Oral History Project

Pinkie Whittaker, Emerson Park Activist

Date of Interview: September 29, 2001
Interviewers: Melissa Chataigne, Keshia Collins, T.J. Blakeman, Dan Di Santo, Matt Hoffman
Place:  Emerson Park Development Corporation Incubator, East St. Louis, Illinois
Biography: Ms. Whittaker was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. Her mother raised her along with five brothers and five sisters. Two of Pinky's siblings died crossing the Mississippi when Pinkie was younger. She moved to East St. Louis during this time. Her father, estranged from her motehr, worked at a glass factory while her mother worked occasionally at the 'rag race' or on other small jobs out of the house. In 1976 Pinkie moved to the Emerson Park area, and has since been involved in the revitalization of that neighborhood.

"What do I like best about it [Emerson Park].......My Neighbors"  -Pinkie Whittiker-

Summary: In this interview you will find information on the East St. Louis of the past.  Follow Pinkie as she grows up in a thriving railroad city and slowly watches her city fall to decay.  Follow as she discusses her goals for the city and how she plans to make a differnece.  Some of the topics covered were urban flight, industrial decay, downtown condidtions, community safety and new residential develpoment.  She was provided a grass-roots look into both the poverty and the hope of East St. Louis.Pinkie has played a large role in getting the comunity of Emerson Park cleaned up and helping direct it toward a better furture. This is a 35 minute interview conducted by students of the Urban Planning Department and Community Health Deaprtment.

"Why do you stay [in Emerson Park]?"........"Cuz I love it!"  "If I had the choice to live anywhere in the world, I believe I choose East St. Louis because it's so down to earth!"  -Pickie Whittiker-

[Read the Transcribed Interview Here!]

Housing In East St.Louis


Emerson Park: Parsons Place, new single family, market rate develpment

Pictures of East St. Louis Housing

Emerson Park: Single family home, Rehab Project

Emerson Park: Parsons Place, new sinlge family, market rate development

Emerson Park: Single family home, Rehab Project

Emerson Park: New multi-family housing, affordable housing project