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

Mr. Jordan from the South End neighborhood of East St. Louis Interview

Date of Interview: Saturday, October  19, 2002

Interviewers: Adam Wroblewski, Suzy Malmloff-Pawula, Lana Vilchik, Adam Murry, Ariel Clemenzi-Allen, Niki Nutter


    Mr. Jordan was born, raised, and has lived all of his life in the city of East St. Louis with the exception of two and a half years he spent in the U.S. Army stationed in the South Pacific starting in 1944, and six month he spent in Arizona.Since his parents died when he was a little kid, he grew up with his uncle and aunt.His education includes the catholic school on 13th and Broadway in East St. Louis and attending Lincoln High School for a year.Mr. Jordan worked as a packer in National City for 38 years, and then as a supervisor of the cleaning crew at the Farimount Racetrack for 9 years.He also had a successful boxing career.  He has one brother, one sister, and one daughter.Currently retired, Mr. Jordan is actively involved in his local neighborhood organization, SENDO.

Summary of the Interview:

    The main topic of the interview was the social, economic, and demographic history of East St. Louis as seen through the eyes and memories of a member of the local neighborhood organization.The first part of the interview dealt with the narrator’s biographical information.The body of the interview focused on the narrator’s perceptions on East St. Louis’ prosperity before the 1950s, its economic decline in between 1960 and 1990, and its comeback in the 1990s.The last part of the interview regarded the narrator’s involvement in the South End New Development Organization.

Quote Highlites From the Interview:

“As long as I can function, and can [laughs] remember some things I hate to leave East St. Louis, you know…. [T]his is my home.”

“Any time that a person was in distress or whatever, the neighborhood was there for you. And there was a bond between the people in the South End that was very nice.” 

Mr. Jordan talking about the sense of community in the South End before the economic decline.

“I couldn’t bowl in East St. Louis. We wasn’t allowed to. So we picketed that, and finally we got them to break down discrimination in the bowling alley and we were able to bowl.”

Mr. Johnson talking about his involvement in the civil rights movement with the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE).

“I’m sure that [East St. Louis] can make a comeback. I believe it can. Maybe not in my lifetime you know, cause I’m 77 years old. It looks like it’s just very, very small steps at a time.”

His optimism and patience was inspiring. 

“I was telling a young lady an hour ago that I call it a ‘falling away of the mens’ in the city. Even in churches. I visit all churches, you know, and the mens is just not there in the church. Why? is a good question. I don’t know why. The mens is not involved basically in anything. They seem like they satisfied with what’s going on. Without womens we would be in bad shape not only in the city, but in the churches too.”

A: What other kinds of people would you like to see get involved with SENDO?

Mr. Jordan: Younger people cause they’re the ones that are gonna have to take over. They keep the ball rolling, you know. Like I said I’m 77. I don’t know when my last days gonna be. But I’d like to see the young peoples, you know, get involved.

“I think that you guys doin’ a beautiful job.” Mr. Jordan on UIUC’s involvement with SENDO’s renovation projects.




Photo essay

Interview Cover Sheet

SENDO flyer

Document author(s) : Adam Wroblewski, Suzy Malmloff-Pawula, Lana Vilchik, Adam Murry, Ariel Clemenzi-Allen, Niki Nutter
HTML by : Adam Wroblewski, Suzy Malmloff-Pawula, Lana Vilchik, Adam Murry, Ariel Clemenzi-Allen, Niki Nutter
Last modified: October 25, 2002
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