Cairo: Part II
December 3, 2010 9:14 PM Subscribe
Could punk rock save Cairo, IL? (Previously.)
posted by wayland (27 comments total)
9 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe not. What about Reddit
A hundred years and some odd years ago, Cairo, Illinois
was a thriving town on the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. So what happened? First, a group lynched
Will "Froggie" James, a black man accused of murder (withoutsanctuary.org has a set of prints, numbers 41 through 50, not for the faint of heart
). Another lynching the next day was barely averted
with the help of a police uniform and the local militia. 58 years later, Pfc. Robert L. Hunt Jr. was found hanged in his jail cell. The FBI elected not to investigate
, despite obvious bruises and dubious arrest details. This and a deep-seated racial divide led to a boycott of white-owned businesses by the city's sizable black population. With the nation's lowering reliance on river transport, Cairo's economy went into a tailspin.
Nowadays, Cairo is pretty close to a ghost town
. "There is still no industry here and many still don't have jobs... people are in a state of depression."
. Enter Chris Clavin (a.k.a. Christ Johnston), co-founder of the staunchly DIY punk Plan-It-X Records
: "Last summer, PLAN-IT-X packed up and left sunny, cultured, punk as hell Gainesville, FL. for the down on its luck river town of Cairo, IL
... It's a place with a great history and a long history of bad luck. Most people haven't heard of it. We came here to get away from McStarMart and drunken college kids who don't really care about anything. We also came to do something to make Cairo a little better."
Things could have gone better. "The residents of Cairo [were] nonplussed by the newcomers, whose presence they view as voyeuristic -- and temporary."
Tragedy struck - beloved co-founder Samantha Jane Dorsett
died. Then the roof of The Ace of Cups, the coffee shop and bookstore started by Clavin and company, fell in
(link is a particularly fascinating progress report on the Plan-It-X forums). Plan-It-X has since moved home to Bloomington, IN
; The Ace of Cups is now for sale
A group of Redditers
calling themselves Project Cairo
might just take up that offer.