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PHOTO ESSAY

Dr. Martin Luther King and the Chicago Freedom Movement

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A worker cleans up at 1321 S. Hamlin Ave.

Courtesy of the Chicago Defender. Published February 24, 1966.

Shortly after his arrival in the city, King began his first experiment in methods to empower residents of the slums. In February, tenants at 1321 S. Hamlin came to King for help. The SCLC and CCCO together with the Westside Federation became extralegal 'trustees' of the building with the tenants paying their rent to the SCLC, which used the money to make repairs. Male tenants of the building were hired as laborers and paid King's proposed new minimum wage, $2.00 per hour. (The minimum wage in 1966 was $1.25.) King told Betty Washington, a reporter for the Defender, that the experiment of taking over that building would give Movement leaders insight into "the kind of social planning that might reverse this trend of degradation of our nation's cities and contribute to the kind of community awareness that will bring new life and new hope to the slums of this city." In this image, King looks through a crawl space opening into the building's basement which workers are cleaning out.

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