem that needed a solution, African American inventors created products we still use today.  A common example, today’s ironing board with a narrow to wider proportioned curved board. A former slave woman whose main job was ironing women’s garments had moved from Craven County, North Carolina to New Haven, Connecticut after the Civil War.  The president of Yale College in New Haven was a fervent supporter of blacks acquiring the same standard of living as whites. In 1892 when Sara Boone was 60 years old, she patented the device as a cheap, efficient method to iron clothing. Previously, square planks on stands or across chairs were used for ironing.

Do you love to climb stairs or would you rather ride an elevator?  An unsung hero that invented the automatic elevator door is Alexander Miles. His own granddaughter nearly fell down an elevator shaft due to a faulty door. Since his patent in 1887, it’s the base of ones manufactured today.

If you have traveled on a main road, your safety was increased by the installation of the 3 Way Traffic Light Systems.  A successful African American inventor, Garrett Morgan, was the first black man to own a car in Cleveland, Ohio where he witnessed a terrible carriage accident. He was confident that a warning yellow yield light would decrease accidents. He patented his 3 Way Traffic Light in 1923 that was later sold to General Electric. His patents ranged from friction clutches in cars, hair straightener, breathing devices in safety hoods firefighters wear, gas masks, and sewing machine improvements. He left home after an elementary school education.

In 1940 a method to cool the roofing of a truck by Frederick McKinley Jones was the start of a new industry, refrigerated trucking.  Now supermarkets could receive from other areas perishable meat, fish, fresh eggs, bread, dairy, vegetables, fruits, medical supplies, donated blood, and flowers. During World War II his idea made possible sending supplies to our troops of food, blood and medical supplies. He had 60 patents.

Dr. James West was given the assignment to develop a sensitive, compact microphone while working at Bell Labs. He co-founded the electret transducer with Gerhard M. Sessler that is used in  90% of microphones. During his career he had 250 patents and was a professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Pioneer computer trailblazers include African American Dr. Mark Dean who was the first African American to win the Black Engineer of the Year Presidential award in 1997. He was the chief engineer at IBM heading a team of 12 members.  At career’s end, he held 3 of the 9 original IBM patents. Dr. Dean was responsible for the color IBM monitor and co- founded the Gigahertz chip that increased processing speeds at a billion calculations per second. . He developed with his colleague Dennis Moeller, The Industry Standard Architecture that allowed plug in devices such as disk drives, printers and monitors to go directly into the computer. He was inducted into the National Inventor Hall of Fame in 2001.

African American Inventors are a bulwark of our national strength and capability.