This project engages the work of Harold (“Hal”) M. Baron (1930-2017), former Director of Research for the Chicago Urban League (1962-1968) and, later, public policy architect of the historic mayoral campaign of Harold Washington, followed by a tenure as the Chief Policy Advisor for the Washington administration. Harold Baron initiated and influenced key struggles against institutional racism and economic inequality. He earned his doctorate degree from the University of Chicago. In the 1960s, he worked to advance the cause of civil rights as the Research Director for the Chicago Urban League, and provided research on institutional racism in Chicago to Martin Luther King Jr. Baron is one of the original proponents of racial formation theory, which remains one of the most salient theories of race relations in the social sciences and historiography. Baron was the initiator of the historic lawsuit against the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the 1960s, which led to the largest desegregation program in the nation’s history, the Gautreaux project, widely considered the Brown v. Board of Education of housing law. Following a lifetime of public service, research, and theoretical investigation of modern race relations, Baron became involved in economic and ecological development of base communities in Central America. He served as Chair of the Board of Directors of EcoViva, a Central American organization engaged in environmental, economic development and social justice work, principally in El Salvador, involving such U.S. progressives as Jeff Haas, co-founder of the People’s Law Office, in Chicago, and anti-globalization theorist Naomi Klein.
At the core of this project are two unpublished manuscripts, and the development of website and digital content platform to serve as a portal to Hal Baron’s legacy. The first [Manuscript 1] An American Dilemma: Reconstructing the Rhetoric of Race is an extensive, but unfinished, manuscript written by Baron. The second, [Manuscript 2] Through a Plate Glass Darkly: Studies in Racial Transformation of Harold Baron, consists of a compilation of writings by Baron, edited by Sundiata Cha-Jua and Lou Turner.