The Washington Post‘s Haynes Johnson composed this invaluable, many-sided portrait of Peoria just as the Nixon Administration was collapsing under the weight of the Watergate scandal. Johnson tried to capture the many reactions of Peoria to Watergate, surveying “the middle managers,” “the editor,” “the feminist,” “the bishop,” “the black,” and “the businessman.”

John Gwynn, president of the Peoria and Illinois NAACP, summarized how much — and how little — Peoria had changed for blacks from the early-1950s to 1974. He spoke to the disenchantment, within the black community, that followed the revelations of Watergate: “You see, even though they’ve been denied opportunities all their lives, blacks still had more confidence in the federal government in bringing about justice….[The Watergate scandal is] a shock, and it’s leaving our country wide open. If things don’t change, the attitude is, ‘Well, nothing’s going to change and I’ll free myself my wayany way I have to.'”