Black Chamber finds NAACP Statement on Calumet County Club Redevelopment to be a “Travesty” (Homewood, IL) – The proposed warehouse development project that is seeking to go into the Calumet Country Club in Homewood has been the source of controversy in the Southland region. Proponents of the project claim an increased tax-base, economic development, and jobs, while opponents site environmental and safety concerns. The Village of Homewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted to not recommend the project to the Village Board, who will be meeting tonight to conduct regular village business on top of voting on this project. A no vote would de-annex the property from Homewood.
Yesterday, the NAACP Chicago Far South Suburban Branch and their branch president Gary Dingle released a statement praising the Planning and Zoning Commission for choosing to not recommend the project. “The NAACP commends the courageous zoning board for voting against the rezoning of Calumet Country Club,” said Dingle. “We encourage the Board of Trustees in Homewood to follow their recommendation.”
In response to the statement, Southland Black Chamber of Commerce & Industry president & CEO and Southland Journal publisher Dr. Cornel Darden Jr. said, “I think it’s a travesty Mr. Dingle would abuse his position as president of a local NAACP branch to misinform the public into believing that his personal views represent the black community. I also find it very troubling that Mr. Dingle would praise the Zoning and Planning Commission after their publicly racist actions against me and the Black chamber. I was accosted and assaulted outside a meeting with racial epithets being hurled at me, and the Zoning and Planning commission found Black issues to be irrelevant to the zoning issues, despite the racist history of the country club. I was repeatedly intimidated by a police officer who refused to take my statement about being assaulted. This resulted in two police reports being filed. The Chamber’s Facebook page has also been under attack, with our hard work being undermined by project opponents.
“The areas that surround Homewood are lacking jobs and economic opportunity. Illinois ranks highest in the nation among Black unemployment. This area houses a huge percentage of the Black population in Illinois. To deny us economic opportunity and employment is horrible.” He further stated that, “we recently initiated a protest against Governor Pritzker’s office with US Congressman Bobby Rush to compel Governor Prizker to approve a similar warehouse development project in Joliet. Mr. Dingle is aware of this and he is also aware of the racial nature of the anti-truck movements in Homewood and Joliet. Instead of standing up against racism in these instances, Mr. Dingle has chosen to intentionally misinform the community.”
In addition to Dr. Darden’s statement on the topic, Brian Mullins, president of the Illinois Black Contractors Association, has spoken out in support of the project. In a statement made to the South Cook News, Mullins stated, “You’ve got four villages that really cross streets that divide them all and three of those are very low-income areas that definitely need jobs. You have people in those areas currently traveling farther away from home for the same type of logistical warehouse jobs, so why not let them have one in their own community?” His statement is similar to a comment made earlier by Dr. Darden, who stated that these types of developments have been brought to communities such as Romeoville and Bolingbrook for years. He says that these communities have since seen their local economies boom, with housing, restaurants, and shopping following the warehouse developments.
When asked for comment on this particular issue in Homewood, Illinois State NAACP President Teresa Haley voiced her support for the Southland Black Chamber of Commerce, stating, “As the President of the Illinois NAACP State Conference, I fully support Dr. Cornel Darden Jr. and the Southland Black Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the hard work that they do to help bring jobs and economic opportunities to the Southland.”
Furthermore, a search on the NAACP Far South Suburban Branch’s Facebook page found the following comment by a user, “You need to step down as NAACP President….but then again, no one cares what yall talk about anyway…. Are you going to employ the Black people in Hazelcrest and Markham? Always siding with White people….Typical NAACP……While WE fight for contracts and sustainable employment for ADOS….You are fighting for White peoples bushes….LOL…Do better!!!!” A screenshot of the comment can be found below:
Black Chamber finds NAACP Statement on Calumet County Club Redevelopment to be a “Travesty”