Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

A Groundbreaking 1961 Documentary Laid Bare Chicago's Racial Disparities

Ten years after the Cicero riots came an award-winning film called The City of Necessity.
relates to A Groundbreaking 1961 Documentary Laid Bare Chicago's Racial Disparities
YouTube

Mid-century Chicago was far from a harmonious place. Through the first half of the century, thousands of African-Americans moved into the city from the South. Whites, often angrily, resisted the changing demographics, crassly referring to local neighborhoods as "good" (white), "going" (changing), or "gone" (black). That kind of attitude was demonstrated perhaps at its worst when thousands of rioters in 1951 attempted to stop a black family from moving into a new apartment in the industrial suburb of Cicero. 

Ten years after the Cicero riots came an award-winning documentary called The City of Necessity, produced cooperatively by the Chicago City Missionary Society. In it, we see a Chicago that, despite a spree of new public housing construction, was far from solving its persistent poverty and racial tensions.