They Left So Quick

“All these white folk were leaving these homes. The homes to me were beautiful.”


Produced by Sydney Jarol with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.

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Transcript for They Left So Quick

Speaker 1: I remember as a young woman being shocked that all these white folks were leaving these homes. The homes to me were beautiful. They were in neighborhoods I couldn’t go into freely. And they left so quick! It was just like, “Wow!” And as I could understand it as a young woman, I thought they were leaving because they helped put a black man in office as mayor of Gary. And because it appeared that he affiliation with this motorcycle club, Sin City Disciples, they were terrified. That’s what I thought, and I believe there were others who thought the same thing.

Speaker 2: I know for my own self, so seeing the what happened after white flight, coming up in Gary, that when I would see other neighborhoods that were beautiful or that you could tell at one point they were beautiful, I always wondered, “Who lived in these homes? Why are these homes so empty? Who wouldn’t want to live in these homes?” And I guess your experience is different from mine because I was a kid when I saw all of this change.

Speaker 1: The white flight was just really shocking. I couldn’t understand as a young person what the problem was. They still had their neighborhoods to themselves, but they didn’t want ‘em anymore. And there was a lot of black folks who bought the property, and they paid a lot of money for that property. I think that some of them got so far in debt, they couldn’t keep that property, especially after the mills, the steel mills, started permanently laying people off and other industry in the area started closing. And I’m sure that impacted not only our black families, but white families as well. But I think we kind of feel it harder cause we already know we gonna be down there at the bottom as far as our ability to earn a fair wage with white folks and any other kind of folks. We know that.

Speaker 2: Now that the neighborhood has changed over there, there are a lot more empty houses, a lot more empty lots, and we’ve also seen an influx of people from Chicago move in. And it’s not always been some of the best as far as neighbors go. Some of them we know they’re doing unsavory behavior.

Speaker 1: That’s true. That’s true. You know, change can be positive and change can have negative aspects to it.