WBEZ | African Americans http://www.wbez.org/tags/african-americans Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Henry Dumas wrote about black people killed by cops. Then he was killed by a cop. http://www.wbez.org/news/henry-dumas-wrote-about-black-people-killed-cops-then-he-was-killed-cop-113143 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/HenryDumas.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&quot;A young black man, Henry Dumas, went through a turnstile at a New York City subway station,&quot; reads an invitation by Toni Morrison for a posthumous book-launch party she threw for Dumas in 1974, six years after he died. &quot;A transit cop&quot; &mdash; who was white &mdash; &quot;shot him in the chest and killed him. Circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. Before that happened, however, he had written some of the most beautiful, moving and profound poetry and fiction that I have ever in my life read.&quot;</p><p>In the nearly 50 years since Henry Dumas was killed, not much more has come to light about what happened on the night of his death. No witnesses came forward to testify. Police records were lost in a bureaucratic shuffle. Harlem, where Dumas moved as a young man after growing up in rural Arkansas, had&nbsp;<a href="https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/disasters/riots-harlem_1964.html">erupted</a>&nbsp;in large-scale protests over the police killings of black and brown men several times before the writer was killed. But Dumas&#39; death hardly made the news. With so little information to draw from, it&#39;s as if the last pages of his life were torn out.</p><p>Dumas&#39; final scene echoed a theme he turned to again and again in his writing: violent confrontations between white men and black men. The work he left behind &mdash; short stories that range from hard realism to science fiction, an almost finished novel, volumes of poetry, and even a few accompaniments to the work of the mystical jazz legend Sun Ra &mdash; contains bitingly sharp depictions of racial tension in America that, in an almost unbelievably eerie way, speak to his own fate.</p><p>It is, of course, a fate that many black men and women had and would suffer under dubious circumstances &mdash; from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/harlem-riots-1943-echo-today-article-1.2216788">Robert Bandy</a>&nbsp;in 1935,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vice.com/read/race-riots-then-and-now-501">James Powell</a>&nbsp;in 1964, 10-year-old&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/nyregion/fired-at-queens-boy-fatal-1973-police-shot-still-reverberates.html">Clifford Glover</a>&nbsp;in 1973, and&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-09-12/news/9909120226_1_officers-lawyer-chicago-police-supt-joseph-roddy">LaTanya Haggerty</a>&nbsp;in 1999 to the more recent deaths of Michael Brown,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article15728675.html">Janisha Fonville</a>, Eric Garner,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/01/tanisha_anderson_was_restraine.html">Tanisha Anderson</a>&nbsp;and Freddie Gray, to name only a few.</p><p>&quot;His work and, in fact, his death, investigated and illustrated the ways in which black lives were at best peripheral to most white people &mdash; especially those running and policing the country,&quot; says James Smethurst, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor who has written extensively about 1960s and &#39;70s black writers.</p><p>Much of Dumas&#39; writing is considered to be a part of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/blackarts/historical.htm">Black Arts Movement</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the artistic manifestation of the Black Power struggle of the 1960s &mdash; an effort that Smethurst believes has a lot of resonance with the Black Lives Matter movement. While interest in Dumas has increased somewhat in recent years, he says, &quot;We still have a long way to go before he gets the sort of attention he deserves.&quot;</p><p><strong>&#39;The People Get Tired Of Dying&#39;</strong></p><p>One of the only known accounts of the night Dumas was killed comes from an obituary in&nbsp;<em>The Amsterdam News</em>,&nbsp;a black-owned newspaper in New York City that was founded in 1909. &quot;Police said Dumas and an unidentified man were scuffling in the subway when the officer walked up to them and attempted to stop the fracas,&quot; the obit reads. &quot;Police said Dumas, resentful at the interference, slashed the officer who shot and killed him.&quot;</p><p>Without the benefit of photographic evidence or firsthand witnesses to accompany the official police report, it is impossible to know the full story of what happened that night. It&#39;s also impossible to take in Dumas&#39; story without acknowledging that the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/samuel-dubose-cops-corroberating-unarmed-black-death">track record of believability</a>, when it comes to official accounts of black deaths at the hands of law enforcement,&nbsp;<a href="http://kxan.com/2014/08/22/family-of-woman-shot-killed-by-bastrop-county-sheriffs-deputy-seeks-damages/">isn&#39;t a clean one</a>.</p><p>Dumas wrote stories that echo cases like that of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland who was killed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30220700">seconds after</a>&nbsp;a police vehicle pulled up to where he was playing. &quot;When a Negro boy is shot and killed by policemen who do not check the situation before pulling their guns, the people get angry. It is a simple law of nature. ... The people get tired of dying,&quot; says one of Dumas&#39; characters in a short story called &quot;Riot or Revolt.&quot;</p><p>Published most recently in a 2003 collection of Dumas&#39; work called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Echo-Tree-Collected-Fiction-Movement/dp/1566891493">Echo Tree</a>, that story follows a young black man named Harold through the aftermath of violent public protest across Harlem:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;The police barricades squatted on the sidewalk surrounding each place where mobs had struck.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Harold stood on the ramp in the middle of Seventh Avenue and 125th Street and surveyed the area which the night before had swarmed with police and angry Harlemites. A youth had been slain by the police in Brooklyn.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><div id="res437321514"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A view of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem circa 1970." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/03/national-bookstore-getty_custom-263741acaf9cdad5decfc88cff572694dce03c46-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 397px; width: 600px;" title="A view of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem circa 1970. (Jack Garofalo/Paris Match via Getty Images)" /></div></div><p>Those who have studied Dumas&#39; life and work believe the fictional LeMoor Brothers&#39; Bookstore in that story was modeled on the real National Memorial African Bookstore, which stood a short walk from the 135th Street subway station where Dumas was killed. Owned by Lewis Michaux, a bookseller and black civil rights leader who encouraged his neighbors to read the books he stocked on African history, culture and philosophy even if they couldn&#39;t afford to buy them, the store&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/vaunda-micheaux-nelson/no-crystal-stair/">attracted</a>&nbsp;figures like Malcolm X, Langston Hughes and Muhammad Ali.</p><p>Not unlike Dumas&#39; LeMoor, Michaux had a lot to say about black Americans&#39; struggle for power. &quot;We&#39;ve been neglected for three hundred years,&quot; <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1966/09/03/the-professor-4">he</a><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1966/09/03/the-professor-4">&nbsp;told</a><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1966/09/03/the-professor-4">&nbsp;a<em> New Yorker</em>&nbsp;reporter in 1966</a>. &quot;As much as I hate to see what&#39;s going to happen, I believe that when the Negro knocks this time and nobody open the door, he&#39;s just going to knock it right down.&quot;</p><p>In &quot;Riot or Revolt,&quot; city officials stop in to speak to the owners of LeMoor Brothers&#39; Bookstore, which had been left untouched by the looters who ravaged nearly every other store on the street. The officers want to know what made his shop so exceptional, but its owner, Micheval LeMoor, takes issue with the fact that city officials seemed to visit Harlem only when its frustrated residents reached a breaking point:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;You want to come visit here and get the notions about things being better, while right now some disrespectful guardian of the citizens beats a black man&#39;s head in. It doesn&#39;t matter if he&#39;s guilty or not anymore. Your honor, what you are facing is the full anger of a man who has been under attack for years. Unless you call off the attackers, be they merchants, disrespectful policemen, or the American majority, then the black minority is going to tear your house down.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>While &quot;Riot or Revolt&quot; may have been closely inspired by actual people if not actual events, other Dumas stories are imaginative forays into allegorical fables and otherworldly realms. Dumas&#39; vast range captivated many of his fellow writers, before and after his death. The poet and civil rights activist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/haki-madhubuti">Haki R. Madhubati</a>&nbsp;called him &quot;a poet of complex melodies,&quot; and Amiri Baraka called him an &quot;Afro-surreal expressionist&quot; who delivered &quot;a new blackness.&quot;</p><div id="res444198122"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Three of the published works of Dumas." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/28/dumas-books_custom-a24dcbd804e2efd2e6d60adc2472052f719f56b9-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 289px; width: 600px;" title="Three of the published works of Dumas. (Courtesy of Eugene B. Redmond)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;I was impressed with his boldness of language and his boldness of breadth,&quot; Maya Angelou said in a 1988 interview published in an issue of the&nbsp;<em>Black American Literature Forum</em>&nbsp;dedicated entirely to Dumas&#39; work. &quot;Dumas continued to set us up for the loneliness, aloneness, and desperation, sometimes even desolation. But he never leaves us there. With him as our guide, we&#39;re always brought through to a better place.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p><strong>&#39;Part Invitation, Part Consolation&#39;</strong></p><p>By the time Dumas died, just a few of his poems and short stories had been published in small literary journals, geared toward a black audience. Writers and critics who knew him say he would have followed the uphill trajectory of his friends &mdash; including Robert Pinsky and Baraka &mdash; had he lived.</p><p>&quot;I think he would&#39;ve been a lot more famous in some respects if he had been able to live and write for 50 more years,&quot; says Smethurst, the University of Massachusetts professor. &quot;What if Toni Morrison had died after she wrote&nbsp;<em>The Bluest Eye&nbsp;</em>and only had a few stories?&quot;</p><p>In fact, Morrison played a role in inspiring what Smethurst calls the &quot;cult&quot; of Dumas. She first encountered Dumas in the form of a slim collection published posthumously by Southern Illinois University, where he taught an experimental program during the last year of his life. Then an editor at Random House and the author of&nbsp;<em>The Bluest Eye</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>Sula</em>,&nbsp;Morrison was struck by the circumstances of Dumas&#39; death and wanted to publish more of his writing.</p><p><img alt="Dumas, when he was a high school student in New York." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/03/dumas-teen_custom-90683d6bd20dbed852889b91760df7de33f10263-s200-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 374px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Dumas, when he was a high school student in New York. (Courtesy of Eugene B. Redmond)" /></p><p>Random House had recently committed itself to publishing more minority writers. Through her position there, Morrison would shepherd through the work of several of the era&#39;s most notable black writers and activists, from Toni Cade Bambara and Gayle Jones to Angela Davis and Huey P. Newton.</p><div id="res437323230"><div><div><p>But she knew that generating attention for Dumas, a writer who was not only practically unknown but also deceased, would not be easy. To create hype for the collections she wanted to release &mdash; a book of poetry titled&nbsp;<em>Play Ebony Play Ivory</em>&nbsp;and a short story collection called&nbsp;Ark of Bones&nbsp;&mdash; Morrison organized a release event with a glamorous guest list comprising the most renowned black writers of the time.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;He was thirty-three years old when he was killed,&quot; Morrison wrote in the announcement for the party, a note that was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/magazine/the-radical-vision-of-toni-morrison.html&amp;assetType=nyt_now?&amp;assetType=nyt_now">described</a>&nbsp;as &quot;part invitation, part consolation&quot; in a recent&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;profile of Morrison. &quot;But in those thirty-three years he had completed work the quality and quantity of which are almost never achieved in several lifetimes.&quot;</p><p><strong>&#39;Creative Writing Slave&#39;</strong></p><p>In 1934, Dumas was born to Appliance Porter, a 19-year-old housekeeper in Sweet Home, Ark., a small town just outside Little Rock. His father, Henry Dumas Sr., or &quot;Big Henry&quot; as he was called, was largely absent from the life of his son, and his mother worked long hours. With his parents often away, Dumas spent much of his time in the fields where his aunts and uncles picked cotton, milked cows and shared stories.</p><p>While his cousins were busy playing sports, Dumas&#39; family recalled to Dumas biographer Jeffrey B. Leak, he preferred to spend his time examining insects or developing skits in which he played all the roles. When Dumas was 10, he and his family followed the course taken by thousands of other black families during the first part of the 20th century by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/books/review/Oshinsky-t.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">moving north</a>. Dumas brought with him to Harlem an intellectual curiosity that impressed his teachers at his integrated Manhattan high school.</p><div id="res437333283"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Dumas and his wife, Loretta Dumas (Ponton), on their wedding day." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/03/dumas-wedding_custom-4f5433a2c1f2996ce38b97100e8f654f52d11178-s200-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left; height: 366px; width: 300px;" title="Dumas and his wife, Loretta Dumas Ponton, on their wedding day. (Courtesy of Eugene B. Redmond)" /></div><div><div><p>It may have been there that Dumas&#39; individual struggles became part of a more complex struggle: one in which black people searched for belonging in spaces where they were neither warmly welcomed nor explicitly barred. It&#39;s unclear when he began to take up writing seriously, but his move to a more racially diverse environment may have had something to do with it. Beneath his senior photo in the 1953 High School of Commerce yearbook someone &mdash; perhaps even Dumas himself &mdash; chose to inscribe this description of him: &quot;Creative writing slave.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>After a brief stint at the City University of New York that ended with what Leak notes might have been &quot;a crisis of confidence,&quot; Dumas joined the U.S. Air Force within a year of his high school graduation. Tours of Saudi Arabia and Mexico deepened his interest in sketching worlds that blurred black-and-white interpretations of race.</p><p>At the age of 21, Dumas returned to the U.S., in 1955, and married Loretta Ponton, a beautiful young secretary he had met by chance on a snowy evening on the street in New York just before enlisting. The daughter of a Baptist deacon, Loretta held strong Christian values and a traditional sense of familial responsibility. While Dumas shared her beliefs during the early years of their marriage, he would veer from them in coming years.</p><p>One of just a few black students at Rutgers University, where Dumas studied from 1958 to 1965 and where the couple&#39;s two sons were born, Dumas&#39; commitment to his writing, curiosities about the Nation of Islam, engagement with the civil rights movement, plus alcohol and drug use began to drive a wedge between him and Loretta.</p><p>He also had several affairs with white women. Lois Wright (nee Silber), with whom he had an affair that lasted three years, recalled in a letter to Dumas&#39; friend and fellow poet Jay Wright (whom she would later marry) that the two could only venture out to select spots in New York; the jazz clubs Dumas frequented weren&#39;t welcoming to Wright, and she resented Dumas&#39; friends for referring to her as &quot;the white chick.&quot;</p><p>&quot;For Dumas, crossing racial divides represented possibility and opportunity for both himself as a black man, but also from an imaginative standpoint,&quot; Leak, whose biography of Dumas,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Visible-Man-Life-Henry-Dumas/dp/0820328707">Visible Man</a>, came out last year, said in an interview. &quot;I think he thought that if you can cross boundaries in the social realm, then you can cross other boundaries in the literary realm. In both spaces, he found it to be even more complicated than he had anticipated.&quot;</p><p>Dumas explores those complexities in &quot;Will The Circle Be Unbroken?,&quot; a short story in which three white musicians and critics want to enter a black jazz club, arguing they should be let in because they know a lot about the genre. The black patrons finally agree to let them in, but warn that use of an ancient, rare horn may be too intense for their &quot;uninitiated&quot; ears. The music &quot;vibrated the freedom of freedom&quot; for its black listeners, but when the set ends, consternation rises when the three white people are found dead. They had been slain by music that wasn&#39;t meant for them.</p><div id="res443129714"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="From left: Henry Dumas, William G. Davis and Eugene B. Redmond in 1967, during their tenure as teacher-counselors at the Experiment in Higher Education at Southern Illinois University. (Courtesy of Eugene B. Redmond)" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/09/24/dumas-orange_custom-0e395d04cd38d945d99b93cdc8a25b20aeaee5b9-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 448px; width: 600px;" title="From left: Henry Dumas, William G. Davis and Eugene B. Redmond in 1967, during their tenure as teacher-counselors at the Experiment in Higher Education at Southern Illinois University. (Courtesy of Eugene B. Redmond)" /></div><div><p>For many, the story offers a look at some of the central questions of the civil rights movement: What did it mean to be black? How could black identity adapt to an integrated world? What racial boundaries should remain unbroken?</p></div></div><p>In an essay on the story for a 1988 issue of the&nbsp;<em>Black American Literary Forum</em>&nbsp;dedicated to Dumas&#39; work, an acquaintance of Dumas&#39; put it this way: &quot;Black people had a feeling of always being on stage for white folks.&quot; Dumas&#39; story on the jazz club held that the work of black artists should be guarded and protected, a notion that still resonates in a world where it&#39;s been said many times that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/emaoconnor/rue-just-perfectly-defined-cultural-appropriation">black cultural products are valued while black lives are not</a>.</p><p>www.newyorker.com/magazine/1966/09/03/the-professor-4On no one, perhaps, has Dumas made a greater impression than Eugene Redmond. An&nbsp;<a href="http://eugenebredmond.com/home/">accomplished poet</a>&nbsp;in his own right, Redmond has spent the past four decades editing and promoting the work of Dumas, even though the two men knew one another for only just under a year. Redmond met Dumas when the older writer came to teach English at an experimental college at the University of Southern Illinois in Redmond&#39;s hometown of East St. Louis in 1967. &quot;We bonded quickly,&quot; Redmond told me in a phone interview from the house of Loretta, Dumas&#39; widow.</p><p>The 77-year-old has served for decades as the literary executor of Dumas&#39; estate and was staying with Loretta for an annual commemoration of Dumas&#39; life and work that he helps organize every year on the anniversary of the shooting. Bringing together Dumas&#39; friends and family over poetry readings and jazz performances, Redmond, a Pushcart Prize recipient and the author of 25 books of poetry, has carried the torch for Dumas alongside his own teaching and writing career.</p><p>&quot;Every time I stepped into a classroom after I met him, I had a turntable,&quot; said Redmond, who said he picked up on Dumas&#39; tradition of playing music 15 minutes before each of his classes began. &quot;Every class that I taught, I published the students in a spiral-bound or saddle-stitched booklet. I got that from him.&quot; Redmond fondly recalls eating raw honey and listening to jazz with Dumas, to whom he attributes his love of some of the era&#39;s greatest musicians, from Miles Davis to John Coltrane. &quot;At the time,&quot; Redmond said, &quot;he seemed to be at the farthest most forward point of what black expression, black culture, and black people were all about.&quot;</p><p>In his day-to-day life, Dumas insisted on making space for himself &mdash; and forcing others to acknowledge his right to exist. &quot;He would even walk around East St. Louis and other places, and ask, &#39;Do you see me? Feel my arm. I&#39;m here, ain&#39;t I?&#39;&quot; said Leak, who conducted many interviews with those close to Dumas for his book. &quot;His point was: We&#39;re not invisible. The idea is a direct corollary to Black Lives Matter, the idea that flesh and blood do matter, and we&#39;re going to insist on being seen and being heard.&quot;</p><p>Redmond hopes the Black Lives Matter movement will help introduce Dumas to a whole new audience and help bolster the foundation that the movement rests upon. &quot;You gotta have someplace to come from before you know where you&#39;re going,&quot; he says.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/01/433229181/henry-dumas-wrote-about-black-people-killed-by-cops-then-he-was-killed-by-a-cop"><em>via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/henry-dumas-wrote-about-black-people-killed-cops-then-he-was-killed-cop-113143 Morning Shift: Book traces African Americans in Space http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-11/morning-shift-book-traces-african-americans-space-111684 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hubble%20Heritage.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Hubble Heritage" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195359354&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Food Wednesday: Study shows health changes when moving from North to South</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The Great Migration of African Americans from the Deep South to the urban North resulted in higher wages and better job prospects. But they also faced discrimination, crowded housing conditions, and a colder climate. So how did the migration affect the health of many of these African Americans? We discuss a <a href="http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/02/26/african-americans-who-fled-south-during-great-migration-led-shorter-lives-study">new study</a> that shows many of them had a higher mortality rate than their counterparts who stayed behind.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">Monica Eng</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195359353&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Songs from Bobby Bare Jr.</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Musician Bobby Bare Jr., stopped by our studio last April to play a couple of new tunes. As he&#39;ll be in town to grace the stage at Fitzgerald&#39;s Thursday, we feature music from a recent album.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195359348&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Book traces African Americans in Space</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The rise of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. ran side by side with The Space Race. But even as African-Americans were fighting to sit at the same lunch counters and enjoy the same meals as their white counterparts, they were serving crucial roles in helping the country launch its space program. A NASA program in Huntsville, Alabama, placed black engineers in the center of the tumult while they were training to work in the aeronautical field. Steven Moss and Richard Paul, authors of &quot;We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program,&quot; document some of these men who became NASA&rsquo;s first black engineers and what they experienced during that time.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.pri.org/people/steven-moss">Steven Moss</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/rlpaulprodn">Richard Paul</a>&nbsp;are authors of the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/We-Could-Not-Fail-Americans/dp/0292772491">&quot;</a></em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/We-Could-Not-Fail-Americans/dp/0292772491">We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program.&quot;</a></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/195359346&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Reclaimed Soul</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">This week, Host Ayana Contreras shares deep soul cuts from our own backyard: Chicago Soul from the 1970s.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://twitter.com/reclaimedsoul">Ayana Contreras</a> hosts Reclaimed Soul on Vocalo.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-11/morning-shift-book-traces-african-americans-space-111684 'The Great Migration' Conversation with Timuel D. Black Jr., Linda Johnson Rice & Adam Green http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/great-migration-conversation-timuel-d-black-jr-linda-johnson-rice-adam <p><p>As part of the programming for the 2013-14 One Book, One Chicago selection, Isabel Wilkerson&rsquo;s <em>The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story Of America&rsquo;s Great Migration</em>, the Chicago Public Library welcomed&nbsp;<strong>Timuel D. Black Jr</strong>., <strong>Linda Johnson Rice</strong> and <strong>Adam Green</strong> for an engaging conversation of how the Great Migration shaped their lives and the city of Chicago.&nbsp;</p><div>Timuel D. Black, Jr., a recent Champion of Freedom Award recipient, is a Chicago educator, activist and historian who has written extensively on the Great Migration in his books <em>Bridges of Memory: Chicago&rsquo;s First Wave of Black Migration </em>and <em>Bridges of Memory Volume 2:Chicago&rsquo;s Second Generation of Black Migration</em>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Linda Johnson Rice&rsquo;s parents, <strong>John and Eunice Johnson</strong>, came to Chicago from the South and built the Johnson Publishing Company, one of the world&rsquo;s most successful black-owned media companies of which Ms. Rice is President and CEO.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>University of Chicago History Professor Adam Green, writes about the Great Migration in his books <em>Selling the Race: The Culture and Community in Black Chicago, 1940-1955</em> and <em>Time Longer than Rope: Studies in African American Activism, 1850-1950</em>.&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CPL-webstory_36.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Monday, May 6, 2013 at the Harold Washington Library Center.</p></p> Mon, 06 May 2013 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/great-migration-conversation-timuel-d-black-jr-linda-johnson-rice-adam Death of a pioneer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/death-pioneer-106831 <p><p>As a black woman, pioneer aviator Elizabeth&nbsp;Coleman&nbsp;overcame two career obstacles before dying in a flying accidentt on April 30, 1926.</p><p>Coleman&mdash;always known as Bessie&mdash;was born into a large family of Texas cotton farmers in 1892.&nbsp;She joined the great migration north in 1915, settling in Chicago.&nbsp;Her first job was as a manicurist.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4-30--Bessie%20Coleman%20%28NASA%20photo%29.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 350px; float: right;" title="Bessie Coleman (NASA photo)" /></div><p>Coleman was intrigued by stories of combat flying during World War I. Yet when the war ended, no American flight school would accept her.&nbsp;She had to go abroad to achieve her dream.</p><p>She learned French, saved her money, and got financial help from&nbsp;<em>Defender</em> publisher Robert S. Abbott and other businessmen.&nbsp;She went to France and earned her pilot&rsquo;s license.&nbsp;Finally, in 1921, Bessie&nbsp;Coleman returned to the U.S. as the country&rsquo;s first female African-American flier.</p><p>Commercial aviation was in its infancy. Coleman could become either a mail pilot or a stunt flier. Both were dangerous jobs, but stunt flying paid better.</p><p>Coleman was young, attractive, and extroverted. Performing appealed to her.&nbsp;She joined the circuit of air thrill shows.&nbsp;Now her gender and race worked to her advantage, giving her added publicity value.&nbsp;Back in Chicago, her friends at the <em>Defender</em> printed detailed accounts of her many triumphs.</p><p>On April 30, 1926, Coleman was in Jacksonville, Florida.&nbsp;An air show was scheduled for the next day.&nbsp;With her mechanic at the controls of her open plane, Coleman took off to scout out the area.&nbsp;Coleman wasn&rsquo;t strapped in. She wanted more freedom to see over the edge of the plane.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-30--Defender%2C%205-8-1926.jpg" style="width: 265px; height: 216px; float: left;" title="'Chicago Defender' national edition--May 8, 1926" /></div><p>About ten minutes into the flight, the plane suddenly went into a spin.&nbsp;Coleman was thrown from the cockpit and fell to her death.&nbsp;The plane crashed, killing the mechanic. As it turned out, the cause of the&nbsp;accident was dreadfully simple&ndash;a loose wrench had fallen into the gears and jammed them.</p><p>The air show was cancelled.&nbsp;Coleman&rsquo;s body was returned to Chicago, where more than 10,000 people filed past her coffin in Pilgrim Baptist Church.&nbsp;She was buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Alsip.&nbsp;For many years afterward, African-American pilots performed an annual fly-over of her grave.</p><p>In 1995 the U.S. postal service honored&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s aviation pioneer&nbsp;with a Black Heritage commemorative stamp.&nbsp;And today one of the streets at O&rsquo;Hare Airport is named Bessie Coleman Drive.</p></p> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/death-pioneer-106831 Black Chicago at Mid-Century http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/black-chicago-mid-century-104527 <p><p>It was December 1949, and the 20th Century was reaching its mid-point. On this date the <em>Tribune </em>began running a series of articles by reporter Carl Wiegman about a group that was becoming increasingly visible and important&mdash;Chicago&rsquo;s African-Americans.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-28--47th Street.jpg" title="47th Street at South Park Way, 1930s (CTA photo)" /></div><p>In 1910 the city&rsquo;s Black population had been 44,000. By 1940 the number had grown to 277,000, and was projected to rise to about 400,000 in 1950&ndash;over 10 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s population. That was a significant number of people. They could no longer be ignored.</p><p>Housing was the number one problem. True, the number of African-Americans in the city had kept growing and growing and growing. But because of segregation, they were still crammed into the narrow &ldquo;Black Belt&rdquo; on the South Side.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-28--new%20public%20housing.jpg" title="New public housing units (City of Chicago)" /></div><p>Unscrupulous landlords had taken advantage of the situation. Countless old apartment buildings had been chopped up. A former six-flat might now have twenty or more kitchenettes. These units had a single room, equipped with a bed, stove and ice box. One mother was struggling to raise seven children in these cramped quarters.&nbsp;</p><p>The housing conditions led to social problems. The crime rate among African-Americans was high. With several families using the same bathrooms and cooking facilities, quarrels resulted. Parents would avoid returning to their congested living quarters, and the children would be neglected.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-28--W.L.%20Dawson.jpg" style="width: 242px; height: 380px; float: left;" title="Congressman Dawson (author's collection)" /></div></div><p>There did seem to be hope for the future. The city was planning to expand public housing,&nbsp;in order&nbsp;to&nbsp;alleviate the over-crowding. And in just the previous May, restrictive real estate covenants&ndash;which promoted segregation&ndash;had been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court.</p><p>African-Americans had traditionally been &ldquo;last to be hired, first to be fired.&rdquo; That was slowly changing. The Urban League reported that the percentage of Blacks employed in many industries had risen sharply&ndash;in printing and publishing, for example, the figure had jumped from 1.2% to 19.7% between 1940 and 1945. But with the end of World War II the job market had tightened, and equal employment opportunity was not yet a reality.</p><p>Still, the community was starting to flex its political muscle. Chicago had a number of African-American government officials, and three of the city&rsquo;s fifty aldermen were Black. The South Side was also the home of Congressman&nbsp;William L. Dawson, one of only two Blacks in the U.S. House of Representatives.</p><p>The <em>Tribune</em> later reprinted the Wiegman articles in booklet form. For anyone interested in the history of Chicago&rsquo;s African-Americans, they&rsquo;re worth reading. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/black-chicago-mid-century-104527 The story of Jesse Binga, an early black entrepreneur with social motives http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-28/story-jesse-binga-early-black-entrepreneur-social-motives-96623 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-27/Jesse Binga_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to John Schmidt discuss Jesse Binga on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></span></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332738642-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/848_2-28-12_John.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div></div><p>Today the street where Jesse Binga lived is named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That's appropriate. When the street was called South Park Avenue and Binga lived at number 5922, the house became a symbol of the civil rights struggle.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-23/02-28--Jesse Binga.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 357px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jesse Binga was an early 20th century entrepreneur who started Chicago's first black-owned bank. (Collection of John Schmidt)">Jesse Binga was a go-getter. Born in Detroit in 1865, he started out to be a barber like his father. He moved through a number of jobs before settling in Chicago at the time of the 1893 World's Fair. A few years later he entered the real estate business.</p><p>Chicago's African-American population was small at the turn of the 20th Century, but that was about to change. Here Binga saw his opportunity.</p><p>During the first decades of the new century, Southern blacks began moving north. Chicago's neighborhoods were segregated, like most northern cities. The newcomers settled into a narrow section of the South Side. but as more people arrived, they began to burst the boundaries of the "Black Belt."</p><p>Jesse Binga became the main agent of racial succession. He bought property from whites who wanted to move out, fixed it up, then resold to blacks who needed a place to live. He helped his people--and he got rich.</p><p>From real estate he moved into banking. He took over a failed bank at State and 36th and reopened it as the Binga Bank, the city's first black-owned financial institution. In 1910 he ran for the County Board as a Republican, but lost. After that he steered clear of politics.</p><p>Binga moved to South Park Avenue in 1917. The Washington Park neighborhood was then all-white. He received death threats and the house was repeatedly bombed. He had to hire 24-hour security guards.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-23/02-28--Binga Home.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 289px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Binga's home at 5922 S. King Dr. is now a landmark. (WBEZ/John Schmidt)">Binga defiantly refused to move. He was an American citizen and could live where he pleased. Years passed before the violence finally stopped.</p><p>The Binga business empire reached its peak during the 1920s. He rechartered the bank as the Binga State Bank and erected a new building at the northwest corner of State and 35th. Next to it he constructed a five-story office building called the Binga Arcade. He announced plans to open another, federally-chartered bank.</p><p>Then the stock market crashed. The Depression followed, the Binga State Bank failed and thousands of African-American depositors were wiped out.</p><p>Binga was wiped out, too. He served a prison sentence for embezzlement, though many thought the charges were trumped up and he was later pardoned by the governor. He spent his last years working as a janitor at St. Anselm Church, for $15 a week.</p><p>Jesse Binga died in 1950. His home is a registered Chicago Landmark, and is privately owned.</p></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2012 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-02-28/story-jesse-binga-early-black-entrepreneur-social-motives-96623 The Father of Chicago: Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-08/father-chicago-jean-baptiste-pointe-dusable-90020 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-08/DuSable.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>"The first white man to settle in Chicago was black." That was a popular witticism around town in the 1930s, and it says a lot about the attitudes of the time. Of course, the person referred to was Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.</p><p>DuSable was the first non-indigenous resident of our area. We know that. But much of the historical record is fuzzy. Even his name has different versions, such as "au Sable" or "de Saible." Nor do we have any real idea of his physical appearance, except that he was a big man.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-02/DuSable.jpg" style="width: 420px; height: 356px; " title=""></p><p>He was born in Santa Domingo (Haiti) around 1745. His father was a French sailor--some sources say a pirate--and his mother an enslaved African. According to legend, when Jean Baptiste's mother was killed during a Spanish raid, the boy swam out to his father's ship to take refuge. After that, the older DuSable took his son to France to be educated.</p><p>Along with a friend, Jean Baptiste arrived in New Orleans in 1764. The two young men became traders, journeying up the Mississippi and through the Midwest as far as present-day Michigan. During this time, DuSable married a Potawatomie woman and became a member of the tribe. The Potawatomie called him the "Black Chief."</p><p>Sometime after 1770, Dusable moved to the region known as Eschecagou--which visitors mispronounced as "Chicago." He built a trading post at the mouth of the local river, near where the Tribune Tower now stands. During the American Revolution he was forced off his claims and briefly interred by the British. He wound up operating a different trading post in Michigan.</p><p>DuSable reclaimed his Chicago property at the end of the war. Besides his 22x40-foot residence, he now built two barns, a mill, bakery, dairy, workshop, henhouse, and smokehouse. He sold pork, bread, and flour. As an adopted Potawatomie he enjoyed good relations with the native peoples. Many of them worked for him.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-02/DuSable Cabin.jpg" style="width: 470px; height: 285px; " title=""></p><p>in 1800 DuSable abruptly sold his holdings. Why he did this is a mystery. He farmed near Peoria for about ten years, until his wife died. Then he moved in with his daughter at St. Charles, Missouri.</p><p>He had once been spoken of as a wealthy man, but most of that wealth was gone. Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable died at his daughter's house on August 28, 1818, and was buried in the local Catholic cemetery. His gravesite remained unmarked until 1968.</p><p>After DuSable left Chicago, his property on the riverbank was taken over by John Kinzie. The years passed, and Kinzie was hailed as Mr. Pioneer Settler. DuSable was forgotten.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-02/DuSable bust.JPG" style="width: 470px; height: 335px; " title=""></p><p>The city's first recognition of DuSable came in 1912, when a plaque was placed on a building near his cabin site. Later a high school named for him was erected on Wabash Avenue. In 2006 the Chicago City Council officially recognized DuSable as the founder of Chicago.</p><p>The newest memorial to DuSable is an outdoor statuary bust. Dedicated in 2009, it's located on Michigan Avenue just north of the river--right near his old front door.</p></p> Mon, 08 Aug 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-08/father-chicago-jean-baptiste-pointe-dusable-90020 Joliet lashes back at federal prosecutors over housing suit http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/Thanas.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top Joliet official is lashing back at federal prosecutors for suing his city to block condemnation of a low-income housing complex called Evergreen Terrace.<br> <br> The suit, a civil complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses Joliet of violating the Fair Housing Act, trying to “perpetuate segregation,” and attempting to “limit or reduce the number of Black or African-American residents residing within the city.”<br> <br> City Manager Tom Thanas called the suit a legal maneuver to “wear us down” by lengthening Joliet’s six-year legal battle for authority to condemn the complex. “This is at a time when Joliet doesn’t have the financial resources to take on big litigation,” Thanas said Friday afternoon. “We, like other municipalities around the country, are suffering with declining revenues and increasing expenses.”<br> <br> Thanas stuck by the city’s claim that Evergreen Terrace, a privately owned 356-unit development, has too many police and fire calls. But whether to keep fighting for condemnation authority is up to Joliet elected officials, Thanas added. “That’s something we’ll be reviewing with the mayor and city council,” he said.<br> <br> The complex houses about 765 low-income residents, nearly all African-American, and abuts the Des Plaines River across from downtown Joliet.<br> <br> Joliet’s attempts to close Evergreen Terrace stretch back more than a decade. The city tried to block refinancing for the complex but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sunk in millions of dollars.<br> <br> In 2005, Joliet asked a state court for condemnation authority. The HUD stake sent the condemnation bid into the federal court system, where it remains.<br> <br> The property’s owners, New West Limited Partnership and New Bluff Limited Partnership, filed a federal suit against the condemnation. A group of residents filed another federal suit against it. One of those residents, Teresa Davis, also filed a complaint with HUD, which led to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Justice suit.<br> <br> Joliet officials say the city for years has planned to redevelop the site for affordable housing and help relocate the residents.<br> <br> But Thursday’s suit claims “the city has no meaningful plan” for those aims.<br> <br> Patrick Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said Friday afternoon that prosecutors held discussions with Joliet officials before filing the suit. Johnson called those talks unsuccessful and said the sides have scheduled no other settlement negotiations. Next week, he added, the government will motion for its suit to be joined with the other federal suits aimed at preserving Evergreen Terrace. Johnson said the case’s discovery phase could last at least a year.<br> <br> Asked whether the government was just trying to wear down Joliet, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors would have no further comment.<br> <br> An Evergreen Terrace resident, for his part, said the federal suit was already having an effect — bringing some positive attention to the complex. “I don’t see much wrong with the place,” said Elvis Foster, 53, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and serves on the tenant council. “You’re close to downtown. You got the Joliet Junior College just two blocks away. And [the complex] is not feared as much as people would say.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 Census could fuel case for new Latino Congressional district http://www.wbez.org/story/2010-census/census-could-fuel-case-new-latino-congressional-district <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//HispanicCaucus.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois may be losing a Congressional seat, but new census figures could be good news for the state&rsquo;s Latinos. <br /><br />A U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2009 suggests the number of Latinos in the state had grown by almost 440,000 since 2000. Census figures coming out early next year are expected to show those residents concentrated in the Chicago area.<br /><br />If so, the U.S. Voting Rights Act might require Illinois to create its second mostly Latino Congressional district, according to attorney Virginia Martínez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.<br /><br />&ldquo;We need to ensure that our voice is not diluted by drawing lines that cut up our community,&rdquo; Martínez said. &ldquo;It impacts everything that affects us -- the future of immigration reform, lunch meals served to our children in schools.&rdquo;<br /><br />Martínez worked on a pair of 1981 lawsuits that led to the first Latino aldermanic ward in Chicago and the first Latino legislative district in Illinois. By 1992, the state had its first Latino Congressional district, represented ever since by Luis Gutiérrez, D-Chicago.<br /><br />Martínez said a second Latino Congressional district would not have to come at the expense of African Americans. That is because Latinos have been settling in areas that had been mainly white, she said.</p></p> Wed, 29 Dec 2010 20:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/2010-census/census-could-fuel-case-new-latino-congressional-district When someone else’s art lands in your neighborhood http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Sculpture2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><b>Ten sculptors have put up outdoor pieces in Chicago&rsquo;s East Garfield Park neighborhood. The installation&rsquo;s supposed to stay up for a year. The group says the purpose is to expose people to art that they might not be able to see otherwise. But, then again, residents never asked for the opportunity. So what happens when someone else&rsquo;s art lands in your neighborhood? We report from our West Side bureau.</b><br /><br />Before looking into how the 10 pieces are going over in East Garfield Park, I ask Chicago sculptor Terrence Karpowicz to show them to me. He led the installation.<br /><br />MITCHELL: To me it looks like a huge, three-fingered claw. What is this?<br />KARPOWICZ: This is a sculpture by Fisher Stoltz titled &ldquo;Moonbench.&rdquo; I see it as a rendezvous point for the local community. They can actually come and sit down and converse.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, there&rsquo;s a marble bench here.<br />KARPOWICZ: Actually it&rsquo;s granite. There is an electrical element that lights up at night so that the white marble sphere glows. Come on and sit down.<br />MITCHELL: Yeah, now that we&rsquo;re sitting down, this granite is very cold on my fat rear end.<br />KARPOWICZ: It warms up in summertime.<br /><br />The sculptures stand as high as 14 feet. They&rsquo;re spanning a half-mile boulevard called West Franklin for the next year. The artists are all members of a group called Chicago Sculpture International.<br /><br />Karpowicz takes me to a pile of rings made of industrial tubing.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s a sculpture by Dusty Falwarczny. The title of the sculpture is &ldquo;Scrap.&rdquo; I measure that one as, probably, a three-shopping-cart operation.<br />MITCHELL: You measure the volume by shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: That&rsquo;s how many shopping carts it&rsquo;ll take to get that to a scrap yard. Because you see a lot of hardworking men with shopping carts and they pick up debris and take it to recycling places.<br />MITCHELL: Have you ever lost one of your works to shopping carts?<br />KARPOWICZ: No, thank goodness.<br /><br />And there&rsquo;s more to see. Karpowicz shows me a giant, spiky sphere made of orange traffic cones. And there&rsquo;s a stainless-steel piece called &ldquo;Abduction.&rdquo;<br /><br />The installation is definitely capturing attention in the neighborhood.<br /><br />MAN: Oh, man, that&rsquo;s cool. Who did that?<br />WOMAN: It beautifies the neighborhood.<br />MAN: It&rsquo;s really nice for the block.<br />GRANT: I like them.<br />MITCHELL: What&rsquo;s your name?<br />GRANT: My name is Felincia Grant.<br />MITCHELL: Do any of the pieces stick out to you -- that you can really relate to?<br />GRANT: The one that&rsquo;s all the way down on Franklin and Kedzie. It looks like a hook. Actually, to be honest with you, I had a nephew that was--there used to be a tree there. My nephew ran into this tree. And that&rsquo;s where he died. And that piece, right there, it was put where the tree was.<br />MITCHELL: Does it remind you of him?<br />GRANT: Yeah. He had these hooked attitudes at times. He made a lot of bad choices. But he was a good kid.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s easy to find people who admire at least some of the 10 new sculptures in East Garfield Park. It&rsquo;s harder to find folks who have a beef with the installation, but they are around.<br /><br />FIELDS: My name is Cy Fields.<br /><br />Fields is pastor of New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, a few blocks southeast of the parkway.<br /><br />FIELDS: It seems like they just plopped artwork in the community and just sort of said, &lsquo;Well, here it is and, surprise, I hope you enjoy it.&rsquo; I&rsquo;m not against community beautification and artwork, but I think the process and the end goal are very important. Many schools are struggling to have art classes in the schools. Can the artists come and teach the kids in East Garfield Park? Communities of color--African American and Latino--have their share of capable artists. Will their artwork be able to go to the North Side or to other communities as well? Let&rsquo;s have a cultural exchange.<br /><br />Fields isn&rsquo;t the only one talking about race. An unemployed interior decorator named Tony Green wants to know why the sculptures ended up in his neighborhood.<br /><br />GREEN: Only in the black community with no blacks involved. That&rsquo;s not personal, is it?<br /><br />These are fair questions. Karpowicz&rsquo;s group got an alderman&rsquo;s approval to put the sculptures up. But the group did not work with residents to choose the art or get them involved any other way.<br /><br />MITCHELL: How about helping artists in this community display their art here on the boulevard?<br />KARPOWICZ: Well, if those artists were members of Chicago Sculpture International, which they certainly can become part of, they&rsquo;d be the first ones on the list. It&rsquo;s not about shutting anybody out. It&rsquo;s about inclusivity.<br /><br />But then Karpowicz tells me the group&rsquo;s got a hundred and forty-nine members and not one is African American.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Why is that? Something like a third or 40 percent of the population here in the city is African American. <br />KARPOWICZ: We don&rsquo;t reach out, we don&rsquo;t publicize. As a result of an exhibition like this, if there are sculptors out there who happen to be African American [and] they want to be sculptors, the door is open. It&rsquo;s always open.<br /><br />He points out annual memberships cost only 25 dollars.<br /><br />Karpowicz and I keep talking as he shows me some sculptures toward the end of the parkway. He reminds me they&rsquo;ll be up in East Garfield Park only a year.<br /><br />KARPOWICZ: A lot of the people who live around here probably wouldn&rsquo;t venture downtown to see sculpture. And this is our opportunity, as part of the sculpture community of Chicago, to bring art to the communities.<br />MITCHELL: Where we&rsquo;re standing right now, we&rsquo;ve got a vacant lot on this side and we&rsquo;ve got another vacant lot we&rsquo;re standing in right now. The population here--they&rsquo;re not going to be buying these pieces afterwards.<br />KARPOWICZ: No, they probably won&rsquo;t, Chip, but I think they&rsquo;ll appreciate art a lot more. They&rsquo;ll appreciate sculpture. Next time they see a piece of art, they&rsquo;ll say, &lsquo;Oh yeah, we had one of those in our neighborhood once.&rsquo;<br /><br />If this installation works out, Karpowicz says his group&rsquo;ll try to bring sculptures to other Chicago boulevards. Next time, he says, the artists will try harder to get the neighborhood involved.</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/abductions/when-someone-else%E2%80%99s-art-lands-your-neighborhood