John Jones-The Black Laws/Black Codes
Poet Baba Tony Brown of East Garfield Park loves writing. He got started in grammar school, and today, he’s a professional storyteller. Here he writes to educate people about the “Black Laws” that denied rights to African-Americans, and John Jones, the man who fought to repeal them. Jones was a Cook County commissioner and abolitionist whose home and business provided stops on the Underground Railroad.
Click here to read this piece.
Verse Journalism is a form of poetry inspired by the news. It was born here in Chicago when Gwendolyn Brooks coined the term. Another gifted local poet, Quraysh Ali Lansana, taught the form to participants in a Neighborhood Writing Alliance special workshop series. Lansana had NWA writers turn their opinions and reactions to news events into poems, which WBEZ will present throughout the month of April in celebration of National Poetry Month. This series was recorded in collaboration with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, a station partner.
Click here to listen to other Verse Journalism recordings made as part of this project.
You can also listen to Quraysh Ali Lansana speak with WBEZ's Jason Marck about the origins of verse journalism and his own experiences with the form.
Editor's Note: The poem suggests Jones College Prep high school was named after John Jones. The correct school namesake is William Jones, who became the first president of the Board of Education in 1840.