Reprint from We The People Media Residents’ Journal
Public housing legend Mrs. Artensa Randolph passed away on Aug. 19, 1997. I have compiled a list of tributes and interviews to her. Let’s start with a passage from her memorial book:
Mrs. Artensa Randolph was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on October 1, 1915. Mrs. Randolph was a product of the old, southern Black work force, beginning her early employment picking cotton on the plantations in Pine Bluff. She moved to Chicago in 1937, in search of an improved quality of life and initially found employment in the stockyards. Eventually, she achieved her career goal as a community Representative for the Chicago Board of Education, a position from which she retired after 20 years of service. This position afforded her many opportunities to know the people and the communities of Chicago.
In 1962, Mrs. Randolph moved into the Chicago Housing authority’s (CHA) Washington Park Homes where she lived for the past 35 years. Upon her arrival she quickly became involved in the tenant’s rights movement, which, much like the civil rights movement of earlier years, was organized primarily to address the inequities faced by residents of public housing. Mrs. Randolph was at the vanguard, uniting residents to address the sharp decline in public housing upkeep and maintenance and pushing for affordable and decent housing; a movement which continues today. Mrs. Randolph determination helped change the face of Chicago public housing. Through her efforts, modernization funds for CHA were suspended until appropriate recognition was given to the resident organizations and until a Memorandum of Accord, outlining the residents’ partnership with CHA was signed.
In 1964, Mrs. Randolph was elected President of the Washington Park Homes Local Advisory Council. In 1976, she was elected President of the Central Advisory council. She was re-elected to each position in all subsequent elections. Devoted to improving the quality of life for public housing residents, Mrs. Randolph had the distinction of becoming the first CHA resident appointed to the CHA Board of Commissioners by the late Mayor Harold Washington. Mrs. Randolph was re-appointed to the CHA Board of Commissioners by Mayors Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. After the Department of Housing and Urban Development became receiver of the CHA in 1995, Mrs. Randolph was appointed to the Executive Advisory Committee by Mayor Daley.
Mrs. Randolph was devoted to her family. She was a mother who truly loved her family. There are many who can tell stories of Mrs. Randolph’s love for her family and friends. In fact, she had so many godchildren many did not know exactly who were all the biological offspring. Every child in the development was a member of her extended family.
I interviewed Anthony Todd, a longtime friend to Mrs. Randolph:
“I listen to people say how well they knew Mrs. Randolph and what wonderful things she had done, also the incidents they had with her in their lives. I saw Mrs. Randolph as a teacher and she was a teacher.