Lutrelle and Jorja English Palmer Mansion
“It’s enough to make a Negro turn Black!” – Lu Palmer
The Panther with a Pen.
Since 1976, 3656 King Drive was the home of community activist couple Lutrelle “Lu” Palmer and Jorja English Palmer until Lu passed in 2004. After moving to Chicago in 1950 he started writing for the Chicago Defender, which is where he became known as ‘the panther with a pen’. Despite a heavy amount of racism, Palmer was also a columnist for the Chicago Daily News where he would take stories from other publications and remix them to be published for the newspaper. Palmer’s written voice and spoken voice reached city-wide. He not only reported for the Chicago Defender and Chicago Daily News, but he also produced columns, edited or broadcasted with the Chicago Courier, the Tri-State Defender, the WVON’s radio shows “Lu’s Notebook” and “On Target”, and his self-published Black X-Press Info Paper. He used his pen as a weapon in a time when news wasn’t simply reporting the facts, it was transforming the political landscape. Simultaneously he worked as an activist in Chicago’s Black communities. The Palmers were the founders of the Chicago Black United Communities (CBUC) in 1980 and the Black Independent Political Organization (BIPO) in 1984. Both were instrumental in the election of Mayor Harold Washington, the first Black mayor of a racially segmented Chicago, in 1983.
About the mansion.
This mansion was built between 1885 and 1888 for Justice D. Harry Hammer by architect William Wilson Clay. Since 1980 the small building directly behind the mansion has been used for the organizations Chicago Black United Communities (CBUC) and the Black Independent Political Organization (BIPO), which are still very active to this day.