Chicago, the “city of neighborhoods,” was a center for 1970s community activism. This article uncovers the history of Northwestern University’s Center for Urban Affairs (CUA), which worked behind the scenes to create networks—and supply research—that helped Chicago community organizations be so effective. Their work was directed by two veterans of the civil rights movement, John McKnight and Stanley Hallett. Both were committed to “liberating data” and sharing it with community organizations, who used it to remake institutions so that they served rather than exploited surrounding areas. CUA students and faculty pursued research questions raised by community organizations while questioning existing institutional arrangements. CUA activities cast new light on 1970s neighborhood activism in Chicago, which produced innovations in credit, housing, health, municipal resource allocation, and more. Their approach remains critical today, as urban universities again seek models for nonexploitative, mutually beneficial relationships with surrounding communities.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies
- 1970s neighborhood movement
- Community Reinvestment Act
- Harold Washington
- Home Mortgage Disclosure Act