Living Legend Ties an Old Chicago to a New America - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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In Chicago’s Grant Park, Sen. Barack Obama, a Chicago native, could possibly accept the position as the first black president of the U.S.. For some, the thought seems inconceivable, for others the racial injustices of this country’s past seem light years away.

For one 96-year-old, the memories are real. After years as a public speaker and pastor, Rev. Marion Earle Sardon’s voice is crackly and soft but at the mention of the nation’s two most famous “community organizers,” Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sen. Barack Obama, his voice, though still hoarse, regains its vigor.

Sardon’s own work as a community organizer attracted Martin Luther King Jr. away from the Jim Crow South and Desegregation to witness the hostile racism of the North. King visted Chicago at Sardon’s behest in 1966. His visit was not pleasant. During one of his peaceful marches on Chicago’s Southwest side, residents threw rocks, knives and set fire to vehicles.

“I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the South,” said King. But I can say that I have never seen –even in Mississippi and Alabama — mobs as hostile and hate-filled as I’ve seen in Chicago. I think the people from Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate.”

Today, Sardon and his flock have set aside the day to pray for the senator at their small church in Chicago’s impoverished and violence-filled Englewood neighborhood, but tonight, Sardon, will be watching Obama’s election night rally from home. His knees are weak so even if he had one of the 70,000 tickets that were distributed, he would not be able to stand among the crowd for any length of time. Besides, he has already stood up for a lot.

Sardon has been fighting for equal rights since 1937, when at the age of 24 he organized a group called the Consolidation Tenets Association to fight real estate companies in Chicago who charged blacks exorbitant rent compared to other races. Later, he started the Negro Labor Relations League and campaigned against companies that refused to hire black workers. They picketed theaters, phone companies, banks, and trucking companies.

“In 1959, Black people in the city had $92 million on deposit at First National Bank in Chicago and there were no blacks on staff; not even scrubbing the floor,” says Sardon.

“We picketed stores, demonstrated and spoke on street corners of the city. His demonstrations against the top Chicago companies served to create jobs for black people in city banks, on construction projects and in public service jobs.

Even though Sardon’s life work has been to extend civil rights to black people and create jobs in their communities, he doesn’t think that Obama, if elected president should “show his blackness.”

“He will be the president of the entire country. Whatever he does has to be fair to all citizens; white, black, green or red. I expect that he will and

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.