History of Community Organizing in Chicago

By Josh Joh-Jung
New Organizing Project blogger

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Aight ya’ll. I know I ain’t been here in a minute so my bad. But ay freals this whole college thing is a doozy. No joke. So lemme go ahead and make up for time lost and give ya’ll a quick history lesson on grassroots organizing in Chi-town.

Chicago – the windy city, infamous for it’s freezing long winters, Italian beef, deep dish pizza, and community organizing? Chicago may not look like a lot from the outside but this city has been at the heart of community grassroots movement dating back to the early 20th century.

So lets first begin with a man who set off a chain reaction organizing in Chicago, Saul Alinsky. This cat got started in the neighborhoods of Chicago getting folks interested in forming various organizations for improvement in way of life and equity. He taught people how to structure modern community organizations and created a legacy for future community organizers. His philosophy of radicalism involved direct confrontation and action in an effort for change and to bring more people involved in the movement. In other words, it’s a very straightforward, forceful, aggressive attitude demanding change in the establishment. His book “Rules for Radicals” teaches the homies and homegirls his street-smart tactics and frank analysis of political situations and continues to influence thousands of community activists.

Today the city of Chicago is a hotbed of political activity and organizing. There are many more groups with various campaigns addressing local, national, and international issues. Organizations like FYSH, IYJL, and MCYP improve conditions using the methods of Alinsky and by working with other community and government organizations in a collaborative effort.

So Chicago ain’t just home to some of the best food in the nation 😉 but also home to some of the most active community organizing efforts in the nation. So come on down to Chi-Town! 😀

Sorry for being so behind >_< I’ve had a lot of stuff piled on but its all good now 😀

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  1. did you also know that Saul Alinksy’s friend (or colleague) Herb White introduced the model of community organizing to South Korea in the late 1960s? 🙂