“You’ve given status to people who would ordinarily not have it…thus giving them power and ability to make change.”
Rev. Dr. Gregory Jones
Edited by Rebecca Werner
Transcript for Still Working on the Revolution
I moved to Valpo in 1988. I met Walt Reiner maybe a year before. I was running something called the South Shore Community Unemployment Union. I had determined that what I was going to do was work for the poor and so I was doing that. In my work with the poor, I ran into Walt Reiner who was saying that he had done a program twenty years ago to help black families relocate to Valparaiso. He wanted to do it again and he needed some connections, and so I said, “Well, you know, I’ll check it out.”
Because I still had my socialist leanings and I said, “Well, the only thing that’s going to help women in this society is wealth, and so owning land in America is an indicator and a criteria of wealth.” So it means that—if I could help you get some land, then that means that I can actually, literally, shift your status with the bank. And so you become a different person from the bank’s perspective. I helped women of color relocate to Valparaiso. And they became property owners.
By that time, I had gotten married so Ida and myself said, “Well, we’ll relocate.” Because I wouldn’t want anybody to go into an all-white, middle-class community and not have anybody there with them. People were being hurt. People were throwing Molotov cocktails. People were painting swastikas. I started a church here thirty years ago. And I remember my kids coming to the back door of the church and saying, “What’s that?” And there’s a big swastika on the door, and I’m trying to explain to them, while they’re trying to get to Sunday School, why folks were painting those kinds of things on the door, you know? We started a couple organizations to try to deal with it. Most of the time, people try to cover it up. You know, say, “Oh, it’s just vandalism and stuff.” I’d say, “No, it’s real.”
And in my mind, I’m still working on revolution because that means that you’ve given status to people who would ordinarily not have it, and thus giving them power and ability to make change. And so that’s what I did. That’s how I got here.
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