Occupiers, Officials Try to Help Homeowners

by Tyreshia Black 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood.

Urban Youth International Journalism Program reporter Tyreshia Black interviews Willie “JR” Fleming, an activist with Occupy the Hood Chicago. Photo by Micah Maidenberg

There were only a few people on the steps of Herman Hall on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Bronzeville on Oct. 2, and they stood waiting to talk to distressed homeowners. It was a small event but one that had a big message and connected to a bigger movement.

The scene was part of Chicago’s version of the worldwide events known as the Occupy Movement – protests that have spread from state to state affecting different cities and neighborhoods. The event the group “Occupy the Hood” held at Herman Hall focused on home foreclosures and forced evictions.
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Honoring Sam Cooke

by Jacqueline Thompson 

On Saturday, June 18, 2011, Chicago’s own Sam Cooke was inducted into a select group honored by the posting of a street sign in their name. Each honorary street sign is placed in a prominent position either where the person lived or made their mark on society. On the corner of 36th Street and Ellis Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood, a brand new sign reading “Sam Cooke Way” establishes forever the place where the singer, songwriter, business man, husband, father, brother, uncle, pioneer and social change activist lived and learned.

The throng of people who came to witness the dedication were jovial, sober, high spirited and very eager. They shared their common love for Cooke in conversation and memories. Childhood friends of Cooke’s stood right by me and began to talk to me when they saw me taking notes.

Herb Kent, the "Cool Gent," (right) poses with fans, relatives and those who grew up with legendary Soul singer Sam Cooke at the June 2011 dedication of a street in Cook'e honor. Photo by Jacqueline Thompson

“Yeah, I remember when he used to run around here with us and play while we went to Doolittle Elementary School. He was in my brother’s room. He smiled a lot, a real role model,” said James Purnell, who lived at 530 East 36th Street. “We are all very proud to witness this day.”

Herman Mitchell added, “He was older than some of us, but even when he got up in the business, he would come back and he would entertain us for free.”

Scotty Wiggins of 532 E. Browning St. reminisced about Doolittle Elementary in the 1940s, when they all attended. Then, Gerald Rhymes, who lived at 470 E 35th St. at the time, added his memories. Clarence “Sonny” Wilson of 470 E. 35th St. recalled, “I used to sing baritone with him.” They all agreed that “It was about time they did this.” Cooke died in 1964.

A big limousine bus brought most of Sam’s family to the scene. Then the speakers began to arrive, and electricity was in the air. Radio personality Herb Kent, Cook County Commissioner Jerry “Ice Man” Butler, Ald. Pat Dowell (3) and Prentice Butler, an assistant to Ald. Will Burns (4), all made remarks.

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Rahm Wants Urban Farms, Mobile Food Trucks

by Mary C. Piemonte 

More than 600,000 Chicagoans lack easy access to a grocery store offering healthy and fresh foods, according to mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel.

To eradicate food deserts in low-income communities throughout the city, Emmanuel plans to increase access to fresh food options, by “engaging smaller local grocery stores, facilitating public-private partnerships and encouraging community gardens to thrive,” he said at a Feb. 1 press conference at Growing Power Iron Street Farm, 3333 S. Iron St.

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel fielding reporters questions, during his press conference at the Growing Power Iron Street Farm, on Feb. 1, where he talked about his plans to combat food deserts in low-income communities across the city. Photo by Mary C. Johns

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Should Liquor Stores Be Banned in Bronzeville?

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Tune in tonight at 6:30 p.m. to Residents’ Journal’s live 25-minute call-in television show on Cable Access Network’s Hotline Channel 21.

RJ’s Editor-in-chief Mary C. Johns will interview Mary Gutierrez, from The Bronzeville Movement, about her organization’s efforts in closing down all 14 Liquor/Package Goods Stores, located in Chicago’s 3rd ward south side low-income Bronzeville community.

Call 773-738-1060 during airtime, if you want to join in on the discussion.

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Residents’ Journal Senior Reporter Discussing a Bronzeville Family History Research Project

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Click on the image to view the fourth episode of this season’s “RJ TV,” on August 9, 2010.

Watch Residents’ Journal‘s Senior Reporter Jacqueline Thompson’s live discussion with Pat Bearden of the Bronzeville Alliance Educational Task Force, about their Family History Research Project.

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A Day in the Life of a JROTC Cadet

by Patricia Gurley 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

A typical day at Chicago Military Academy in Bronzeville begins by waking up at 6 am, or 5 am if you have to take the train. When you get to school, you can rack up demerits, which are penalties, for not wearing black hats, scarves or gloves—and this is not a good thing.

If you can, eat breakfast in the morning, go to your locker and put away all your things. Afterwards, go down to formation where all the students meet up.
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Youths Testify for Alternative Schools

by Mary C. Piemonte 

“Without funding schools like Bronzeville that are central to the development of the city’s youth, we’ll fail. There won’t be a future without us,” said Keidra Williams, a junior at the Bronzeville Academic Center, to State of Illinois officials during a public hearing on January 9 at the Chicago Urban League.

Bronzeville junior high school student Keidra Williams, (right) talking to Illiniois legislators about the importance of funding alternative high schools for students who dropped out of public schools, during the public hearing on the national youth joblessness and high school drop out rate at the Chicago Urban League on January 9, 2009.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Williams was one of several students to testify on national youth joblessness and the high school dropout crisis. A student at Bronzeville, an alternative high school at 220 W. 45th Place, Williams added that schools like hers “need more funding to promote achievement of its students.”
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Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Project

by Mary C. Piemonte 

A small group of Chicago Bronzeville area residents, local business people, and housing developers recently got together to talk about ways to make the “Black Metropolis” a National Heritage Area (NHA). They see the NHA as a way to preserve the historical sense of community, and to care for their land and culture, as well as provide an opportunity to pass on the knowledge and culture of the past to future generations.

The National Park Service defines a National Heritage Area as “a place designated by Congress where natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.”
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Bronzeville Community Alert

by Mary C. Piemonte 

On April 30th, several prominent people met at the Renaissance Apartments at 37th Street and Wabash Avenue to alert the public about gentrification and the Chicago Housing Authority redevelopment in the historic Bronzeville community.

At the slightly attended meeting, people spoke on behalf of their businesses, churches and homeowner associations, discussing housing for poor and low-to-moderate income level residents, crime, and the rising cost of property taxes for their homes.
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Chicago’s Hottest Elections

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

I‘m hot on the trails of the hottest candidates in this lukewarm election. Though many incumbents are running unopposed, some sparks are flying in the Windy City wind when it comes to this year’s municipal race. One of the races that is sure to be hot and sizzling and may cause a Chicago fire is the mayoral race. Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his bid for re-election in the last year, according to his campaign spokesperson, Julian Green.

“Our platform is called working together. Mayor Daley has been working with elected officials, city and community groups, reverends and the like to move Chicago forward,” Green said. “For many years, the city was divided but for the last 14 years, Mayor Daley has been bridging the gap.” Read more »
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