by Lesley R. Chinn
Before U.S. Senator Barack Obama emerged as the first Black president of the United States on November 4, 2008, 25 years earlier, Congressman Harold Washington was elected Chicago’s first Black mayor. On November 25, 2008, the city observed the 21st anniversary of the late Mayor’s death.
Chicago’s image of corrupt politics has been helped by both of these figures, changing the way people view the city, both nationally and abroad. At a party held shortly after his re-election on April 7, 1987, the late Mayor said to a group of supporters, “In the old days, when you told people in other countries that you were from Chicago, they would say, ‘Boom-boom! Rat-a-tat-tat!’ Nowadays, they say, ‘How’s Harold?’!”
With Obama’s election, the Citizen talked to renowned WVON radio host and magazine reporter for “In These Times,” Salim Muwakkil. Muwakkil, the author of “Harold: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years,” featuring photographs by Antonio Dickey, and Marc PoKempner, first became fascinated with Harold in 1976 when Mayor Richard J. Daley died and the Chicago Democratic Machine refused to allow then 34th Ward Ald. Wilson Frost, who is Black and who was the city’s President Pro Temp, to become the next mayor.
Muwakkil, who interviewed Washington as a Congressman for the Chicago Reader, recalled that the failure to elect Frost sparked protests among Black leaders. The controversy led the Black community to set up a series of meetings in search of a qualified African-American mayoral candidate to run in the 1983 election. Those actions resulted in Harold Washington becoming Chicago’s first Black Mayor.
Citizen: What propelled these two Black leaders to social power? Was it social politics or was it their charisma and charm with the people that carried them through?
Muwakkil: What propelled them is a mixture of their own internal motivation and the times that opportunities provided by the environment of the times. Harold Washington took advantage of the fact that Richard M. Daley was running against Jane Byrne…and that split the White vote and allowed Harold an opportunity to get in between those two warring Irish factions and assert the Black vote in a strong way. Senator Obama had a completely different dynamic. Most Black people didn’t really support him because they really supported Hillary Clinton until he won in Iowa. Once we realized that White people would vote for (Obama), we said that he had a good chance of making it and so let’s get behind him. It was Black people that propelled Harold and White people said that he’s got all this solid Black support and let’s get onboard.
Citizen: Do you think that both Harold and Obama helped unite the Black community into supporting one candidate? Muwakkil: Harold united Black Chicago like nobody has and nobody has done it since. Obama had a lot of Black support — almost unanimous Black support— because Black people saw that White people would vote for him and we had to do everything we could to help him win. Harold had this Black support because he simply inspired Black loyalty. Harold and Obama were working in different stadiums. Barack had a much wider stadium and many more considerations to make and potential pitfalls than Harold and he had to be more careful. Anything that hinted that he would be an angry Black man—that would have done (Obama) in. Now Harold was often pictured and relished as the angry Black man to let you know that we’re not going to take it anymore in Chicago and that really inspired Black people. They had different playing fields. Harold Washington performed well on his playing field and Barack Obama performed exceedingly well on his to get through it all. Citizen: How would you compare the campaign styles of Obama and Washington?
Muwakkil: There are some similarities. I did a book on Harold Washington called “Harold: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years,” with Antonio Dickey and Marc PoKempner. In one of the pictures, we have a photograph of Harold Washington where he was at the Hilton. It was during the vote primary (sic) and he was watching the vote count process in a suite where a group of White progressives and many of those same ones who were in that photograph were essential in the Barack Obama campaign. In many ways, Obama appealed to those same kinds of White progressive constituencies that Harold Washington appealed to…We have [an] excerpt where Obama talked about his first exposure to people talking about Harold Washington in his barber shop and how he saw in their faces and gestures and voices…he understood just how Harold Washington inspired the Black community.
Citizen: Do you think Obama soaked in some of what Harold did in regards to his own campaign? Muwakkil: Yeah. I think that’s why he came to Chicago essentially is because the city is really the Black political capital of America. He understood that Harold Washington was the embodiment of that and he absorbed that very carefully. Citizen: Do you think that Obama would have commanded the support he would have gotten if he were running for president in 1983 or 1987 when Washington ran for Mayor? Why or why not?
Muwakkil: No, no, it wouldn’t have worked. This country wasn’t mature enough racially to accept that kind of candidacy from a Black man. The field hadn’t been plowed yet. (Rev). Jesse (L. Jackson) and others helped plow that field. Jesse’s campaign in 1984 and 1988 was the beginning of a serious quest for White House power for Black politicians. We’ve often forget how popular Jesse Jackson was especially in his 88’ campaign. He attracted a lot of White votes and won the Michigan primary. He was formidable. I think that plowed the field for someone like Barack Obama to run.
Citizen: According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Obama’s campaign raised more money in the first quarter of 2008 at over $133 million than in 2007 at $103 million. By the General Election, he raised a total of more than $650 million. Obama attributed this to the use of collecting donations from private donors rather than the use of public campaign funds. Obama has broken all fundraising records of previous presidential campaigns. How do you think this will change the face of future presidential campaigns, or better yet any political campaign?
Muwakkil: I’m a little wary of the precedent this may set because one of the longstanding demands of the progressive political movement in this country is to take money out of politics. When you have a politician who is disproportionately wealthy, they have an advantage and so money becomes an advantage and it perpetuates privileges. The progressive movement has always been urging the government to become less dependent on political fundraising. On the other hand, a whole new paradigm has been created through the Internet (because) it can reach deeper into political constituencies…than we ever had been able to reach before. Small donors can contribute and have as much of an impact as large donors. This may in fact be fulfilling the argument of conservatives who have argued that political donations are like freedom of speech. The conservatives say if you limit the amount of money you can donate, you’re actually limiting the freedom of speech of someone’s political allegiance. Technology has equalized things in ways we haven’t expected.
Citizen: How would you describe Obama and Washington’s campaign styles as far technology is concerned?
Muwakkil: The fundraising expertise that was demonstrated by the Obama campaign was astounding. That notion of going to the Internet and cultivating small donors who can continue to provide increments of funding here and there whenever necessary, that was an amazing insight. The idea of [the] community organizing model from the bottom up, which is how the campaign used its campaign office, was also an innovation that can be attributed to the Obama campaign and perhaps his community organizing experience…
Citizen: How do you see Harold’s legacy in Obama?
Muwakkil: Obama realized that he had to broaden his campaign beyond the parochial concerns of the Black community, but Harold did the same thing. A lot of people were angry at Harold because he wanted to be fair. I think that is one of the lessons that Senator Obama learned. He had to craft a progressive platform that could attract Blacks and Whites, not necessarily on issues of race, but on issues on political fairness and social justice.
Citizen: What if anything, will this mean for a new generation of leaders?
Muwakkil: It eliminates the mental barrier that many of our people [have] concerning the notion of accomplishment. It opened the road on their aspirations and (Obama) proved to many folks that you could succeed, if you simply had the right formula. That’s always been our problem (with Black people) because we act as though we don’t have that ability…and what Barack Obama does is that he demonstrates to us that we can apply ourselves and succeed.
by Lesley R. Chinn
While Gov. Rod Blagojevich is still making up his mind about whom to select to succeed Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, a group of South suburban mayors and other elected officials came together to endorse Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (2nd District) to take the seat.
At a press conference last Saturday in Country Club Hills, the group hoped to send a message to the Governor about why they think the Congressman should be selected. “We’re here to influence the decision process by saying that we believe we have a superior candidate from this congressional district that could represent the entire state of Illinois,” said Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch.
“He’ll be a wonderful spokesman for Illinois,” Welch continued. “He’ll help get the economic stimulus going for our state,” he said. “There’s no question. He’s very electable.”
If Congressman Jackson is appointed, he’ll have to serve out the remainder of Obama’s term which ends in 2010. At that time, whoever is selected, would have to campaign for the office in order to retain the seat.
Hazel Crest Mayor Robert Donaldson added that Jackson’s agenda mirrors President-elect Obama’s. “He [Jackson] has the same attitude and respect for President Obama,” Donaldson stated.
South Chicago Heights Mayor David Owen described the Congressman as “young, vibrant, and energetic,” while Richton Park Mayor Rick Reinbold added that Jackson has only missed two votes during his entire seven-year tenure. He expressed confidence in his ability to serve the Southland well in the Senate. “It would be a great asset for the people of Illinois,” he said.
As a member of the House Appropriations committee, Olympia Fields Mayor Lindsey Fields said Jackson has brought home more than $600 million in various projects statewide that have gone towards infrastructure projects; colleges and universities; housing and health care programs; and police and firefighter grants. “He will hit the ground running in the Senate and we know that he will be a great leader in supporting the initiatives of our president both domestically and internationally,” Fields stated.
While East Hazel Crest represents the smallest South suburb, it is part of a diverse 2nd Congressional District that includes the Far South side of Chicago and South suburban Cook County in addition to portions of Will County. “Congressman Jackson does not just work with Democrats, he works with Republicans, Independents, business, labor, old, young, city and suburbs. He represents and works for a very diverse community and we expect that work will continue as he represents the State of Illinois,” stated East Hazel Crest Mayor Thomas Brown.
Rich Township Committeeman Tim Bradford spoke on behalf of state Rep. Al Riley (D-38) who could not be in attendance. In a released statement, Riley said, “Congressman Jackson has been one of the most effective members of the Illinois Congressional delegation since his election in 1995. His effectiveness has been made manifest by his commitment to local and regional economic development, human capital enhancement and equity in all modes of transportation. There are very few people who could travel the length and breadth of this state, espousing issues of public policy that are germane to each region,” he said.
South Holland Mayor Don De Graff, who also issued a statement in support of Congressman Jackson, added, “I have been privileged to work closely with Congressman Jackson on many regional initiatives. He has been a model legislator and a tireless champion for his diverse district, as well as for our state as a whole. His support of regional initiatives such as the third airport and the Southeast Metra line will benefit not only his constituents, but all of Illinois,” he said.
When asked about news reports of the Governor possibly appointing himself to the U.S. Senate seat, the group had no comment and reiterated support for Jackson. In response to questions about what could possibly happen to the Congressman’s seat if he is appointed, Welch and University Park Mayor Al McCowan said that it’s unknown as to who would take the Congressman’s seat, however, they added that the Governor would probably go through the same process in terms of appointing someone to replace Jackson.
by Lesley R. Chinn
The state of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Association (SBA) are currently teaming up to provide disaster relief assistance. They announced that assistance is available between now and December 2.
With only 13 days left to qualify for assistance, the two groups are encouraging people to take advantage of funding as a result of the Presidential declaration, which was requested in October by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, due to the Hurricane-Ike related flooding in September. Assistance is available in disaster-designated areas within Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, La Salle and Will Counties.
As of November 17, more than $41.7 million of federal assistance had been approved for over 38,858 of Illinois residents and 35,457 Cook County residents, according to FEMA officials. FEMA also reported that more than 2,628 people visited the Oak Forest Disaster Recovery Center located at Oak Forest Hospital on 15900 S. Cicero and there were 322 visits at the Albany Park Recovery Center located at Northeastern Illinois University’s Physical Education Building on 3600 W. Foster.
While FEMA does not provide loans, grants are available up to $30,300 to help with disaster related expenses such as repairing a home, renting a temporary place, if your home cannot be in you due to the storm and repairing or replacing lost personal property, said Kim Anderson, a FEMA spokesman.
When people come to register, they should come with the address of the damaged property; social security number; homeowners’ insurance and their telephone number. AFEMA inspector will then make a site visit to inspect the property free of charge, Anderson stated. FEMA will determine what benefits residents qualify for based on the information they provide. Anyone who needs assistance in Cook County must now call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) for more information or questions. They can also visit: www.fema.gov for details.
For business assistance, applicants can go to the SBA. Disaster loans are available for up to $2 million for repairs or replacements of damaged or destroyed property, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available only to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.
For homeowners or renters who are underinsured, they can qualify for a SBA low-interest loan for up to $200,000 for structural damage on their homes. For damaged or destroyed personal property including vehicles, applicants can qualify for loans up to $40,000. “Some people like to wait closer to the deadline, but we are encouraging them not to procrastinate. A lot of people are missing out on an opportunity, but the sooner they (get assistance) the better,” said Bonny Wright, an SBA spokesman. SBA disaster assistance information is available by calling 800-659-2955, or by visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
Morgan D. Carter “The World’s Conversation Starter” Died Sunday, November 16th. He was released last Friday from Ingalls Hospital after being treated for chest pains.
A viewing will be held on Friday, November 21 at the Robey Park Manor Funeral Home, 2510 Chicago Road in Chicago Heights from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The wake for Carter will be held on Saturday, November 22 at the House of Prayer Church, 3535 W. Roosevelt Rd with a viewing at 10 a.m. The funeral will immediately follow at 11 a.m. The burial will be held after the funeral at Mt. Hope Cemetery, 11500 S. Fairfield.
Carter was a motivational speaker; radio/TV/Internet host; producer; voiceover professional; and spokesman. He was known as “The World’s Conversation Starter” because he is a Black talk radio and TV host having had shows on WVON-AM; WGCI-FM, V103-FM, WSSD-FM, WBEE-AM. WGCR Web Satellite Radio, WCFJ-1470AM and WBGX 1570AM.
During his tenure, Morgan also hosted many other radio and cable TV programs including the Chicago Media Connection on channel 19 and special features. He helped to assemble the first all black male audience for the Phil Donahue Show in the late 70’s. Mr. Carter was a part of a television marketing team which placed positive images of African Americans, Hispanics, Natives, and Asian Americans throughout the nation on TV and cable networks serving over 20 million households. Morgan Carter has received a number of honors and citations including a nomination in Who’s & Who in America.
He was frequently sought after as a Motivational Speaker, Professional and Personal Development Facilitator also and a Humorous Master of Ceremonies. The Worlds Conversation Starter served as a Media Counsel for the Chicago Local Organizing Committee of the Million Man March and since he performed in that capacity beginning in September of 1995, he has handled over 550 inquiries, interviews and debates regarding the October 16, 1995 Million Man March. Morgan Carter has provided Media, Public, Political and Government relations counsel and assistance to many entrepreneurs, news personalities, entertainment, professional athletes, local, national, international, politicians, and statesmen through a variety of network services and venues including channel Straight Talk Program.
The Morgan Memos hosts a series of forums and functions which will increase client visibility amongst media, business outlets, representatives, politicians, religious leaders, community advocates, social service agencies as well as consumers. Carter is a rare breed who’s seen, heard and read about on local cable TV, regular TV, radio, newspapers as well as the Internet. Morgan developed The Morgan Memos on the World Wide Web to provide media advisories and briefings to more than 40 media outlets and to many key VIP’s and business executives. The Worlds Conversation Starter ensures that important news, views, and trends concerning African Americans are disseminated across the nation and around the world. Morgan Carter was married to Wanda Armstrong Carter, who produced all of Morgan’s TV programs.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
While suburban Mayors and other elected officials were endorsing Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (2nd District) in the South suburbs for U.S. Senate, West Side officials recently came together to show support for Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7) as the best candidate to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.
West Side Black Elected Officials (WBEO) met at the former Sears building and endorsed Davis, citing reasons why they feel he is the best candidate for the position. During the event, Davis’work to pass legislation in DC for ex-offenders who have been given a second chance, including men who went to jail because they could not pay child support, was highlighted. “Instead of taking the whole person’s paycheck for back child support, they work out a payment plan where the person gets to keep some of their money,” Davis stated. “They do not have money left on their paycheck, which makes them reluctant to work,” he added.
“This is a day for which I have been preparing all of my life,” Davis said. “I am pleased that so many of my fellow elected officials, clergy, staff, friends, community leaders and neighbors have joined in to let Governor Blagojevich and the citizens of Illinois know that you would like to have me represent you in the U.S. Senate. I am humbled by your presence and appreciate it very much,” he said.
“In Congress, I have been one of its most effective members in getting original bills passed. I have teamed up with Republicans like J.C. Watts, Jim Talent, Richard Burr, Tom Osborne, Rob Portman, Chris Conner and John Shimbus, Jerry Wexler, Tim Johnson, and others to draft,” and successfully pass legislation, Davis said.
“We know that health care reform will continue to be at the forefront as one of the single most important issues that President-elect Barack Obama will address during his presidency. Health care reform is the single most critical issue facing not only African-Americans and other minorities but all Americans today; second only to the economy. With forty-five (45) million Americans uninsured; health care reform has never been more needed in this country as it is today, considering the economic crisis and fallout that we are all facing,” commented Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele (2nd District) in a release.
Alderman Emma Mitts, Chairman of the Chicago-based West Side Black Elected Officials said, “he [Davis] is a seasoned legislator who understands and embraces change, has a solid record of achievement and consistently displays a unique ability to advance policies critical to the future growth of Illinois — from the middle class and the disadvantaged, to minority and immigrant communities, labor, and the struggling corporate business sector. In these times of massive economic uncertainty, the stakes have never been higher. The leadership we send to the United States Senate must understand the will of the people and fight for the needs of the people, and Congressman Danny K. Davis is the right person for the job of U.S. Senator,” she said.
WBEO is an association of local, Black elected officials in Illinois and was founded in 2008 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and development of African-American legislators and elected officials. Their mission is to elevate the quality of, as well as access to, a wide range of issues including social, economic development, health care, public safety and other services rendered to urban and suburban, minority and middle-income communities of working families.
Two Congressmen and state veteran’s director among possible contenders
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Now that Barack Obama has been elected President, there has been some speculation brewing recently on his replacement in the U.S. Senate.
“Our next Senator has big shoes to fill. Because it’s important that the best person for Illinois is selected, I want to be clear that the calendar won’t dictate our search. Instead I want to ensure that Obama’s successor will understand and fight for the needs of average Illinoisans,” Governor Rod Blagojevich said in a released statement.
According to the 17th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Blagojevich has the authority to make the appointment for Obama’s vacancy. He would have to make a temporary appointment until the people fill the vacancy by election, as the legislature may direct.
“Blagojevich wants someone who will work with his administration to achieve his shared goals of ensuring access to affordable healthcare, rebuilding Illinois’ infrastructure, improving the economic security and livelihoods of Illinois workers and caring for the most vulnerable,” Ridgway stated. He also wants the candidate to prioritize the average Illinoisan who is too burdened by taxes and economic hardship.
Blagojevich did not reveal who he has in mind to fill the vacancy. “The governor will be speaking with a number of people and looking at different qualifications in the next couple of weeks to pick the best qualified candidate. It is important that we have a qualified person for working Illinoisans. It is going to be a timely process,” added Blagojevich spokesman Katie Ridgway.
Illinois Department of Veterans Director Tammy Duckworth and Congressmen Danny Davis (D-7) and Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-2) are among the possible contenders, who weighed in on the U.S. Senate vacancy.
“It is good to be a member of the House,” said Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7). “If I was asked to fill Obama’s vacancy, I would not say no.”
“I have been very focused on my current position fighting to improve benefits for the state’s Veterans and their families,” said Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth. “My goal is to continue to serve my country in the best way possible.”
“Like Barack, Jesse Jr. also would be one of the youngest members of the US Senate, meaning he is young enough to serve long enough to build up seniority in the Senate, which over time would be beneficial to Illinois residents. (Jesse Jr. would be the youngest member of the Senate,)” Rick Bryant spokesman for Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-2), said in a statement.
Blagojevich has to select someone before the end of December to fulfill Obama’s remaining six-year term which ends in 2010.
PUSH hosts funeral services for the late Cirilo McSween
by Lesley R. Chinn
After marching during the tumultuous 1960s with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., business leader Cirilo McSween saw the fruits of his labor come to reality after presidential election of U.S. Senator Barack Obama.
“He followed Barack Obama very closely. He was constantly watching CNN and reading all sorts of papers to keep up with what was going on during the campaign season. He followed the dream and the dream is almost fulfilled,” Veronica McSween, Cirilo’s daughter, said in a telephone interview last Friday with the Citizen.
McSween, who died at age 82 of cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas last Wednesday, was previously the subject of an exhibit, “McSween Meets King: A Civil Rights Story,” at the DuSable Museum. Veronica said King’s friendship and example taught him how to be fair, respectful, and treat everyone equal.
On Monday, funeral services for McSween were held at PUSH. The services attracted more than 400 people, including former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young; Panama President Martin Torrijos; Revs. Willie Barrow and Janette Wilson; Father Michael Pfleger; Don Thompson, president McDonald’s USA; John Rogers of Ariel Capital; and Blanton Canady, a Black McDonald’s Association member, according to PUSH officials. This tribute of life ceremony followed a visitation service on Sunday, also held at PUSH, where many also remembered McSween for his humanitarian life works.
During the funeral, family and friends shared unforgettable memories about McSween’s life beginning as a world track runner to a successful insurance agent, civil rights and business leader, and fundraiser for the Southern Leadership Christian Conference, Rainbow/PUSH; and the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaign of Rev. Jackson; and 1983 Mayoral campaign of Harold Washington.
Besides witnessing Obama’s election, Rev. Jackson said McSween also witnessed other historic moments such as Harold Washington becoming mayor in 1983; Andrew Young become U.S. Ambassador of the United Nations in 1977; and Nelson Mandela set free from a South African jail in 1990. “He fought the good fight and finished his course.”
McSween marched with King in the tumultuous 1960s and established a lifelong friendship with him until the late civil rights leader’s death in 1968. Besides serving as one of King’s pallbearers, McSween served as his national treasurer and executive board member for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He met King through Rev. Jackson after admiring the late civil rights leader from afar. This lifelong connection with Rev. Jackson and King led to McSween’s work as treasurer of Operation Breadbasket (now Rainbow/PUSH); treasurer of Mayor Harold Washington’s 1983 mayoral campaign; and campaign financial chairman for the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns of Rev. Jackson.
Born into poverty on July 8, 1926 in Panama, McSween was a champion runner in the Central American and Caribbean Olympics. There, McSween gained recognition as an individual sprinter and for being the anchor in the country’s relay team. He placed third in the Central American Olympics. It was through his athletic fame that McSween gained entry into the United States. He earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois where he shattered track and field records. While he stood out in athletics, McSween realized that academics would help lay the foundation for the rest of his life.
After studying business at the University of Illinois, McSween became a life insurance salesman and sold more than $1 million in policies for New York Life at a time when there were no black insurance agents. His achievements were often highlighted in Ebony Magazine and his example became a model for future sales success. In 2004, through the persistence of Rev. Jackson, the company paid tribute to McSween by creating the Cirilo A. McSween New York Life Rainbow/PUSH Excel Scholarship Award. McSween later became a pioneer McDonald’s owner when he opened a location downtown on State Street and the other at O’Hare Airport. He was also one of the founders of Independence Bank of Chicago where he later became a board member and vice chairman.
Although he was a lifelong Chicago resident, McSween never forgot his roots in Panama. He led a push in the 1970s to turn over U.S. Control of the Panama Canal and testified before the U.S. Senate. He was also a friend of Gen. Omar Torrijos, who ruled Panama from 1968 until his death from a plane crash in 1981. Gen. Torrijos entrusted McSween with his son, Martin, after his death. From there, McSween helped pay for Martin’s college education and looked after the well-being of his family. When Torrijos’ son Martin, followed his late father into politics, McSween dispatched his son, Cirilo Jr., to Panama to work in the field while he monitored programs from America. McSween made several trips back to Panama, where he attended a victory celebration in Martin Torrijos’ honor. “From Cirilo, I came to understand what Dr. Martin Luther King had done for the entire human race and the meaning of fairness,” Torrijos said. Young, who described McSween as a “saint,” said his spirit combined with King’s values and Rev. Jackson’s prophetic vision must go into Obama’s administration and be carried out into the world. “Cirilo lived and struggled, but he saw the beginning of a new order and it’s up to us to see that order is fulfilled in his name.”
On Thursday, McSween will be laid to rest in Panama. His survivors include his wife, Arlene; daughters: Veronica McSween; and Esperanza Powell; son: Cirilo Jr; grandsons: Victor Powell and Derek Jennings Jr.; and sister: Anna Phillips. His first wife, Gwendolyn, preceded him in death.
by Dwayne T. Ervin
Speakers from Real Men Cook, transportation, and small business loans spoke at Chatham Business Association (CBA) meeting last Tuesday.
Yvette Moyo, president and CEO of Resource Associates International, Ltd., (RAI), talked about social entrepreneurship, which is about for profit companies that make money. It pushes a product that is valuable to the community. Real Men Cook started as a community project. It expanded to ten cities all over the country. Real Men Cook is now going international by selling products in the Bahamas.
“We dispel the myth that there are no good Black men,” Moyo said. “Our goal is male involvement in the families.” There was a PowerPoint presentation given by Rael Jackson, brand strategist for Real Men Cook, about what Real Men Cook has accomplished and the impact it has had for men in the country.
At one of the Father’s Day Real Men Cook Events, Barack Obama stated, ”Real Men Cook has been a fun and delicious way to celebrate Father’s Day for sixteen years [now 20 years.] Although the home-cooked meals certainly keep my wife and me going back for more, this is more than a great food fest. It is a celebration of family and community that brings people from all over to break bread and share in each other’s company.”
Real Men Cook is a 20-year national annual family celebration on Father’s Day, with over 35,000 attendees who enjoy experiencing new flavors. The family tradition has spread throughout Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington, DC and Benton Harbor, MI.
Real Men Cook has distributed over $1 million to community non-profit organizations, including YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and 100 Black Men. ”We make sure that there are healthy images of men active in their children’s lives,” said Justin Wooley, director of Real Men Charities. “Men need to be active in their families and active in their communities.”
“We make sure there are healthy images of black fathers,” Wooley continued. “We screened 600 men for prostate cancer through health market campaigns. We screened 700 people for HIV and STDs.”
“It is very important for men to have their children eat healthy meals. Men need to step up and be involved with their children on a regular basis. Emil Jones mentored Barack Obama, which allowed him to become an Illinois Senator. It is important for men to mentor other men.
Saturday December 13 is their second annual fundraiser, a roast and toast to retiring Senate President Emil Jones at the Historic South Shore Cultural Center at 6pm. Their products are available at Jewel and on their website.
Other speakers touched on transportation and small business loans.Bryce Word, special projects manager for legislative and government affairs, announced that RTAwill hold the 12th Annual Transit Summit at Hilton Towers December 2, 2008. ”RTA is the financial overseer of transit funding for CTA, Pace, and Metra,” Word said. He gave a reminder about the free rides programs for seniors, disabled, and veterans. “We believe in building partnerships,” Word added.
The third speaker was Ray Graves, vice president of Somercor 504 Inc. He spoke about the Small Business Association 504 Loan Program. He mentioned the benefit of 90 percent financing under the SBA 504 Project that has a low down payment, low fixed rate, and helps support banks verses a conventional bank.
CBA-City Colleges Bus Tour Provides Insight on Economic Development Opportunities in 6th and 8th Wards
by Lesley R. Chinn
With business construction popping up on the south west corner of 87th and Cottage Grove in the 6th Ward to a construction of a new South Shore High School on 76th and Jeffery in the 8th Ward, Aldermen Freddrenna Lyle and Michelle Harris concluded that there is a need for more economic development opportunities in their respective wards.
Through a partnership between the Chatham Business Association (CBA) and City Colleges of Chicago, a bus tour was hosted throughout the two wards last Friday to get some insight into what areas need to be tapped into for economic growth and job opportunities.
This tour, which somewhat mimicked one that the CBA hosted in partnership with Congressman Bobby Rush of the First Congressional District about two years ago, stopped between areas from 71st Street to 95th Street from State Street to Jeffrey.
“We have quite a few businesses in the area…and we want to have that partnership where the businesses can work with our young people and develop the entrepreneurial skills and create a corridor so that it represents the businesses that are here,” said Melinda Kelly, CBA executive director.
Several properties——including a tall vacant building on the southeast corner of 78th and Cottage Grove; the former site of Kennedy-King College on 68th and Wentworth; and the former site of Stony Island Food Market on 83rd and Stony Island——were just some of the sites just to name a few that the tour highlighted that had possibilities for potential redevelopment.
While there is a plethora of nail shops, fast food establishments, liquor stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and dollar stores, which are predominately not Black-owned, some of the tour attendees expressed concerns for more variety of businesses that they would like to see in the community.
“Years ago, there were Black-owned family businesses up-and-down these arterial streets, but when the malls came in, they closed down, but recently we’ve seen a lot of young people coming back going into business and it’s a very positive thing,” said Ald. Lyle.
Ald. Lyle suggested to the CBA that it would benefit them greatly if they could obtain copies of city business licenses. From there, she then explained to them that letters should be sent to these owners about their concerns about how business should be done in the community and how certain actions impact the neighborhood and business districts.
“They need to know that it is not acceptable so that it just won’t be me and Ald. (Michelle Harris) fighting this battle,” said Lyle, while speaking of a new development that will take place on the southwest corner of 87th and Cottage Grove.
Some business leaders and CBA
members then asked what types of businesses will the community support. In response, Lyle said that businesses like Target and Nike are suitable choices, however, she later said that they could work hand-in-hand with smaller businesses without completing shutting them down.
But before anything has to be built and depending upon the size of the new construction, Lyle and Harris said that the community is landlocked and other properties have to be torn down in some cases just to get started. They said that it is costing some of these businesses not to come here.
As the tour continued to 95th Street, Harris updated CBA members and other business supporters about development opportunities that included a charter school on 95th and Cottage Grove operated by Trinity United Church of Christ. She said that while Trinity is currently using the facility that was a previous site for the House of Kicks amusement park, they are planning to build a charter school from the ground up to expand. However, she did not specify a location, but did reiterate that the Trinity needs a building for expansion.
Embedded near a primarily residential community near East 93rd Street near Kenwood, Harris gave an update on A. Finkle and Company which is currently in a rehab process. It is a steel company based in the Lincoln Park community that produced products for Chrysler Durango. Currently, they have 350 employees, but when they move into the community, an additional 150 jobs will be created, according to Harris.
City Colleges Chancellor Wayne Watson said he wants to start off with the Chatham area for the partnership before starting with other communities in Chicago for redevelopment and job opportunities.
“Our interest is to work with the Chatham Business Association to identify the needs of the business community of Chatham and its citizens. We want to be one of the stakeholders that will help the Chatham business community redefine itself to enhance its business opportunities.”
by Lesley R. Chinn
A change that people believed in and deserved is what they got when Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama secured his victory over his Republican opponent U.S. Senator John McCain.
The son of a Black Kenyan father and White Kansas mother; U.S. Senator and former state Senator from Illinois defeated McCain in a string of victories in key battleground states—-Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia. Exit polls showed that Obama received 338 electoral votes to McCain’s 141, which was more than the 270 needed to become the 44th President of the United States. The popular vote was close with 51.3 percent to 47.5 percent with 73 percent of all U.S. precincts counted as of our press time.
Obama and his vice-presidential running mate, U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, will take their oaths of office as president and vicepresident, respectively, on January 20, 2009. The President-elect will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in a recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.
But before he takes his oath of office, Obama took a moment to bask in his victory before masses of people on a mild autumn Tuesday evening at Grant Park where they long awaited his speech at around 11 p.m.
“Americans sent a message to the world that we’ve never been a collection of individuals or a collection of blue states or red states. We are and always will be a United States of America.”
Obama said that this victory belongs to the millions of people who gave up their time and money to support a cause they believed in. “I know you didn’t do this for me but you did because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead.”
While people are celebrating tonight, Obama said that there are challenges including the country’s worst but yet current financial crisis. He called for teamwork with the people to help him run the government smoothly. “In this country, we rise and fall as one nation and one people. Let’s resist the temptation of pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”
Throughout this election he saw many historic firsts that would be told for generations, but one story that came to Obama’s mind was a 106-year-old Black voter Ann Nixon Cooper who cast her vote in Atlanta, GA. He saluted her because she exemplified her sacrifice against the odds to help pursue the American Dream.
“She was there for a preacher in Atlanta (Dr. Martin Luther King) who said we can overcome. In this year’s election, she touched her finger to a string and cast her vote. She knows how America can change.”
Obama said that while America has come so far and seen so much, he said that there is more work that needs to be done. “Let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?”
Earlier in the evening, Obama said he received a call from McCain congratulating him on a well-fought out campaign. He commended McCain, who is a Vietnam War veteran, for making unimaginable sacrifices for his country and pledged to work to renew the nation’s promise in the months ahead. While ending his 10-year quest for the White House, McCain, who commended Obama on a well-fought campaign, said the people spoke and he urged his supporters to work the President-elect.
This victory comes the day after Obama announced that his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died on Sunday at age 86. Obama’s nickname for his grandmother was “Toot” a version of the Hawaiian word for grandmother, tutu. Many of his speeches described her working on a bomber assembly line during World War II. Last month, he took a break from the campaign to spend his final days with his grandmother.
The historic moment also comes 40 years after the assassination of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968; 45 years after King’s “I Have a Dream,” speech in 1963; and 43 years after the Voting Rights Act in 1965. At that time no one would have imagined the day that this nation would elect its first Black president.
William Garth, publisher of the Citizen Newspapers, watched the festivities from a downtown condo overlooking Grant Park where millions of people erupted with tears of joy when they heard about Obama’s victory.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this when I’ve traveled the world over and even when I was in Africa with Nelson Mandela, marching with Dr. King, or running as a delegate with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson in 1984 and 1988. This night is the most proudest night that I’ve ever witnessed or experienced in my lifetime.”
David Johnson, a political professor at South Suburban College, said Obama’s victory not only represents one for Black people, but just everyone worldwide. “People around the world are fed up with the unilateral policies of the United States and Barack Obama represents a change in that direction.”
Riverdale Mayor Zenovia Evans described Obama’s campaign as unique because of the use of lots of technology involving the Internet, which attracted new and younger voters at record numbers. “I think it would confirm to people that you can make a change. It would lift people’s spirits in the way the voting process works.”
In other election news, Cook County, Anita Alvarez, who pulled an upset victory in the Democratic primary, scored a landslide win over her Republican opponent Tony Peraica and Green Party candidate Thomas O’Brien to fill the seat of retiring Dick Devine. She becomes to become the first female Latino Cook County State’s Attorney. According to AP exit poll numbers, 89 precincts reported at our press time that Alvarez received 69 percent of the vote while Peraica only received 26 percent and Green Party candidate Thomas O’Brien received 5 percent.
As for the Illinois Constitution Convention, more than 68 percent voted no on the ballot question while 32 percent voted yes. This question is on the Illinois ballot every 20 years. The last time there was an Illinois Constitution Convention was in 1970.
Other election results included victories for Congressman Bobby Rush; Jesse L. Jackson Jr; and Danny Davis. In the General Assembly, Will Burns and Andre Thapedi will be the new kids on the block as state Representatives-elect of the 26th District and 32nd District, respectively, while Emil Jones III will take the state Senate in the 14th District, where his father, Emil Jones Jr. proudly served for numerous years.