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Officials Announce Study That Could Lead To National Park Status For Pullman

citizen | 2/8/2012, 4:35 p.m.
The historic Pullman community could soon find its place Americas national map if a plan...
At a special press conference on Jan. 31, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, announced that a study will be conducted as part of the first step in seeking National Park status for the Pullman community. The press conference was held in Pullman Park, a historic area in the country's labor and civil rights movement. Photo by Rhonda Gillespie

The historic Pullman community could soon find its place Americas national map if a plan announced by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-2nd, is successful. The congressman announced that he would be introducing legislation in Congress to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the area, home to A. Phillip Randolph, a leader in the African American civil-rights movement and the American labor movement, could become a national park.

Pullman was part of the nations civil rights struggle in the labor industry. Its rich history includes being the birthplace of the countys first Black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (Pullman porters) and being the site of Pullman Labor Strike of 1894.

Jackson was joined Tuesday by representatives from the Chicago Park District, Historic Pullman Foundation, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porters Museum, Illinois Labor History Society and the National Parks Conservation Association when he made the announcement in Pullman Park at 111th Street and Cottage Grove Ave.

By many definitions, the Historic Pullman Community is a unique American treasure. Pullman is perhaps Americas best opportunity to preserve and interpret an epic chapter in the great American story: the rise of the Industrial Age, said Jackson. The congressman is up for re-election this year.

The study is the first step to getting the national park status and could take one to three years to complete. After the study is completed, it would take acts of Congress to get the national park designation. The $250,000 cost of the study has already paid for through legislation that is already passed, the congressman explained. Jackson also said he swapped this study with mining and mineral studies that didnt happen.

Those on the dais with Jackson echoed the historical significance of the Far South Side community.

The Pullman community story is the story of America. It was here that thousands of men and women struggled to create a better life for themselves and their families. It was here in Pullman the dynamic and the genius of American manufacturing helped create the Industrial Revolution that transformed this nation, said Tom Server, vice president of the Illinois Labor History Society. This is a very significant, historical place.

He added that the rail cars built in Pullman made train transportation more comfortable.

Representing Gov. Pat Quinn who could not attend the event Sunny Fisher, of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, said that Pullman had recently been named one the most livable communities in the country by the American Planning Association.

The Pullman community is one of the anchors of Illinois history, she said.

Becoming a national park would bring jobs and revitalization to the community and boost local tourism, Jackson said. Other officials at the event added that property values would go up, as well. Pullman is one of the citys communities blighted by high crime and poverty.

Still, getting the national park designation can jump start and instill self-pride and community pride, said Lyn Hughes, Ph.D., founder of the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum located in Pullman.

By Rhonda Gillespie