Speaker 1: This is Reset I'm Natalie Moore in for Sasha-Ann Simons David Barksdale and Mayor Richard J Daley or two names you might not put together. But scholar Lance Williams does just that in his new book, King, David and Boss Daily, The Black Disciples, Mayor Daley and Chicago on the edge. Williams argues that amid urban renewal in the city to men rule their respective Black and Irish neighborhoods with an Iron Fist. Lance joins us in studio to talk about the story. Welcome to Reset
Speaker 2: Thank you for having me. Alright.
Speaker 1: People know who Mayor Boss Daily was. Big guy. Chicago accident accent formidable, but who was David Barksdale?
Speaker 2: Well, David Barksdale was the he was the equivalent I think of mayor daily in his early years. So he was that Chicago swag African American male street guy who had a similar ambitions as Mayor Daily. So if you could think of Mayor Daley and Black with, I would always say um historical. So, so David is an individual who had the ambition but didn't have the historical opportunity that Daley had
Speaker 1: and you're making those comparisons. You're not. David Barksdale was not an elected official for those listening. You might say, wait, was he uh an alder? Um But what did he do?
Speaker 2: Well, he was, he was the first leader of one of Chicago's largest street gangs of street organizations. Um They started off as a devil's disciples. Uh came to be known as most people know them as the black disciples. So he was the first leader who had ambitions to um take the organization in the direction of black political empowerment. However, always found himself on the wrong end of the law targeted by law enforcement uh and ended up a pretty much criminalized but also a history, you know, in the black community, particularly the street community, ended up becoming kind of a icon of a king of the street, so to speak.
Speaker 1: At what point did you realize Barksdale's story needed to be braided in with dailies?
Speaker 2: Oh, that's a great question. Um So I've always been really interested in um two things. One even from a little boy, I've always been interested in um the Black Power movement. That era of the 19 sixties has always been very uh important to me, but also how that era was was influenced by black street gangs, right? And so um talking to just growing up and doing work in the black community, particularly with young people as, as a former street gang interventionist outreach specialist, the stories of the streets um where I always found captivating, we're captivating to young people, young African American males who were involved in the streets, were always interested in the stories of these organizations, street gang history and culture. Uh And I knew that um when that population is interested in something, the broader population tends to be interested in it as well because they tend to be um at the forefront of defining what's cool and was popular. So because King David as they called him was kind of one of their heroes. I knew that it was a story that needed to be told and the broader society probably would be interested in it. Let's
Speaker 1: talk about the childhood in the upbringing of both men. Barksdale was born on a plantation in Mississippi.
Speaker 2: Yes. Yes, he was, his parents' were sharecroppers in a small town in the Mississippi Delta called Sallis, Mississippi. And the story very similar to most African Americans who eventually migrate to the North. Um uh Father was chased away because of um, a conflict that he had with a white man in, in Sallis had to leave, um, under the threat of losing his life, ended up in Chicago and then eventually saved up enough money to bring his family to Chicago.
Speaker 1: And what did Barksdale find when he came to Chicago? And how did he socialize?
Speaker 2: Yeah. So, so David, when he got here and his family got here, it was kind of like on the back end of the, um, the, the end of the greatness of Bronzeville Bronzeville was kind of on his way out. You know, we had um Justin 48 restrictive covenants and that black people are beginning now to kind of be pushed out of, out of the Bronzeville community. Uh The Dan Ryan Expressway was about to be built. And so family when they got here to um around 47th and federal is where they lived in the building that they were, lived living in, was condemned and demolished. And so they were forced to move to Inglewood. So when we got here, basically, he was on 47th street, which was a hot strip at the time. And he was really, you know, very much influenced by kind of a night life on 47th street or the street life on 47th street. And that, that had a big impression on his life.
Speaker 1: And so all the things that you just named lead to the marginalization. I mean, there is the promise of great migration for African Americans moving here. But then there's the discrimination that they are facing with their neighborhoods. And so Barksdale, the, the first version of the disciples of the devil disciples, black men coming together uh Paris social in, in some ways, in many ways. But you have Daly who was in organizations all so that we're not called gangs, talk about that.
Speaker 2: Well, you know, so daily who grew up in what was called the Hamburg Parish, the small little area within the broader Bridgeport community, right? The Irish or Irish neighborhood, Hardscrabble, Back of the Yards you know, folks who were on the lowest end of the white ethnic total poll, right? And so, um daily ultimately becomes a part of the same kind of element that David found himself a part of in, in Englewood Um However, daily being a part of a group called the Hamburg Athletic Association, which kind of was a nice name for ST Gang. But when you, when you look at and you read through the reports of the 1990 race riots, uh that kind of report out on how all of the riots actually happened. Those who wrote and law enforcement did not call them an athletic association and called them a straight up gang. And Daly was the president of that gang actually during the time of the 1919 race riots and the Hamburg Athletic Association or you know, Hamburg gang led a lot of the violence that was perpetrated against black people during that during that time. Although I
Speaker 1: have to say that there's been no proof that daily was writing or that he harms anyone during the 1919 riot. That is true, but he was president of the organization that was wrecking habit if you're just tuning in. This is Reset I'm Natalie Moore in for Sasha-Ann Simons And we are talking with scholars, Lance Williams about his latest book, King David and Boss Daily. It traces the stories of two of Chicago's most powerful leaders, Black disciples, King David Barksdale and Boss Mayor Richard J Daley. The two never met the right. They
Speaker 2: never met face to face, but their um their work and their organizations definitely interacting. And of course, daily knew of him uh and was very concerned about not only his leadership as the leader of the black disciples, but Daly was very concerned about the leadership and the movement and the potential um politicization of the Blackstone Rangers, the Black disciple and the Vice Lords. He was very concerned about that. As a matter of fact, he created a special unit called the Gangs Intelligence Unit to monitor their activity. Um kind of the same way J Edgar Hoover monitor and FBI monitor the the activities of Cointelpro civil rights organizations, but also the Blackstone Rangers as well.
Speaker 1: You were able to get a letter that I don't think had been public before that the teenage Barksdale wrote about the police. You talk about that letter. Yes.
Speaker 2: So um that letter which is a very important letter um actually um founded in the archives um deep, deep, deep down in archive's. But the letter was actually was open community complaint that David made after being beaten up by the police and had, you know, having his front teeth knocked out. If you check the book, you see a mug shot um of him with his teeth knocked out. Um And it was an incident where he actually was trying to break up a fight in the neighborhood when the police arrived. Um The police claimed that they didn't know that he was trying to break up the fight fight. They thought he was a part of it and he was brutalized basically. And so what happened was the wrote a letter um with the help and support of some of the people who were kind of his mentors to, to kind of complain about how the disciples were being treated by the police, but not just by the police, but by the black community as well. He felt like the black community uh didn't support him and young people. And so this letter, he complains about uh this mistreatment of the police and how the community is not supporting. And then he warned the community, if you don't help us, then we'll be forced not only to defend ourselves by any means necessary, not only against the police, but also the community as well, which I found out to be interesting. Also in the letter, he says something interesting to um and um understanding that he, his organization of black disciples were in a kind of a fierce war with the Blackstone Rangers. He mentions in that letter and acknowledges them as a powerful organization, prideful organization, which is rare for uh some street guide gangbangers, so to speak, acknowledging that his faux also has some dignity and respect and should be, you know, should be taken um uh seriously in terms of what they could contribute to the community.
Speaker 1: Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders came to Chicago in the sixties to fight housing discrimination and the Jim Crow in the north and they were out maneuvered many times by Boss Daily. What was the relationship that Barksdale and the disciples had with movement leaders who were coming up here during that time?
Speaker 2: Yes. So the relationship was if you recall when, when Dr King and SCL see first came to Chicago and announced that they were coming to Chicago, many of the black black elected officials and um uh faith leaders, uh pastors and preachers were against him. They did not welcome Dr King. And so for the movement, Dr King needed bodies to protest in March and because he wasn't getting that support from black elected officials, there was an individual within his leadership organization and individual named James Bevel, who had relations with the streets of Chicago and who uh suggested that they reach out to street gang members that the Vice Lord Blackstone's and the Blackstone Rangers and the Black disciples to be a part of their movement and they were successful in recruiting them. And so in many of those early March is you will see all of the street gangs there are protesting, helping Dr King and supporting him through his movement here in Chicago.
Speaker 1: And what did King think of the disciples? King
Speaker 2: was a little leery, kind of a little suspicious um but kind of was um kind of force to deal with them because uh Bevel was so adamant and, and, and having them to participate and devils was such a key part of Dr King's leadership. I don't think Dr King was completely comfortable with that so called element. But he was, he really had no choice at that time because it was difficult for him to pull um other more mainstream groups into his um movement. Initially, eventually he was able to do it. But initially, it was difficult for
Speaker 1: him. In the intro of the book, you write that you didn't make this story up no matter how unbelievable, it sounds like you've been doing this work for decades. But as you were researching this, what did you find that felt a little unbelievable even to U oh
Speaker 2: Wow, let's see. I mean, you know, I don't, you know, I was fascinated, you know, OK, so I can tell you this, I was, I was always under the impression even growing up around these guys', right? That the blackstones were the one street gang that probably had more um relations with the Black Power movement. But in the research that I did with this book, I actually found out that David Barksdale was the street gang leader closest to Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party. They were actually friends who hung out on a daily basis,
Speaker 1: but they didn't, we thought so for those who don't know, I co wrote the Almighty Black piece donation, the Rise Fall and resurgence of an American Gang Woodlands that came out in 2011. And we thought, didn't we think back then that it was more of the stones that were more politicized than the disciples?
Speaker 2: Yes. Yes, we did think that. And um, did you just undo our research with? No, no, no, I think, I think they were more politicized. But if you recall, we also wrote about the tension between the Stones and the Black Panthers, right? And so my, because of that, you know, um I think that, I think that's the only outlier in terms of the black politics, part of it. But I was surprised to know the relationship between the close relationship between David Barksdale and, um, and uh Chairman Fred Hampton. That was something that was, you know, really, really interesting to me. They spent a lot of time together. Um, they were very impressed with each other leadership and I think if David had lived past, you know, his 27th birthday, I think things would have been much different. And, and then of course, if, if Chairman Fred wasn't assassinated and
Speaker 1: it's not, it's not a spoiler to say that David Barksdale died and, but he did not die from street violence, right?
Speaker 2: And that's another, you know, I've, I've seen hundreds of times where it was reported that David Barksdale was, was murdered and he was shot to death, which is not true.
Speaker 1: Brandon Johnson is our New mayor. And he's talked about youth jobs to prevent crime. And that was something that was tried here in Chicago in the sixties with the war on poverty, with the stones and the disciples. What went wrong? And what does the Johnson administration need to keep an eye on as it formulates its youth jobs plan?
Speaker 2: You know, when you said Johnson administration,
Speaker 1: I know I meant John, I meant Brandon Johnson, Lyndon B Johnson administration with the war on poverty, right?
Speaker 2: So, so I think, you know, I've had an opportunity to work with in and with Braden. And so what Brandon understands is that um there is a cultural um and a value system in place in the African American community that has to be in place when you engage the streets write. So I think the Lyndon B Johnson administration did not understand that and they thought that, you know, you could just give money to um groups of youth and, and I don't know what made them think that, but um Brandon wouldn't make the same mistake. He would, I'm sure he would make sure that um um that the proper professional um infrastructure was in place to engage the streets. You don't just come and drop millions of dollars into the hands of, of, of, of young men who are actively involved in the streets that there has to be a process of mediating that and not saying that they dont deserve that opportunity. They do, but it has to be done within a professional capacity.
Speaker 1: Thats Lance Williams, author of King David and Boss Daily, the Black disciples, Mayor Daley and Chicago on the edge. Thanks so much for coming
Speaker 2: in. Thanks for having me Natalie.
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