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Cairo - Civil Rights Era photos, 1967-73

Super Amputee Cat

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I was going to post these in Dan's recent Cairo thread, but wanted as many people to see these as possible and thought that a bumped thread would not be enough.

Here are some photos from the book Let My People Go: Cairo, Illinois 1967-73 edited by Jan Peterson Roddy with photography by Preston Ewing Jr.


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DetroitPlanner

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When I first saw the title, I thought Civil Rights Era???? After looking at the photos, all I can say is holy crap! I had no idea that issues like that were still going on as late as 1973. I'm almost embarassed to say this but I was a young child growing up in a 'mixed' neighborhood in Detroit at that time. I never saw issues like that. Its not that we didn't have our fair share of problems, but I never saw councilmen getting into fistfights or cops carrying clubs. By that time our city council was fairly integrated and by 1973 we had a black mayor. Yes there was a riot here in 1967, but it was not a race riot, it was a pissed at the cops riot. While I'm sure it had damaging effects on Detroit, it did not fully kill it like what has happened with Cairo.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Amazing photos. Some thoughts:

* I wonder what happened to everybody pictured in them. Did those carrying the swastika-laden signs stay in Cairo? How many left? Did those involved in defending civil rights go on to bigger things, or did they waste away in Cairo after things settled down?

* The Commercial Avenue scenes show a fairly healthy main street of the era; something one might find in a middle-class urban neighborhood or suburban village. There's parking meters, which indicates there's a moderate demand for parking. Many of the buildings and shot locations are recognizable today. I wonder what took the place of downtown Cairo as a regional trading and retail center. Sikeston, MO? Paduchah, KY? Metropolis, IL?

* No obese people. When I was in Cairo, the sight of people who were weight-proportionate-to-height was rare. Then again, the sight of anyone was rare.
 

boiker

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Amazing photos. Some thoughts:

* The Commercial Avenue scenes show a fairly healthy main street of the era; something one might find in a middle-class urban neighborhood or suburban village. There's parking meters, which indicates there's a moderate demand for parking.

My small hometown in Illinois, about 16,000 in the 60s and 70s, had parking meters well into the mid-80s. Once a new strip mall was developed in the northern portion of town, the downtown lost its prominance, declined and then the parking meters were removed.
* No obese people. When I was in Cairo, the sight of people who were weight-proportionate-to-height was rare. Then again, the sight of anyone was rare.

Think about the changes in diet since the 60s and 70s. Think about the size of supermarkets today. Now, think about how many aisles in the supermarket contained processed or pre-prepared food. Its a fact that the impoverished typically eat the worst diets. I'm not 100% sure on the data behind it, but processed food tends to improve mood at the severe cost of your health. Also, downtown encourages a park-once and walk model. Where do you think these people shop now? It probably isn't somewhere where they can walk.

I wonder what civil riots would look like in current-day small town and sprawlburbia. Would the riot car pool to the local mall or Wal-Mart parking lot? Would they all hop in seperate vehicles and proceed like a funeral procession to the office park where City Hall is?
 

H

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Amazing photos. Some thoughts:

* I wonder what took the place of downtown Cairo as a regional trading and retail center. Sikeston, MO? Paduchah, KY? Metropolis, IL?

according to my wife who grew up in the area (in Mo, in between the 3 cities more or less), they went to Paducah for anything non Wally World related (i.e. new "cool" school clothes, prom dresses, computers, you know, "fancy" stuff like that that. They go to Sikeston for Wally World and to go out to eat, because it is techically the closest city to their home (by mabye a few minutes, but try getting them to drive the extra minutes to get the better BBQ in Paducah! :p )

* When I was in Cairo, the sight of people who were weight-proportionate-to-height was rare. Then again, the sight of anyone was rare.

In case you dont know, guv'ment cheese is processed. (I know that sounds snotty, but look at the incomes in this area - as boiker points our, eating healthy these days seems to only be a luxury of those with money - but yall know that...).
 
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Hceux

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Wow, thanks SAC for sharing these photos with us.

All of the recent revived discussions about Cairo makes me want to read that book that someone recommended about Cairo. Perhaps a Christmas reading?!
 

mgk920

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What is the general demographic of what is left of Cairo, IL? Will that place ultimately disappear completely, becoming a true ghost town?

Mike
 
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