East. St. Louis Oral History Project: Neighborhood Activism and Community Change

October Work Weekend -- 26th-27th October, 2001

Interview with Henry Peete
Interviewed by: Emily Scott, Greg Jones, Lisa Herst, Kevin Butler, Nadine Walter, Mariah Dell, and Robin Berman

Henry Peete

Birth date: 1940
Occupation: Horse Groomer
Neighborhood Organizations: Committee of Emerson Park, Zoning and Planning Committee

 Mr. Peete was born in Fayette County Tennessee where as a child he picked cotton alongside his family. In 1959 Mr. Peete left the South to travel North where he eventually settled in East St. Louis after a brief stint in Chicago. Currently Mr. Peete is a groom man for thoroughbred racehorses but has also worked as a machinist in a boat factory. Mr. Peete has a wife and two daughters and spends his free time involved in neighborhoods organizations and church groups.

Quotes from the Interview:
Mr. Peete spoke of the importance of youth involvement in community affairs in order to train leaders to pick up the responsibilities that will be left when todayís leaders step aside. The dedication and hard work that has shaped Mr. Peeteís life inspires us to continue to work among our communities and be those leaders of tomorrow.

"Then factories started movin out, movin out, movin out, movin out. When I came to the East Saint Louis, the population of this town was 86,000" ~Henry Peete

"86,000 when I came here. And itís been droppin off, droppin off, droppin off." ~ Henry Peete

"Before I leave I would like to see this city back together, like to see it back together, Emerson Park will be one of the richest part of East St. Louis. It will be. And. Emerson Park is fifty-five blocks. And. Iím hoping it will have a green land. If its gunna be green, let it be a park." ~ Henry Peete

The deterioration of East St. Louis and the current revitalization of the region. What caused the region to end up in its current state and what can be done to bring about positive changes both economically and socially for the residents of East St. Louis. Mr. Peete is currently involved in many neighborhood organizations. He discussed his hopes and dreams for the community along with his past experiences.

        UIUC  students help beautify Lansdowne neighborhood.                 P hoto of housing developments in Emerson Park.

Go to the Interview