Dr. Julian [Oak Park talks reparations, News, Feb. 24] was not the first black resident in Oak Park. Many came before, such as the Pope family. They had the livery stable on Westgate. There were many horse-drawn carriages and wagons years ago; check out the doorways with rounded cement entry for wheels. They were respected. The fires were from lanterns; we did not have electric until 1910 in Oak Park — 1929 building code, only 1-story commercial because of fires.

Many years ago, most cities were segregated; you cannot change history. Oak Park was first to move forward. We made it to Newsweek for the whole country to see. I was in Springfield helping others to integrate. It worked.

So why are you going backward? Of course Black people were treated unfairly. So was I as an Italian in Beye School, my parents buying a house in 1948. Teacher said I was not acceptable. Is my father a gangster? What do you people eat? Can I see your house?

Joan Riess, Oak Park

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