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Albert Anderson Raby (1933 – November 23, 1988) was a teacher at Chicago's Hess Upper Grade Center who secured the support of Martin Luther King Jr. to desegregate schools and housing in Chicago between 1965 and 1967.
Raby was born into poverty in Chicago, dropping out of school in the sixth grade. However, he became involved in a union, and, after a stint in the army, earned his grammar school diploma at age 24. He went on to earn his high school diploma immediately after that. Because he discovered education was important so late in his life, he attended day and evening school to earn his high school diploma. In 1960, he earned a teaching degree from Chicago Teachers College and entered the profession.
Raby was an active member of the Teachers for Integrated Schools and helped form the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) in 1962. In this role, he served as the link between the national civil rights movement and Chicago organizations in helping to desegregate schools. In 1963, Raby helped organize the Chicago Public School Boycott. TFIS selected him to be their delegate to the CCCO. On January 11, 1964, he was appointed the organization’s convenor (Anderson and Pickering 129).
The CCCO was crucial in bringing the national civil rights movement to Chicago. When Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Chicago on his People to People tour, he recognized that the "CCCO represented the strongest indigenous civil rights movement in the North", [Ralph 39] and he appreciated the help he received during his three-day visit. When the movement was officially launched, Raby became its co-chairman.
As a member of the Agenda Committee, Raby was instrumental in the decision to choose open housing as the initial campaign for the movement. Even before the movement began, Raby had criticized the segregationist policies of the Chicago Real Estate Board. Along with King in July 1966, he attended the initial meeting with Mayor Richard J. Daley where the demands of the movement were presented. Raby also served as a leader of open housing marches, using his position as a local leader to draw upon those in Chicago communities affected by housing segregation.
There was a significant rift between James Bevel, of SCLC, and Raby. When Raby agreed with the cancellation of a march on the Southwest Side because he feared that the focus was on white violence rather than housing discrimination, he was met with anger by Bevel.
After the summit negotiations between the movement, government, and the business community began. Raby was an effective negotiator; accustomed to empty promises from the government, "he wanted to hear guarantees of real progress... when would blacks be served by realtors?" After the formal end of the open-housing marches and the departure of the SCLC from Chicago, Raby continued to lead the CCCO and its protests, none of which had much success.
Raby was the Director of the Peace Corps in Ghana from 1979–82. Afterwards he returned to Chicago and was the campaign manager for Harold Washington's successful mayoral campaign in 1983. Washington appointed him to head the City of Chicago's Commission on Human Relations in May of that year.
Raby collapsed and died from a heart attack on November 23, 1988.
In 2004 a Chicago Public High School named after Al Raby was opened. Located in the Garfield Park neighborhood, Al Raby High School for Community and Environment focuses on social justice issues as well as geographical information systems.
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