As part of the Christ the King Parish Community Mass and Picnic, the 50th anniversary of Beverly Now will be celebrated. Beverly Now was a presentation fostered by the Christ the King Human Relations committee to ask that the parish help fund an initiative to promote racial integration at a time when Chicago’s south side neighborhoods were rapidly resegregating.
Beverly Now was prepared and presented by Christ the King parishioner L. Patrick “Pat” Stanton. Delivered from the pulpit during weekend Masses in the summer of 1971, Beverly Now encouraged the community to openly discuss racial integration; oppose the tactics of “white flight” being fueled by fear, greed and misinformation; and help fund the reorganization of BAPA from a volunteer neighborhood group into a community organization that could help Beverly/Morgan Park become a successful diverse community.
Christ the King parish pledged $15,000 to support Beverly Now, and the plan grew into a community-wide campaign, drawing funding and support from other institutions.
BAPA reorganized and paid staff was hired. Initiatives focused on fostering real estate practices that encouraged integration not resegregation, conversations that addressed the benefits of integration, a public relations campaign that inspired pride in the community and all its remarkable amenities, and investing in community and commercial development.
“The parish was able to make a difference in the community because people were listening to the message,” said current Christ the King Pastor Fr. Larry Sullivan.
Was Beverly Now the perfect plan? Scrutinized against what we know about social justice today, no. But despite its flaws, Beverly Now and the people of Christ the King parish who committed to work together to do what was right, offered an option that South Side community residents and prospective home buyers 50 years ago did not think was possible: Integration.
Let’s keep working together on the social and racial justice issues that still need to be resolved.