WBEZ | Bronzeville http://www.wbez.org/tags/bronzeville Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Englewood, Bronzeville wait for mayor’s ‘opportunity’ plan to pay off http://www.wbez.org/news/englewood-bronzeville-wait-mayor%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98opportunity%E2%80%99-plan-pay-108297 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/opportunity neighborhood_130806_nm.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Englewood and Bronzeville are two black, South Side neighborhoods facing unique yet separate challenges.</p><p>Englewood is decades off from anything close to resembling gentrification. The neighborhood is known more for its crime, poverty and vast swaths of empty land starved for development. Historic Bronzeville is close to Lake Michigan and downtown. A new, black middle class bought and rehabbed stunning greystones. Yet retail and amenities have greatly lagged.</p><p>Both of these communities could use a boost and that&rsquo;s what Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now promising.</p><p>Last spring, Emanuel designated seven city neighborhoods as so-called &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2013/march_2013/mayor_emanuel_announcesopportunityareasaspartoflong-termstrategi.html" target="_blank">opportunity areas</a>.&rdquo; The idea was to target public and private development in these communities to help attract much needed investment. Englewood and Bronzeville are two of the communities, but some residents there still aren&rsquo;t clear on what the opportunity strategy means.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to approach our neighborhood development strategy different. In a more coordinated fashion. I said we have an unprecedented amount of infrastructure investment. We should bring coordinated investment for greater value for our neighborhoods,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s plan for the neighborhoods is long on hope but short on details. Some of what he&rsquo;s touting was already in the works. So how does this new opportunity designation actually help these areas?</p><p>Let&rsquo;s visit Englewood first.</p><p>On a recent summer Saturday some residents got together in Sherwood Park, which has a reputation for being dangerous. Englewood activist Asiaha Butler was there helping facilitate what she calls &ldquo;positive loitering.&rdquo; As children ran in an open field, Frankie Beverly and Maze&rsquo;s &ldquo;Happy Feelin&rsquo;s&rdquo; blared over the DJ&rsquo;s speakers.</p><p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t shocked that Englewood would be a target place. We&rsquo;re the poster child of the urban area gone wrong. So if you had any type of opportunities or things from the mayor, I definitely think we&rsquo;d be the ones chosen for that,&rdquo; Butler said.</p><p>As part of the opportunity strategy Emanuel said his office will help develop 2,500 city-owned vacant lots in Englewood. That could mean the kind of urban agriculture that has already turned some empty lots into vegetable gardens &ndash; in an area overrun with fast-food joints. Butler said she&rsquo;s fine with that model, to a degree.</p><p>&ldquo;What I&rsquo;m afraid of is that is that it may be too much,&rdquo; Butler said. &ldquo;That scares me a little bit because I&rsquo;m not a farmer and I don&rsquo;t know what to do with all this land. I&rsquo;d like to see more activities in these spaces and not just gardens; I think it could be something more,&rdquo; she continued.</p><p>But according to Butler, the city&rsquo;s top-down approach hasn&rsquo;t left much room for community input. She says resident leaders aren&rsquo;t in the loop about future plans or an overall vision for the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;I would want to see more sitting areas with the vacant lots. Definitely more retail and the commercial corridor district and even developing more commercial retail,&rdquo; Butler said.</p><p>One of Emanuel&rsquo;s bullet points for Englewood is a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/englewood-residents-fight-environmental-safeguards-during-rail-yard-expansion-105823" target="_blank">railyard expansion by Norfolk Southern</a> that&rsquo;s supposed to inject economic vitality. But the controversial project will demolish homes in Englewood and could lead to an increase in air pollution.</p><p>Another bullet point is leveraging Kennedy-King College as a community anchor on 63rd Street. But that&rsquo;s been a struggle ever since the new facility opened several years ago, and it&rsquo;s not clear how the opportunity area will change that.</p><p>One thing that might help neighborhood development is tax increment financing, or TIFs. It&rsquo;s a tool that collects local property taxes from specific areas and then puts it in a fund with little oversight. Originally created to eradicate blight, TIFs tend to go to the rich and well-connected.</p><p>A close look at TIFs over the past decade in Englewood and Bronzeville&nbsp; &ndash; neighborhoods with no shortage of blight &ndash; shows no major retail activity. Most of the Bronzeville area TIFs helped build new mixed-income housing after the city demolished public-housing high rises.</p><p>&ldquo;Millions of dollars spent on primarily affordable housing, which is very important,&rdquo; says Bronzeville entrepreneur Bernard Loyd. But Loyd continued, &ldquo;If it is the only investment in the community, it&rsquo;s going to dramatically skew development in a direction that ultimately is not productive for the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Loyd&rsquo;s using TIF money for something other than housing. In 2010, the city council approved three million dollars in TIF funds for Loyd&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.urban-juncture.com/index.html" target="_blank">Urban Juncture</a>, which will be four restaurants with food from the African diaspora. The project, on 51st Street, will be a much needed oasis in a food desert.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not built yet, but the site is already an urban garden with kale and tomatoes and cooking pavillion.&nbsp; And a place where children can play tic tac toe and dominoes.</p><p>Still, Loyd&rsquo;s not sure what the city&rsquo;s larger vision is for the area.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re all excited to have Bronzeville named as an opportunity neighborhood and we would all agree that Bronzeville indeed is an opportunity neighborhood, so many unfilled needs. At the same time, I have yet to see a plan. There&rsquo;s language about opportunity but not much of a plan that says here&rsquo;s how we will capture the opportunity, here&rsquo;s how we will facilitate investment,&rdquo; Loyd said.</p><p>Another TIF project in Bronzeville is underway at 47th and Cottage Grove. Construction crews are building a Wal-Mart. Emanuel says he lured the retail giant as part of his Bronzeville plan &ndash; with hopes that it will spur additional retail investment. Right now some low-income and middle-class residents have to leave their South Side community just to go to a grocery store.</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to ignore the race factor when looking at the lack of economic development in black communities. So I directly asked Emanuel about the stigmatization of race on the South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, there&rsquo;s an economic and racial piece. On the other hand, our investment in Bronzeville will give some of the retailers &ndash; because it has all of the potential there &ndash; the confidence to come. They want to know it&rsquo;s stable and it&rsquo;s growing. We&rsquo;re not going to invest unless we also have that confidence and we&rsquo;re going to invest to give them the confidence to come to a Bronzeville,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor says that will soon include a deluxe grocery store on 39th Street.</p><p>But so far Mariano&rsquo;s is demurring.</p><p><strong>Here is a list of TIFs and their status in the Englewood and Bronzeville areas:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/49th_st_lawrencetif.html">49th/St. Lawrence</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/englewood_mall_tif.html">Englewood Mall TIF </a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/ryan_garfield_tif.html">Ryan/Garfield</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/43rd_cottage_grovetif.html">43rd/Cottage Grove</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/bronzeville_tif_.html">Bronzeville</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/24th_michigan_tif.html">24th/Michigan</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/englewood_neighborhoodtif.html">Englewood Neighborhood</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/47th_king_tif_.html">47th/King</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/lakefront_tif_.html">Lakefront</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/drexel_tif_.html">Drexel</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/madden_wells_tif.html">Madden/Wells</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/35th_state_tif.html">35th/State</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/40th_state_tif_.html">40th/State</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/47th_state_tif_.html">47th/State</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/26th_king_tif.html">26th/King</a></li><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/tif/pershing_king_tif.html">Pershing/King</a></li></ul><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/englewood-bronzeville-wait-mayor%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98opportunity%E2%80%99-plan-pay-108297 South Side neighborhoods vie for presidential library http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/south-side-neighborhoods-vie-presidential-library-107926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lakeside-kari-lydersen.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>A biting wind blew off the lake. A group of Southeast Side residents pulled their coats tight and gazed north to the downtown skyline. On this raw March day, they stood on the northern edge of the former site of U.S. Steel&rsquo;s South Works mill. The plant closed in 1992, and now all you see is rubble, weeds and mud.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But LaMeise Turner and her neighbors envision a glorious future for this spot. &quot;I would love to see the Obama library here,&quot; Turner said. &quot;I think that would be good, it would give access not just to the neighborhood but to everybody. Because he&rsquo;s the first African American president, the first one from Chicago, so I think this is an ideal place for it.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s right on the lake and the view is spectacular. Fertile mud from the Illinois River was trucked in to grow native plants and flowers. And if developers have their way, these hundreds of acres will be home to a glistening new neighborhood with tens of thousands of homes and businesses.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dan McCaffery, the developer spearheading the project known as Lakeside, said the Obama library would bolster this development and help revitalize the whole area. McCaffery said, &quot;I noticed in <em>Time</em> magazine September 2008, one quote of his is: &#39;I found my calling to public service in a community devastated by the loss of steel workers.&#39; So I think this would be a very nice way for him to put his imprint permanently in that community. We have a gorgeous site, sits on the lake, looks back at the city. So Dan McCaffery thinks Mr. President, you ought to be there.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are 13 official presidential libraries spread across the country. President Obama won&rsquo;t formally make the decision about his library until he&rsquo;s out of office. But the courtship has already begun.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There&rsquo;s no guarantee Obama&rsquo;s library will be in Chicago; the University of Hawaii is mulling a bid.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the top contender appears to be the University of Chicago. Obama was on the law school faculty there for years, and Michelle Obama held administrative positions too. A university spokesman said it is &ldquo;premature&rdquo; to comment, but many people think it&rsquo;s a done deal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This upsets Harold Lucas, who knew Obama in his days as a community organizer. Lucas said, &quot;I remember when he came to Chicago with his big ears sitting off his head, little bitty skinny guy. We went out to the Gardens. That&rsquo;s where I met him.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lucas is president of the Black Metropolis Convention and Tourism Council in Bronzevile. He&rsquo;d like the library to go on the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital. &quot;Knowing that Bronzeville began in 1916, we want to celebrate our centennial in 2016; the cherry on the sundae would be the presidential library,&quot; Lucas said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Then there are at least two other Chicago candidates for the library. Like the U.S. Steel site, they are on the Far South Side where Obama cut his teeth in community organizing.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chicago State University has enlisted former State Senate President Emil Jones to lure the library to its campus.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Others are pushing the historic Pullman neighborhood, near the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex. Tom Shepherd and other local history buffs have been trying for years to create a railroad museum in the old Pullman rail car factory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The University of Chicago, they already have so many resources,&quot; Shepherd said. &quot;I&rsquo;m sure they&rsquo;re going to make a big push for it, but I just feel that by bringing some of the university resources out to a neighborhood like Pullman would help Pullman, help Roseland, the neighboring communities that are really troubled right now.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ed Gardner, 88, is founder of Soft Sheen products and a long-time proponent of African American empowerment and economic development.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He&rsquo;s been a major Obama supporter and donor. He&rsquo;s also a big backer of Lakeside Development on the U.S. Steel site, and he thinks the Obama library would be the crowning touch.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Downtown or even the University of Chicago, they have their pluses,&quot; Gardner said. &quot;But President Obama came from the people, and they&rsquo;re the ones who put him into office, who worked these streets on the South Side of Chicago and all of the state of Illinois and the whole country. He would want the world to come through this part of the city on their way to see the library.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chicagoans like Ed Gardner still feel a strong connection to the president. Just as Obama started his career trying to help Chicago communities, now the decision about the library could go a long way toward revitalizing the South Side.</div></p> Wed, 03 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/south-side-neighborhoods-vie-presidential-library-107926 Parishioners watch as demolition of historic Chicago church begins http://www.wbez.org/parishioners-watch-demolition-historic-chicago-church-begins-107879 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130626_St. James demolition_kk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About a dozen parishioners stood outside in the rain Wednesday and watched as crews with sledgehammers started tearing down the roof of St. James Catholic Church in Chicago.</p><p>Parishioners have been<a href="http://friendsofstjamesonwabash.com/"> trying for months</a> to save the historic Bronzeville church designed by architect Patrick Keely in 1875.</p><p>At one point during the demolition, the small group of parishioners and preservationists broke out in a chorus of &ldquo;We Shall Overcome.&rdquo;</p><p>As pieces of the roof crashed down, author Mary Pat Kelly could be heard repeatedly crying, &ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly wrote a book based on the life of her great-great-grandmother, who worshipped at St. James. The church is significant to the city&rsquo;s Irish history, Kelly said.</p><p>&ldquo;For the Irish community, this is an icon, this is a shrine. To knock it down is beyond belief, especially because since then, the African-American community has maintained it, and it has become a symbol of their triumph over adversity.&rdquo;</p><p>Another spectator, 10-year-old Evelyn Wright, was there with her mom, who went to school there. Evelyn said she was sad because her mom was sad.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody&rsquo;s heartbroken,&rdquo; the girl said. &ldquo;You would never think that a place like this would - it would be tore down.&rdquo;</p><p>Preservationists said the church didn&rsquo;t need to be demolished. Ward Miller, board president of Preservation Chicago, said some developers were interested in restoring or reusing it.</p><p>A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago declined to comment.</p><p><br />Katie Kather is an Arts and Culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ktkather">@ktkather</a>.</p></p> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/parishioners-watch-demolition-historic-chicago-church-begins-107879 Morning Shift: Bronzeville seeks sustainable future to preserve past http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-04-24/morning-shift-bronzeville-seeks-sustainable-future <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bronzeville.jpg" alt="" /><p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-bronzeville-looks-to-a-sustainab.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-bronzeville-looks-to-a-sustainab" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Bronzeville looks to a sustainable future to preserve the past" on Storify</a>]<h1>Morning Shift: Bronzeville looks to a sustainable future to preserve the past</h1><h2>Paula Robinson of the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission explains how the group is implementing sustainability plans like preserving the Lakefront and Washington Park in its pursuit of distinction as a &quot;Black Metropolis&quot;. </h2><p>Storified by <a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ"></a>&middot; Wed, Apr 24 2013 09:03:38</p><div>20130307 37 CTA South Side L @ 35th Bronzeville IITdavidwilson1949</div><div><b>Retail and fast food workers strike</b><br><br>Sears workers Judy Luna explains some of the conditions and reasons that have her and other workers striking Wednesday morning in Chicago's Loop area.</div><div>Fight for 15Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago</div><div>Chicago fast food, retail workers plan strike todayCommunity organizers said they expect hundreds of fast food and retail workers in Chicago to walk off the job Wednesday in a campaign to ...</div><div><b>Chicago area home sales have 'awesome' month<br></b><br>Chicago magazine's Dennis Rodkin details how the Chicago area has bounced back from dismal sales.&nbsp;</div><div>Chicago Real Estate Was Awesome in March - Deal Estate - April 2013 - ChicagoGraphic: Courtesy of MREDLLC We may have had ridiculously cold weather in March, but the heat in the real estate market more than made up...</div><div><b>Bradley University student wins national speech contest</b><br><p><br>One college team dominating its field doesn’t strap oncleats, a helmet or even a jersey, and is a college you wouldn’t automaticallythink of:&nbsp;Bradley University. Its arena of choice is the podium,and the “players” are actually speakers.&nbsp; <a href="http://slane.bradley.edu/communication/speech-team" class="">The downstateIllinois team</a> has clobbered its rivals yet again at the prestigious <a href="http://www.nationalforensics.org/nationals" class="">National ForensicsAssociation</a> national tournament.&nbsp; The team cleaned up, taking home its41st overall national championship since 1978, <a href="http://www.bradley.edu/about/news/article.dot?id=078a19d5-a39e-468a-87c5-1e92b6c8a45e" class="">accordingto the team</a>.&nbsp; We speak with the man who brought home the grand prizefrom this year’s NFA national tournament, Kaybee Brown.</p></div><div><b>Bronzeville as Black Metropolis<br></b><br>The Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission has been pursuing designation as a Black metropolis and they have a new angle of pursuing sustainable efforts in the area. What do you know about Bronzeville?<br></div><div>About UsOrganizational Background: In 2004, the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership formed a steering committee to work on the Black Me...</div><div>Bronzeville Celebrates Groundbreaking Of New Shops, ApartmentsGround was broken Tuesday on a new commercial and residential development in Bronzeville, a project the likes of which haven't been seen ...</div><div>Why Are Pilsen and Bronzeville Redeveloping at Different Speeds? - Deal Estate - January 2013 - ChicagoChicago's Pilsen and Bronzeville neighborhoods have a lot in common. They are both near the Loop, have lots of public transportation, and...</div><div><b>Federal Criminal Defense in Boston Case<br></b><b><br></b>Career criminal defense attorney Jeff Urdangenexplains some of the issues the defense will face in the case of Boston Marathon suspect&nbsp;Dzhokhar Tsarnaev<b>. </b>Urdangan&nbsp;is Directorof the <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/legalclinic/" class="">Center for Criminal Defense at the Bluhm Legal Clinic of the Northwestern University School of Law.</a>&nbsp;<b><br></b></div><div>The Case Against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: A GuideOn Monday, the government filed formal charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon last week. He is ...</div><div>Boston Bombing: Spotlight On Federal Public DefendersHe may be one of the most hated men in America. But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is getting legal counsel from an office led by one of the nation's ...</div><div>Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with using 'weapon of mass destruction'Federal prosecutors announced terrorism charges against the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, outlining a chill...</div></noscript></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-04-24/morning-shift-bronzeville-seeks-sustainable-future Chicago mail carriers protest proposed cuts of Saturday delivery http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595 <p><p>More than 100 postal workers rallied in Chicago Monday to protest a proposed plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/postal-service-cut-saturday-mail-trim-costs-105372" target="_blank">announced the cuts earlier this month</a>, and has since gone head-to-head with members of Congress over whether the U.S. Postal Service is authorized to cut six-day service without congressional approval.</p><p>Postal carriers have responded with protests across the country. In front of a post office in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, mailmen spilled out onto the street holding signs and calling on Postmaster Donahoe to step down.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79829709" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of other cost-cutting measures they can try that they haven&rsquo;t even tried yet,&rdquo; said Janet Rendant, who has been a mail carrier for 25 years. &ldquo;At least give us a chance, give the public a chance.&rdquo;</p><p>She and others accused the post office of cutting union jobs before seeking out other savings, and said they don&rsquo;t believe cutting mail service will actually save the post office much money because it will also result in a loss of customers.</p><p>Mark Reynolds, who represents the postal service in Chicago, said they&rsquo;ve already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postal-service-close-naperville-processing-center-96657" target="_blank">closed facilities</a> and consolidated rural post offices to cut costs.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously these are very difficult decisions that we have to make,&rdquo; said Reynolds. &ldquo;But what we&rsquo;re trying to do is to maintain customer service to the extent possible.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79853510" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The U.S. Postal Service ended its 2012 fiscal year nearly $16 billion in the hole, and they say cutting Saturday delivery will save them $1.9 billion annually. The <a href="http://deliveringforamerica.com/" target="_blank">National Association of Letter Carriers</a> believes Congress can address the deficit by getting rid of a requirement that the postal service pre-fund its pension obligations.</p><p>A Congressional mandate that requires the post office to deliver mail six days a week expires March 27, but the cut to Saturday delivery would not go into effect until August. Delivery to PO boxes and package delivery would continue on Saturdays. Still, some <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/saturday-mail-delivery-cut-is-subject-of-senate-hearing.html" target="_blank">congressmen think the postmaster general is outside of his purview</a>, claiming any change to delivery days must be approved by Congress.</p><p>Mark Osier, a postal carrier for 38 years, attended the Chicago protest because he was concerned about younger postal workers&rsquo; jobs &ndash; and about his postal customers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7033_002-scr%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: right; height: 310px; width: 310px;" title="Mark Osier has been a postal carrier for 38 years. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;People look forward to the mailman coming,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Especially older people. It&rsquo;s their day&rsquo;s event.&rdquo;</p><p>The postal service paid for <a href="http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_024.htm" target="_blank">a survey</a> in February that found that 80 percent of Americans favor cutting mail delivery to five days a week.</p><p>But Osier said six-day postal delivery is symbolic. He and others at the protest say they believe cutting Saturday service marks the beginning of the end for postal workers, and for a long-standing tradition of unionized postal delivery jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an institution, this is as American as apple pie,&rdquo; Osier said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gotta keep it going.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595 Chicago neighborhood wants Obama library http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-neighborhood-wants-obama-library-104559 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F72643128" width="100%"></iframe></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/RS3598_Obama_Getty_Alex%20Wong.JPG" style="float: left; height: 192px; width: 300px;" title="President Barack Obama. (Getty)" />Another Chicago neighborhood is seeking to be the future home of the Barack Obama presidential library.</div><p>No official plans have been made yet. But residents in the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood say there&#39;s 37 acres there that are a perfect fit.</p><p>Harold Lucas is president of the Black Metropolis Convention &amp; Tourism Council in the neighborhood. He says the neighborhood is the ideal place to tell the story of the nation&#39;s first black president. Bronzeville is where a number of black leaders, artists and pioneers worked or lived.</p><p>&quot;The cherry on the sundae of us becoming a international, national heritage area of the black metropolis is the construction of the presidential library,&quot; Lucas said. He runs the council, which promotes tourism on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. Lucas gives black heritage tours in the area.</p><p>In addition to pushing that Bronzeville host the library, Lucas says the library should harken back to Obama&rsquo;s Chicago roots as an organizer.</p><p>&quot;(The library should include) a community organizing institute on the former site of Michael Reese Hospital,&quot; Lucas said.</p><p>Community meetings are underway to decide what to do with the land where the hospital once sat.</p><p>Several Chicago locations have expressed interest in the library, including an old U.S. Steel South Works site and the University of Chicago. The University of Hawaii has also been mentioned as a possibility.</p><p>There are 13 U.S. presidential libraries, which preserve records, papers and other historical materials.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 08:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-neighborhood-wants-obama-library-104559 Developer seeks second act for Bronzeville's historic Forum Hall http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-04/developer-seeks-second-act-bronzevilles-historic-forum-hall-98454 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212707.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 402px;" title=""></div><div class="image-insert-image ">My camera and I visited Bronzeville's historic, but vacant, Forum Hall over the weekend.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The 113-year-old structure, which once played a role in labor history, civil rights, jazz and even the advancement of U.S. Communism, came close to being demolished by the city last year when inspectors found extensive structural damage and loose, falling bricks.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now a new owner, Bronzeville developer Bernard Loyd, is trying to figure out what to do with the Forum. Located on the corner of 43rd and Calumet just east of the CTA's Green Line, reuse of the building and vacant adjoining storefronts could provide a spark to revitalized the bedraggled strip. But that will take time and money.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Lots </em>of money.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For now, Loyd has repaired the loose bricks, has organized volunteer clean-ups of the building and is seeking input from the neighborhood and IIT architecture students. And when time allows, he opens the doors to let people have a peek inside, as was the case Saturday...</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212724.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 405px;" title=""></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The photo above shows the heart of the Forum: The big second-story hall which has a stage, a small balcony, and an expansive floor. It hosted a 1913 plumbers ball; Community Party labor meetings in the 1920s and 1930s and the 45th national convention of black Elks lodges. As the photo below shows, the Elks had offices in the rear of the building. The late jazz upright bassist Milt Hinton cut his teeth in this space around 1930, according to his autobiography <em>Playing the Changes</em>.&nbsp;<div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212770.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 348px;" title=""></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Below is a 1970s organ in a former lounge on the ground floor:</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212700.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 405px;" title=""></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Loyd directs a tour of the building Saturday:</div></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212755.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 405px;" title=""></div><div class="image-insert-image ">An old deck of cards on the hall's window sill:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P4212731.jpg" style="width: 540px; height: 405px;" title=""></div></div><p>That old deck is a proper metaphor for the Forum. It's a gamble--a bit of chance--to resurrect the structure. Much of the back-of-house space is severely dilapidated with rotted away floors, peeling paint, exposed lathe, stripped-out fixtures and missing partition walls. Many spaces are so far gone, you can't tell what functions they originally served.</p><p>When Hinton played the Forum back in 1930, that stretch of East 43rd St was a dense commercial thoroughfare. And it remained the way, albeit a bit tattered, until the 1970s. But by 1988, much of what was there had vanished, replaced by the yawning city-owned lots that are there now. You look at the Forum--a building that could either symbolize a new beginning for 43rd Street or typify what's been happening there for 40 years--and you can't help but wonder what's really in the cards.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-04/developer-seeks-second-act-bronzevilles-historic-forum-hall-98454 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 Homeless youth express themselves in 'Unspoken Words' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/homeless-youth-express-themselves-unspoken-words-91020 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/1heart1soul.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Several groups work with Chicago's homeless population; <a href="http://www.1heart1soul.org/" target="_blank">One Heart One Soul</a> is a local group that runs programs to raise awareness on homelessness and other social issues. One of its programs, <a href="http://www.1heart1soul.org/events.html" target="_blank">Unspoken Words: A Voice For Homeless Youth</a>, had an eight-week stint at a shelter on Chicago's South Side. For WBEZ, <a href="http://fearnoartchicago.com/about/" target="_blank">Elysabeth Alfano</a> visited that shelter to learn how art helped the young residents tap into their pasts.</p><p><em>Music Button: Blue States, "Bare Bones", from the CD Man Mountain, (ESL)</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 13:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/homeless-youth-express-themselves-unspoken-words-91020 Ain't that good news? Singer Sam Cooke gets street renamed in his honor http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-17/aint-good-news-singer-sam-cooke-gets-street-renamed-his-honor-87997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/Cooke_in_studio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/E6kzP5dHuZI" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Watch the above clip of Sam Cooke singing his 1957 hit <em>You Send Me </em>on <em>American Bandstand</em>.</p><p>He's cool. Confident. Assured. "A lil' bit sexy," a female friend emailed me when I sent her this clip. And most certainly a star on the rise.</p><p>Cooke was shot to death in an Los Angeles motel at the height of his fame in 1964 under circumstances that still baffle. But his music continues to resonate nearly a half century later.</p><p>Cat Stevens, Luther Vandross, The Pretenders and countless others have remade or referenced Cooke songs over the past 40 years. Cooke songs have turned up in 20 different movies and television shows over the past two decades, according to Internet Movie Database.</p><p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl3lx3xfhtI&amp;playnext=1&amp;list=PL5817EAAA7F8F32F9"><em>Twisting the Night Away</em></a> was featured in that awful <em>Green Hornet</em> movie earlier this year. They played <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v09Rc2AAQPs"><em>Shake</em></a> in an episode of HBO's<em> The Wire</em>. And I still get the chills when Cooke's <em>A Change is Gonna Come</em> is played in a pivotal scene toward the end of <em>Malcolm X</em>. (It begins at 2:34 <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M23exYfGBl8">in this clip</a>.)</p><p>Sam Cooke's latest honor comes Saturday at 2pm when a stretch of 36th Street in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood will be renamed <em>Sam Cooke Way</em>, marking the place where the late, great soul singer spent his formative years. The renamed section begins at Cottage Grove and runs east, passing the site at 36th and Ellis where Cooke's boyhood home once stood.</p><p>Cooke's great-nephew Erik Greene spent four years advocating for the honorary street renaming. Greene is also the writer of a Cooke biography called <em><a href="http://www.ourunclesam.com/">Our Uncle Sam</a></em>. I asked him a few questions about Cooke and his legacy.</p><p>Q: Why is this honorary street important?</p><p><strong>A: I was born and raised in <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_2">Chicago</span> but never had an appreciation for the rich&nbsp;musical history of Bronzeville until I researched its history for what would eventually become&nbsp;<em><u>Our <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_3" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Uncle Sam.</span></u></em> It was then I learned Bronzeville was home to not just Sam, but&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_4">Nat King Cole</span>, <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_5" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Dinah Washington</span>, <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_6">Lou Rawls</span>, and a host of&nbsp;other musical greats. Sam had already been recognized on the Bronzeville <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_7" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Walk of Fame</span>, but&nbsp;his exclusion on a 35th and State Street mural commemorating famous Bronzeville residents&nbsp;gave&nbsp;me the impetus to&nbsp;make&nbsp;his street naming--a more permanent&nbsp;form of recognition--a reality.</strong></p><p>Q: His music is still appreciated, isn't it? Even my teenage daughters and a couple of their friends are fans.</p><p><strong>A: Good music is eternal and has the ability to transcend all age barriers. Sam adopted a simple, straight-forward songwriting&nbsp;style, and he wrote songs the common man could relate to.&nbsp;As a result, his music is timeless--easily appreciated and&nbsp;understood&nbsp;by all ages and&nbsp;generations. This type of pure simplicity is a long-lost art form.</strong></p><p>Q: What will tomorrow's street-renaming ceremony look like?</p><p><strong>A:<em> </em>Sam's street naming ceremony&nbsp;will consist of recognizing Sam's legacy and the importance of this particular street by&nbsp;myself, my cousin Eugene Jamison who will speak on behalf of the Cook&nbsp;family, Bronzeville political representatives, and&nbsp;Gregg Parker, CEO of the<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/entertainment&amp;id=7683801"> Chicago Blues Museum</a>. I formally met Gregg after the street naming had been approved&nbsp;by the&nbsp;<span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_8" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Chicago City Council</span>, and his musical&nbsp;interest in&nbsp;Sam and the Bronzeville&nbsp;neighborhood fueled the event to its current prominence.&nbsp;A City of Chicago proclamation will be read, and local&nbsp;celebrities may be on the program as well.</strong></p><p>Q: One last question. For decades there has been talk of a Sam Cooke movie. If one were made, who'd play Sam?</p><p><strong>A:</strong> <strong>Ever since Sam's death, talk of a movie based on his life has heated up&nbsp;on several occasions only to fizzle out and go nowhere, and&nbsp;"Who&nbsp;should play <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_9" style="border-bottom: 2px dotted rgb(54, 99, 136); cursor: pointer;">Sam Cooke</span>?" is&nbsp;an age-old question that's been&nbsp;kicked around by&nbsp;Sam Cooke fans&nbsp;for generations.&nbsp;In the early 70s, talk of <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_10">Marvin&nbsp;Gaye</span>&nbsp;portraying Sam was squashed when&nbsp;Gaye declared himself not worthy of the honor.&nbsp;Actors from <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_11" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Blair Underwood</span> to <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_12" style="cursor: pointer; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% transparent;">Denzel Washington</span> to <span class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1308320409_13">Will Smith</span> have been discussed more recently, but because Sam died at&nbsp;33,&nbsp;these actors have invariably grown too old.&nbsp;Having been fooled by the several false-starts over the years, I've stopped speculating as to who could play Sam on the silver screen, but still smile at some of the suggestions.</strong></p><p>And before we go, dig this: Sam Cooke singing Bob Dylan's <em>Blowing in the Wind.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/PBDdLgBO0Nw" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 13:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-06-17/aint-good-news-singer-sam-cooke-gets-street-renamed-his-honor-87997