The murder of a west side black politician in the early 1960s is one that the city just didn’t want to solve according to our guest today on the Chicago Justice Show, Mick Dumke from ProPublica Illinois. We discuss his latest piece titled “The Murder Chicago Didn’t Want to Solve“.
According to Dumke Lewis was the first black alderman elected on the west side of Chicago. The 24th ward then and now encompasses large swaths of the North Lawndale community. As blacks starting to move to this west side community the Daley political machine knew they had to at least attempt to show the new residents that the machine had their interests in mind. To do this the machine recruited and promoted a black man to run for alderman. One they knew would not challenge the status quo of political corruption as well as mafia control of vice and gambling in the community. As anything in the 1960s in Chicago there was all kinds of mafia, political, and police intermingling in Lewis’ life and murder. Of course the last person we know that saw Lewis alive was a Chicago Police officer. There is even an FBI report about the murder that states the machine was purposefully spreading rumors about Lewis in the local media so the public wouldn’t care about the loss of this politician.
Dumke’s story is a fascinating deep dive in to the intersection of the political machine and the mafia told through the life and murder of a west side black politician that seemed to have a cozy yet complicated relationship with both. Dumke isn’t able to identify the person responsible for the murder but instead he goes in to real detail about all the powers that be in the city and the community that had reason to see Lewis gone and his murder go unsolved.