Remembering Leroy Watkins


On Sept. 31, former residents of Robert Taylor Homes came out to remember the late Leroy Watkins, who also happened to be my uncle.

One young man, Eric Guy, described Leroy as a valuable member of the community. He was always thinking of others, especially the young people. Leroy moved his family into the Robert Taylor Homes building at 4555 S. Federal St. in April 1962.

Residents remember Leroy as someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand and opening his door to others. He organized a little league team called the Twins for the young men of the development. Later, he formed softball teams called the Invaders and Invaderettes to keep the teenage boys and girls of the development out of trouble. Read more »

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The Life of Artensa Randolph


Public housing legend Mrs. Artensa Randolph passed away on Aug. 19, 1997. I have compiled a list of tributes and interviews to her. Let’s start with a passage from her memorial book:

Mrs. Artensa Randolph was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on October 1, 1915. Mrs. Randolph was a product of the old, southern Black work force, beginning her early employment picking cotton on the plantations in Pine Bluff. She moved to Chicago in 1937, in search of an improved quality of life and initially found employment in the stockyards. Eventually, she achieved her career goal as a community Representative for the Chicago Board of Education, a position from which she retired after 20 years of service. This position afforded her many opportunities to know the people and the communities of Chicago.

In 1962, Mrs. Randolph moved into the Chicago Housing authority’s (CHA) Washington Park Homes where she lived for the past 35 years. Upon her arrival she quickly became involved in the tenant’s rights movement, which, much like the civil rights movement of earlier years, was organized primarily to address the inequities faced by residents of public housing. Mrs. Randolph was at the vanguard, uniting residents to address the sharp decline in public housing upkeep and maintenance and pushing for affordable and decent housing; a movement which continues today. Mrs. Randolph determination helped change the face of Chicago public housing. Through her efforts, modernization funds for CHA were suspended until appropriate recognition was given to the resident organizations and until a Memorandum of Accord, outlining the residents’ partnership with CHA was signed.

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