Airport Homes Race Riots

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The Airport Homes Race Riots were a series of riots in 1946 in the West Elsdon community of Chicago. [1] It was the worst episode of racial inspired violence that the city faced in some thirty years.[2]

“Airport Homes” was the name of the site in nearby West Lawn established by the Chicago Housing Authority to provide temporary housing to returning veterans and their families during the postwar housing shortage. Residents of West Lawn and West Elsdon rioted and succeeded in intimidating a few black war veterans and their families from joining white veterans in the homes. [3]

The upheaval against blacks happened during the working hours while the white men were at work, which meant that the elderly and the women were the ones who started the riot. [4]

The West Elsdon Civic Association became one of the first vocal political enemies of the CHA and its first executive secretary, Elizabeth Wood. Opposition to public housing remained strong in the area. In the early 1970s the West Elsdon Civic Association was an active participant in the “No-CHA” citywide coalition opposing scattered-site public housing in predominantly middle-class white neighborhoods. [5]

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