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The Militant, 22 June 1946

Robert L. Birchman

Incendiary Bombing of Negro Widows Home
Perpetrated by Race Terrorists in Chicago

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 25, 22 June 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


CHICAGO, June 16 – After a six weeks’ conspiracy of silence by local authorities, the story of the incendiary bombing of Mrs. Grace Hardy’s home on the night of May 2 has been exposed by Mike Bartell, Chicago organizer of the Socialist Workers Party.

Mrs. Hardy, a courageous Negro widow, purchased a house at 315 West Garfield Boulevard, just a few blocks out of the overcrowded Negro district on Chicago’s South Side. This district is commonly called the “Black Ghetto,” where the Negroes are confined by restrictive covenants.

Mrs. Hardy lived in her house with her two sons. She rented out the second story to two Negro tenants who met considerable hostility from many of their white neighbors. This and the fact that three nights after Mrs. Hardy moved into the house three white boys were seen flashing searchlights in her yard were the only warnings she received of the impending disaster.

Ball of Fire

On the night of May 2 at 9 p.m., as Mrs. Hardy was walking from the kitchen just after supper, she heard a crash and saw what appeared to be a ball of fire coming straight at her through the window. She lifted her arm to ward off the flaming object, which later was found to be an incendiary bomb.

Flaming gasoline was sprayed all over her body. Displaying great presence of mind, Mrs. Hardy wrapped herself in a comforter to smother the flames. One of her tenants extinguished the fire.

Mrs. Hardy stayed in the house, fearful of the assailants outside, until the Fire Department arrived. She then went to a nearby drug store where there were two teenaged boys at whom a man shouted, “You crazy boys started the fire.”

The fire chief stated that the bombing had been carefully planned!

The bomb virtually demolished the kitchen and pantry. Large holes were blasted in the ceilings and walls, which are burned and scorched. Although Mrs. Hardy was able to move out her furniture, the house has been entered on several occasions by vandals.

Still in Hospital

Mrs. Hardy has been in the hospital since the night of the bombing. After more than six weeks, she is still swathed in bandages. Entire areas of her face, arms, chest and legs are burned and raw.

On the night of the bombing, Mrs. Hardy was questioned by four detectives at the Englewood Hospital. Since that time the police officials have ceased to investigate. They have made no attempt to apprehend and punish the criminals responsible for this monstrous race-hate crime.

The bombing of Mrs. Hardy’s home is part of a pattern of threats and violence against Negro families striving to escape from the overcrowded areas of the “Black Ghetto.” Mrs. Hardy is one of the courageous Negroes who are attempting to break down restrictive covenants.

Efforts have been made to force her to sell her property at a considerable financial loss. Since Mrs. Hardy’s financial means are limited, unless she secures aid she will not be able to meet the payments on the property and it will be foreclosed.

The Crusader, militant champion of the rights of the Negro people published by the Negro Labor Relations League, has organized “The Grace Hardy Emergency Fund” to raise funds to aid her in holding on to her. home. Contributions to the fund should be sent to The Crusader, 305 East 39th Street, Chicago 15, Illinois.

SWP Statement

Mike Bartell, Chicago organizer of the Socialist Workers Party, who first brought the facts in the Hardy case to light issued the following statement in the name of the Socialist Workers Party:

“A real fight must be waged against these terrorists who attempted to destroy the life and home of Mrs. Grace Hardy. This fight is part of the struggle for decent housing for the Negroes of Chicago who are now penned up in a ‘black ghetto.’ It is also part of a fight against the Ku Klux Klan vigilantes who are raising their despicable heads throughout the United States. They have lynched Negroes and burned their homes in Fontana, California; in Columbia, Tennessee; Freeport, Long Island, and elsewhere.

“The cowardly hooligans who almost succeeded in burning Mrs. Hardy to death must be smashed. The right of Negroes to live in Mrs. Hardy's home must be maintained by the formation of defense guards by the organized labor movement of Chicago.

“The whole labor movement, the Negro organizations and all progressive organizations must form a united front to carry on this fight to a successful conclusion. To this fight’ the Socialist Workers Party pledges its unflagging support.”

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