Ill. State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford’s (Dist. – 8th) is a sponsor of House Bill 64 (HB64) which has passed both of Illinois’ legislative houses. All it needs now is Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval and signature in order for it to become the state’s Privacy in the School Setting Act.
According to HB64’s official synopsis, the proposed act would make it unlawful for: A school to request or require a student or prospective student or his or her parent or guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to the student’s or prospective student’s account or profile on a social networking website or to demand access in any manner to a student’s or prospective student’s account or profile on a social networking website.
Rep. Ford told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper that colleges and universities throughout the state have used social networks to screen and select prospective students and to monitor the activities of current students in both official and unofficial capacities. The desire to screen and monitor rose to a new level in Illinois as colleges and universities began to mandate that prospective students release their social networking passwords as part of the application process.
With such practices steadily becoming the standard screening procedures for colleges, universities and employers, personal privacy is steadily being swept under the rug, despite the efforts of social media giants like Facebook and Twitter who go to great lengths to protect the confidentiality of their users. (According to a recent USA Today report, Facebook has over 517 million users which make up nearly seven percent of the world’s population.)
“As technology becomes more and more a part of our day-to-day lives, we have to look at how we can ensure greater privacy online. We must carefully consider our actions now and set precedent for Internet regulations in the future. I thank my colleagues in both the House and the Senate for their support in protecting students’ rights,” said Rep. Ford.
If signed into law the Privacy in the School Setting Act would protect schools as well as the students.
“[House Bill 64] actually protects the admission department of the institution from lawsuits; there have been cases where schools have been sued for violating a person’s right to privacy,” Rep. Ford said.
John Martinez, an admissions counselor at Chicago State University told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper, “We don’t review [social networks] as far as our admissions are concerned. We look at high school and college transcripts and the ACT or SAT scores; we go by [students’] academics.”
Last year, Rep. Ford and Ill. Rep. Monique D. Davis (Dist.-27th) sponsored a similar bill which prevented employers from making mandatory requests for social network passwords of their employee’s and prospective employee’s. Rep. Davis is also a HB64 sponsor.
“We need to educate young people just when they’re beginning to use the internet that always anything that you put on there lives forever. We want the colleges to let the students know that they are not going to get into their information but educate them as to what could happen eventually if this material they have on these social media does become public,” Rep. Davis told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “We need to protect young people because their futures are already in so much jeopardy.”
By Lee Edwards
Thornton Fractional South High School (T.F. South) student Jhaliyah Anderson, has been blind since she was 3-years-old when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer but, that hasn’t stopped her from living a cheerful, full life. The sophomore actively competes on T.F. South’s track team as a sprinter, and sings in the school choir. In other words, Anderson is no different from any other teenager.
“She does all the normal teenage stuff, she likes to go shopping, go to the mall, [and go to] parties, she’s a social butterfly,” Jhaliyah’s mother, Sonya Anderson, told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “With everything that you hear going on at these high schools it puts your mind at ease to know that she has friends and no one is bothering her and she can get around like everybody else.”
Anderson, who is the youngest of three children originally competed at Illinois’ School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville, IL until she decided she wanted to take on the challenge of competing at a public school.
“It was impromptu,” Anderson said. “I wanted to go out for something. I ran at the Illinois School of the Visually Impaired (in Jacksonville), where I went from fifth through eighth grades. I wanted to see if I could run in a public school.”
Anderson now competes in the 100-meter dash and the long jump for T.F. South’s junior varsity team.
“A lot of the [opposing] coaches have been very supportive, just astonished that she’s even out there, [they’re] really impressed. I’ve never had any negative experience [with Anderson],” Steve Nelson, T.F. South’s girl’s track team head coach, told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper.
Nelson believes that Anderson can potentially become a solid 200-meter sprinter and a long jumper.
Richard Tarbunas, T.F. South’s assistant girl’s track coach, has been training Anderson on the long jump.
“This year was a good year to get the basics down as far as how she would be able to go about jumping because she has never actually run down a runway and jumped before, this is the first time she’s done an approach then a jump,” said Tarbunas.
To ensure that Anderson is running straight down the long jump runway, Tarbunas claps his hands to ensure that she is running straight and taking off on the long jump board on her right foot to ensure she has the best jump.
While running the 100-meter dash Anderson holds the hand of her teammate Jasmine Scott.
“We sometimes break (apart), but not too often,” Scott said. “We have really worked at it and Jhaliyah is pretty fast, so I have to keep up with her.”
Anderson runs with a partner to ensure that she stays in her lane during races. Anderson’s partner runs on the inside of Anderson, serving as a buffer between her and the rest of the field but eventually, Anderson will run with a tether to the lead runner for guidance.
“An outstanding student” is how how Exceptional Children Have Opportunities (ECHO) T.F. South instructor, Jessica Duer, describes Anderson. Duer helps Anderson with mobility and brail lessons and said that Anderson is an excellent student who attends all of the mainstream classes all the other students attend.
“Academically she is exceeding typical standards, I believe her GPA right now is a 3.7. She will only grow as her high school career continues,” Duer said.
Anderson came in second place in her last 100-meter dash competition.
By Lee Edwards
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) riders who’ve been dreading the May 19 Red Line South Reconstruction project, must now learn the ends and outs of getting to work and to other destinations amidst re-routes and shuttle buses, from now until the projected Oct. 2013 completion date.
During the $425 million renovation project that completely rebuilds the tracks and improve stations on the 10-mile stretch of the Red Line South from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, Red Line service will be re-routed south of Roosevelt Road onto the elevated Green Line tracks to Ashland/63rd Street.
Travel routes and other information can be found on CTA’s website at www.transitchicago.com.
“These informational materials are part of our continuing efforts to make sure CTA customers are well-prepared for the start of the Red Line South reconstruction project,” said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson. “We want to make sure CTA passengers have the tools they need for a smooth commute.”
The project might inconvenience a multitude of CTA riders, but CTA officials feels the finished product is worth the inconvenience and will benefit Red Line riders for decades to come—through faster travel times, increased reliability, spruced-up stations and a variety of other improvements.
“Recognizing that this project will affect thousands of customers each day, CTA has worked to provide multiple, convenient options for people to get around during the construction,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We want our customers to be well-informed about the myriad travel options we’re offering, so that they can get where they need to go.”
An online trip planner is also available at www.redlinesouth.com.
Using Google Maps to provide information on multiple transit-route options, including travel-time estimates, riders can use an internet-connected device to enter a starting point and destination, choose weekday or weekend travel, and indicate a time of travel.
The CTA is also distributing fliers, targeted to various communities in the project area, with travel options and information on alternative bus and rail service.
Additionally, CTA will deploy “Red Line South Ambassadors” to south Red Line stations to answer customer questions and provide project and travel information.
Ambassadors will wear bright red shirts, and be stationed at the nine affected Red Line stations during afternoon rush hours.
Alternative CTA travel options and discounts include:
• FREE shuttle buses from Red Line stations south of 63rd Street to connect customers with the Garfield Green Line rail station
• FREE entry at Garfield Green Line station for bus shuttle passengers
• Red Line train service running on Green Line tracks from Roosevelt to Ashland/63rd
• Expanded bus service on numerous nearby bus routes
• 50-cent discount on bus rides south of 63rd Street
Built in 1969, the South Red Line tracks are well beyond their expected lifespan, according to information provided by CTA. Despite ongoing repairs and maintenance, between 30-40 percent of the branch includes slow zones in which trains must travel well below the designed speed limit. In some cases, trains that would normally travel up to 55 mph are instead running at 15 mph.
Part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago infrastructure renewal program, funding for the work is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local financial resources announced in late 2011 by Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Emanuel for the Red and Purple lines. The Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! Capital program is providing more than $700 million of the total investment.
By Deborah Bayliss
Chicago Native son, Brian Sibley, 24, also known as “Kells,’’ is not your typical male model. The former King College Prep High School student stands out because he says, he’s not in the business just for fame and fortune, but because the opportunities he’s afforded as a model, might allow him to positively impact Chicagoland youth.
Sibley was saddened he said, to hear about the death of Hadiya Pendleton and other children who lost their lives to gun violence.
“I could easily continue to live my life in California and act as if Chicago (and the state of it) didn’t exist but I won’t do that,” Sibley said adding that he’d specifically like to work with Little Black Pearl Workshop and Cease Fire and the organization’s Executive Director, Tio Hardiman.
Sibley realized early on, his keen sense for fashion, but couldn’t afford to keep up with the trends. However, a girlfriend at his church that encouraged him to pursue modeling.
“She was already a model and asked me to consider it,” Sibley said. “All I knew about was Tyson Beckford; he was the most famous African American male at that time.”
Sibley found his way to his current home in Los Angeles by way of Detroit.
“I had a cousin who told me that Detroit was the fashion capital of the U.S.,” Sibley said. “I talked to my mom (Karen Wilson). We had family there so we moved there at the end of my freshman year in 2008 but my mother hated it.”
A family friend recognized Sibley was a good kid and he took him to Silver Fox Furs in Detroit.
“I met the owner and he said if you want to model we have a commercial shoot coming up. I showed up for the commercial and still photography shoot,” Sibley said.
Fast forward three or four months, the photo-shoot no longer on his mind, Sibley while playing basketball one day received a frantic telephone call from his mother. She was hysterically telling him about photographs she saw of him in a well-known Detroit magazine.
“My mom was at the beauty shop flipping through a magazine and she didn’t know about the still shots and came across them,” Sibley said. “I see my phone and it was ten missed calls from her. She was yelling in the beauty shop. I told her this is the start of it. When I got back to school, the girls were reacting to seeing me in the “Native Detroiter” magazine.”
Sibley eventually moved to California to join the Navy and continue his pursuit of a modeling career. Recently he competed and won the first-ever, Face of Men’s Fashion Week, LA. As such, he’ll serve as the official brand ambassador for the event in Oct. His duties will include hosting a red carpet event, networking, increasing brand awareness in the menswear community, media interviews and press meetings.
“After competing, I found out May 6 that I won,” Sibley said. “I am enjoying the status. We haven’t done any press as yet. I’m going to judge a men’s wear designer competition June 15 in Hollywood, California. I’m looking forward to everything this ambassadorship entails. On Jan. 1, 2014, I will have my first major modeling contract with Slater Model Management.
Sibley’s mother, referred to her son leaving Chicago and making a name for himself, as “escaping.”
“I wouldn’t call it escaping,” Sibley explained. “I was used to my environment. I will just say I was blessed to see that there was more outside of Chicago. I was going through a lot when I was 17. My mom worked in Milwaukee, Wis. and I was in Chicago and had that big house to myself. I turned to a life of things that I never want to turn back to.”
Sibley said the people with guns don’t know what they’re doing when they destroy lives.
“That’s why I’m in this, so that I can uplift Chicago,” he said. “I want to team up with Mr. Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), to do outreach. I think he has the influence power and motivation that people want to see. But he’s quiet and soft spoken.”
Sibley said he’s not looking to make a bunch of money and just spend it.
“I want to build full gymnasium for John Smith School, Elementary School in Hyde Park. If it wasn’t for basketball, I wouldn’t have gotten through it. If you don’t learn to buckle down you won’t succeed.”
By Deborah Bayliss
The Shaw family members are in the battle of their lives. While trying to restore electricity and cooking gas services that were recently shut-off in their rental unit, the family is also facing eviction from their apartment at 6936 S. Green St. in the heart of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
The Shaws are a close-knit family of seven including five children, the youngest being 14-months-old. The children’s’ mother Shantisha, is recovering from a stroke that left her partially paralyzed in June 2012.
“I felt scared and anxious when a legal agent from Pierce & Associates[law firm] and came told me that we have to leave [immediately],” Ezekiel Shaw, Shantisha’s husband and father of the five children told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper.
Pierce & Associates handles nearly one third of all foreclosure cases in Chicago and did not respond to the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s phone calls before press time. Pierce & Associates handles pre and post foreclosure cases with renters including eviction procedures.
The non-profit organization, Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), a Keep Chicago Renting Coalition organization, works to help tenants who are going through problems like the Shaws.
“Unfortunately, this is a common predicament that tenants face where they’re not alerted to the foreclosure and after the banks takes possession they will employ tactics to rid the property of occupants as quickly as possible,” said Patricia Fran of LCBH.
She added that the intimidating notice and not paying for the utilities was part of law firm’s “constructive eviction” which hopefully causes the renters to leave on their own.
According to the Shaw family, they never received an official eviction notice from Pierce & Associates nor did they receive a notice about their building going into foreclosure. In addition, the Shaws claim that once the bank took over the property, they were never instructed as to where to send their rental payments to or about who would handle any necessary repairs within their unit. In fact, the last contact the Shaws said they had with Pierce & Associates or the foreclosure bank was in January 2013 when they were offered a “Cash for Keys” arrangement but received the wrong paperwork and were told that they would eventually receive the correct documents.
“Cash for Keys” is a deal that allows tenants to vacate the premises of a property in foreclosure quickly to save money on court costs associated with an eviction. The Shaws never received the “Cash for Keys” paperwork nor did they ever hear from the foreclosure bank or Pierce & Associates. That is until a few weeks ago when representatives from Pierce & Associates requested that the family move immediately and then had their utilities turned off.
The Shaws are the last remaining tenant of the building; the other two tenants have already moved out.
Fortunately the Shaws, have the Keep Chicago Renting Coalition in their corner to help them battle Pierce & Associates who they believe is unlawfully attempting to force them to move by using intimidation tactics and making their living conditions unbearable. Action Now, a multi-issue grassroots organization that is part of the Keep Chicago Renting Coalition, has taken the lead on the Shaws case. Ezekiel Shaw is a member of Action Now.
The Keep Chicago Renting Coalition comprises of thirteen labor, community, and policy organizations who are standing with the Shaws to ensure that they are protected by the law and are properly situated in the event that the family has to relocate.
A proposed Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance has already received support from Mayor Emmanuel and will be voted upon in early June. The ordinance would require that foreclosed properties be registered with the city and tenants of the foreclosed property be notified; leases of the tenants would be maintained with a maximum of two percent increase; and $12,000 would be allotted to tenants forced to move before the property is resold.
By Lee Edwards
Charles Hopf, 19, of East Chicago, Indiana sat quietly with his fellow inmates in the midst of “media-chaos” last Wednesday as anxious reporters and cameramen vied for the best vantage point inside a small room at Cook County Jail’s Division 11, the site of the first-ever chess match between American and Russian detainees.
“I won my practice match,” Hopf said as he waited for the tournament to begin.
It wasn’t clear whether President Barack Obama and Russian President, Vladimir Putin were aware of the “international event.” Nevertheless, the chess game–played between 10 Americans and 10 Russians went off without a hitch.
The American team qualified for the competition by winning internal Cook County Jail tournaments.
The two teams squared off via a secure Internet line at the jail. And after about an hour of skilled focus and concentration, it was the Russians who claimed victory, with a final score of 14 ½ to 5 ½.
The tournament was described as a collaborative effort between Sheriff Dart, Dr. Mikhail Korenman, head of the Cook County Jail chess program, and Anatoly Karpov, a legendary Russian chess grandmaster and former world champion.
A 9 a.m. press conference with local media, Sheriff Dart, Dr. Korenman, and Russian officials via Skype, preceded the actual transnational match that began at 9:30 a.m. where
Dart stated he believes chess has changed the lives of some of the players because it requires them to think ahead.
“The participants are excited and this is the most rewarding program we’ve ever had,” Dart said. “This is something positive for the detainees to do and it’s an incredible art form; studies show it has a positive impact on people’s lives.
The idea of the competition is to have the young male detainees at Cook County Jail, of which the majority of who are African American, engage in positive endeavors.
For some people, it’s been a reactionary type of life,” Dart said. “When they’re active, they’re less likely to be involved in negative things. It’s also a skill they can take with them.”
Dart also addressed the Russian team on their victory.
“Today’s successful competition is a tribute to Dr. Korenman for his vision, our correctional officers for their steadfast support of the program and of course to the competitors on both sides for their sportsmanship today and their commitment to utilizing the lessons of chess as a valuable rehabilitation tool,” Dart said after the match.
The program will continue but a rematch date with the Russians has not yet been set.
Using standard chess boards and pieces, Sheriff Dart launched the jail’s chess program in April 2012, as a way to instill detainees with patience, diligence and critical thought.
In December 2012, the program expanded, allowing detainees to participate in online chess tournaments using secure laptops that allowed them to play against anonymous players from around the world, including players in Singapore, Croatia and Canada.
Dr. Korenman meets with participating detainees two hours a day, three days a week for group lessons and to coordinate matches.
To date, approximately 600 Cook County Jail detainees have participated in the jail’s chess program.
The young men at the Cook County Jail have plenty of reasons to hold their heads high, one being, Darwin Brown, 35 who Kirov referred to as the most “distinguished,” competitor of both sides, having won both of his games – including one in just three moves.
While some of the participants in the Cook County Jail chess program had previous experience with chess, most of them began recently as novices – including several who participated in the Russian match.
Dr. Korenman, an International Chess Organizer certified by the World Chess Federation FIDE, is a principal of the Russian School of Mathematics in Naperville. His extensive background in chess includes founding the Karpov School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kanas, which was the first chess school Dr. Korenman also initiated the Chess for Peace program which is designed to promote peace throughout the world by bringing secondary students from different countries together to learn how to play chess and establish lasting friendships.
By Deborah Bayliss
Situated on the busy stretch of east 79th Street, just across from the old Regal Theater, a grey two-flat houses the newly opened 79th Street Indoor Mall, a black-owned joint venture that provides African American entrepreneurs with a place to launch and area residents a place to receive community services.
Kamala Hodges-Ronan, managing broker of Accomplished Realty Group, and Community Activist Harold Davis, president of Amer-I-Can Enterprise II, an organization that offers services and support to youth and the community, partnered to create the Indoor Mall concept that provides training, new and used clothing, accessories, toiletries, reading materials and free Wi-Fi.
”Harold and I met a couple of years ago when I was a guest on his radio show, “The Booty Butt Naked Truth” radio talk show. I was a guest on the show to talk about my nonprofit organization, Mission Accomplished Corp., NFP,” said Ronan told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper.
The Mall right now is a pending 501c3 nonprofit organization and accepts donations and perhaps will apply for grant funding in the future.
“Technically, we’re a nonprofit and Harold and I are doing business as the 79th Street Indoor Mall which is separate from the other businesses we each own,” Ronan clarified.
With 6,000 square feet of space occupying two floors, the Indoor Mall at 1708 W. 79th St., also houses flea market booth space as well as office/booth space for anyone looking to launch a new business or other ventures.
The community is encouraged to use the Indoor Mall’s free WIFI, participate in the upcoming on-site exercise classes, pay utility (gas and electric) and prepaid telephone bills, and most importantly, shop.
The shopping center also keeps a supply of books on hand, that are available for on-site reading.
“We also have free books for children, we’re going to get the computers up so children can do their homework, Ronan said. “We have free clothing that people can just take if they’re in need. We have free reading classes facilitated by a retired school principal and a former GED teacher. Whatever resources people in the community need, we’re here to serve them. As a nonprofit, our proceeds fund the vast services and resources offered at the Indoor Mall. Resume writing is also offered.
The Mall currently operates with two employees and 4-7 volunteers that do a range of work, from clean-up to greeting shoppers and providing instruction for adult education classes. Ronan, arrives at the store each day for three hours and is there the entire day on weekends.
Davis has been meeting with African American entrepreneurs for several months and discovered that many of them often face challenges in terms of being able to afford rental space.
“Those people who had businesses, had to virtually shut them down,” Davis explained. “With the indoor mall concept they could come in get a booth and get visibility (for themselves and their t product) in a flea market concept. On the weekend we’ve had three or four people at booths. We put about 20 booths around the store and it gives them the opportunity to sell products and put their business back out there. With a small minimum expense, they’re able to grow their business”
Davis said though Chicago has the largest number of African American businesses in the country, the average revenue for those businesses is only $60,000 year.
“That says a lot but at the same time it says nothing. You have businesses right here on this strip that don’t look like us and are making $60,000 a month selling alcohol, hair and doing whatever they want to do,” Davis said. “So for us to have more businesses than anybody else in America, says we have the numbers but the numbers don’t mean anything if it’s not lucrative enough where you can make a profit and stay.”
The Indoor Mall accepts donated items, clothing, books, etc.
Business hours: are 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri.; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat; and 9 a.m. to 1p.m., Sun.
For more information, please visit the website at www.indoormall.org or call (773) 704-4768.
By Deborah Bayliss
Thanks to a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are in the beginning stages of creating a “mobile history museum in an effort to deliver art exhibits and other information to Chicagoans who are less likely to visit local cultural institutions and museums.
“History Moves is a space for enacting a project of collecting and displaying Chicago’s history,” says Jennifer Brier, UIC associate professor of gender and women’s studies and history, the project’s lead investigator. “It allows for a direct relationship between interdisciplinary scholars at UIC, community co-curators and the neighborhoods they inhabit.”
The grant will be used towards the design and development stage of the mobile gallery.
Community involvement will play a big role at every stage of the gallery’s development, Brier said. “While there are numerous mobile museums in the United States, none of them make non-professionals central to the work of making public history,” she said.
Prior to the project’s public launch, which is a few years away, a team of historians, architects, graphic designers, and museum professionals from UIC will develop a full-scale model display system and floor plan for testing by focus groups.
The final product of this first phase will be construction documents for the design of one prototype gallery.
The gallery, which aims to increase the visibility of community-based organizations, will feature a flexible interior design.
Early concepts of the layout allow for “changing spatial configurations that are vibrant and physically engaging,” according to Julie Flohr, clinical assistant professor of architecture and lead architect for the project.
“Artifacts, graphics and digital technologies are carefully woven together in order to best present each curatorial project,” Flohr said.
Developers’ long-term plan is to present exhibitions for a seven-month period in various communities.
During that time, the mobile museum will reside in accessible public spaces such as library, school or park district parking lots.
Public programming associated with the exhibit will take place outside the mobile museum or in nearby publicly accessible space.
Sharon Haar, professor of architecture, who consulted on the initial design and urban strategy of the project, said the community co-curated exhibitions will travel throughout the city, drawing in new audiences and “crossing the social, cultural, racial and economic barriers that are reinforced by brick-and-mortar institutions.”
UIC was among 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a 2013 NEA Art Works grant, which were awarded in support of projects in 13 artistic disciplines.
The NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government and has awarded over $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, according to its website.
Community partners for History Moves include the Immigrant Youth Justice League, South Side Community Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Freedom School and Read/Write Library.
Additional UIC partners are the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, which also provided seed funding.
Professors will seek additional funding to implement the final phase of the project.
By Deborah Bayliss
Dorothy D. Armstrong has officially become the Village of Dixmoor’s first elected female African American president.
Armstrong, who had served as a village Board Trustee for the past six years, defeated the incumbent President, Keevan A. Grimmett, in Illinois’ special election on April 9, by a small but decisive margin of six percent, and was sworn in last Wednesday at the Dixmoor Village Hall, located 170 W. 145th St. in Dixmoor.
“I continued to run for mayor because I felt that there was a [need] for change in leadership for the village of Dixmoor, so I kept running until the people here have gotten ready to make that change, I just kept doing it, I did not give up, I was consistent,” Armstrong told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper.
Dixmoor’s Village Hall was filled to capacity with citizens and well-wishers who came to witness and celebrate Armstrong’s swearing in as well as the swearing in of other elected officials there.
Armstrong is prepared to take on her new responsibilities stating, “I have knowledge of our finances [from being a trustee]; I also have knowledge of the projects we need to develop and bring to the village.”
The new village president has also recognized Dixmoor’s population is becoming more diverse and is therefore looking forward to developing programs and special events that benefit the village’s entire population.
Transparency and accountability is what Armstrong feels will distinguish her from her predecessor and she has already launched two initiatives which incorporate these values including an open-door policy for Dixmoor residents which allows them to discuss village issues directly with her and the dissemination of important village information through newsletters and other materials.
Dixmoor’s website will also now include village meeting minutes, direct messages from the Executive Board and upcoming events, which will help spread the information more quickly and easily to all residents.
Armstrong’s first day in office was May 9 and at the top of her to do-list was: focus on the village’s finances and study the requests of residents to demolish buildings that have become an “eye-sore” in the community.
Armstrong has already met with her board of trustees and she feels confident that they will support her plans for Dixmoor as well as the appointments to her cabinet offices. She also says that she has spoken with Illinois legislators with the goal of fostering strong partnerships with them.
In addition to close friends and family, Armstrong credits her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., of which she is a member, as key components to her success, siting both organizations produced fund raising events for her campaign.
Former Village of Dixmoor President, Keevan A. Grimmett, told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper, “The bottom line is we needed a new injection going forward. This gives us an opportunity to have some hope [going] forward.”
After learning that she had won the village presidency after several unsuccessful attempts, Armstrong stated that there were a lot of tears of joy. Her long journey had come to an end. Now, a new journey begins, that will blaze a trail not only for herself, but for all of Dixmoor.
By Lee Edwards
Kenneth Hamilton, 23, walked across UIC Pavilion’s (525 S. Racine Ave.) stage May 3, graduating from Kennedy King College (KKC) and fulfilling the first “leg” of his journey to become a lawyer. He credits a black male support group implemented at KKC, with helping him accomplish this part of his goal.
To help bridge, social, family and other gaps, black males who attend KKC at 6301 S Halsted St., can take part in the school’s King’s Men Initiative, a support group implemented last October after a study conducted by the school showed disparities between black male and female enrollment and success rates.
“I graduated from Hyde Park High School on Stony Island and grew up in the Woodlawn community in a single-parent household,” Hamilton told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “My mother raised all six of her kids. My father was in my life but he wasn’t in our household.”
Hamilton then discussed the mentors he worked with while in the program and how they positively influenced his success.
“As part of the King’s Men, I had two mentors James Floyd, vice president, (general manager) for McDonalds Corporation’s (Central Division) and Don Thompson, president and CEO of McDonalds Corporation and other men in my life who supported and encouraged me to do better and stay focused on what I’m trying to accomplish in life.”
Hamilton admitted that it’s sometimes difficult to focus with all the violence in Chicago.
“As an African American male you think about your life and we are stereotyped with different things going on in the community but I think I’m blessed to be who I am.”
Hamilton also said he’s not shy about sharing what’s troubling him.
“I talk about my issues or any issues going on in the community because, I’m a community activist and I plan to one day become a politician,” he said.
With focuses primarily on Black males of any age, King’s Men aim is to bring black male students together for mentorship, fellowship, scholarship, and career focus.
Students who take part in the group are also given instruction on how to express themselves, effectively communicate and address whatever issues they’re facing.
“We have a “diversity circle” where we address the various subcultures within the African American community,” said Brandon Nichols, director of Academic Support Services, Kennedy King College. “We may have someone in the group who had an alcoholic parent, who may have witnessed murder or sold drugs. Addressing all those things play a role in how successful we will be when we see all this negativity in our life.”
“As part of the workshop, we visited McDonald’s Corporation and learned about basic business strategies and we also had an Ivy League college tour,” Nichols continued. “This is the first time we’ve facilitated something like this for the City Colleges which was primarily focused towards our black male students who were looking to transfer to a four-year institution. It was meant for exposure to show them opportunities outside of Chicago.”
As for the business and career components, among other things, workshops focus on entrepreneurship and networking.
The group has between, 14 to 18 black male student members and Nichols wants to increase enrollment.
“Out of those members, we have five graduates, including one that was Salutatorian of Kennedy King College, having the second highest GPA at Kennedy King College,” Nichols said. “Kenneth was one of the five. This shows that we have five students who are graduates based on this initiative. All of those graduates are matriculating to four-year institutions once they leave here.”
A KKC self-study conducted in 2010 showed Black male students enrolled and matriculated through Kennedy-King College at significantly lower rates than Black female students.
In the fall season of 2010, only 34% of the College’s African-American students were male.
Nearly 4,000 students earned associate’s degrees at City Colleges in 2013, the highest in more than two decades.
“Black women, double the number of men who attend Kennedy King. And this not something that’s necessarily a Kennedy King issue, it’s a school issue,” said Nichols. “We have black men in our society. If they’re not in school, then where are they?
Of the black males who are there, out of that 34 percent, unfortunately, half of those students drop out and never reach degree attainment,” said Nichols.
Having taken advantage of the support group, Hamilton is graduating with an associate’s degree, and will attend Purdue University, Calumet in Hammond, Indiana where he will study political science.
“I’ve wanted to be an attorney since I was ten years old,” Hamilton said. “My father used to ask me what we wanted to be when we grew up and he would tell us that we have to know what we want to be,” Hamilton said. “I always said I wanted to be an attorney and I’ve never changed that.”
By Deborah Bayliss