by Lesley R. Chinn
The fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert brought back memories for a parent who lost her 18-year-old son to gun violence three years ago.
Albert, an honor student at Fenger High School, was buried last Saturday after he was beaten to death recently. Attending Albert’s funeral at the Greater Hebron M.B. Church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood was not easy for Pamela Montgomery-Bosley, who lost her son, Terrell, who was killed April 4, 2006 at a Far South side church.
“This was my first time going to [a funeral] service since my baby’s death. It was so devastating to see another child laying in the casket,” Montgomery-Bosley said during an interview with the Citizen. Terrell had aspirations of becoming a famous gospel bass guitar player and traveling worldwide. “I protected him and did all I [could] do, but he is still not here. I get tired of people saying, ‘It was time for Terrell to go’…It wasn’t Terrell’s time to go,” she said.
Montgomery-Bosley is seeking justice for her son by issuing notices about a $5,000 reward for anyone with crime tips. “These murderers are still out here on the streets and I want them to be locked up. Just like they devastated my life, they can devastate another individual’s life.” Montgomery-Bosley, who said she felt like “somebody stabbed her in her heart,” said her 16-year-old son suffers from depression while her 11-year-old son prays every night that no one gets shot.
She said her involvement with two organizations such as Purpose Over Pain and Parents of Murdered Children keeps her going. Purpose Over Pain is a parent advocacy group which works for stricter gun control legislation while Parents of Murdered Children is a support group for parents who have lost their children to gun violence. Another Purpose Over Pain member, Willie Williams Jr. lost his son, Willie III, who was killed that same year at a movie theatre near Ford City shopping mall. Willie III’s murderers have not been brought to justice either. However, Willie Jr. copes with his pain through his organization called the Willie Williams III Youth Foundation, founded in his son’s memory. “Anytime you hear about people losing kids over violence, memories of your own child’s death comes to light. When the cameras are gone, the parents are seriously suffering. It’s a lot of families who lost their children and can’t get over it.”
Montgomery-Bosley and Williams agreed that the violence has gotten out-of-control since their children’s deaths and said if the Supreme Court plans to strike down Chicago’s 27- year-old ban on handguns, it would make matters worse.
Parents should, Montgomery-Bosley added, take responsibility for their children and quit making excuses about their bad behavior. “Our ancestors raised nine or 10 kids and they did good. The fathers may not be in the child’s life, but it’s your job to be the mother and the father,” she said.
Atty. General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to arrive this week in Chicago to address the violence, but Montgomery-Bosley said it wouldtake a “block-by-block strategy” to fix the problem while Williams challenged the officials to walk in the neighborhoods to get a better understanding of “what’s happening” to the youth.
Emerald Dukes, 13, and her brother, Morgan, 16, said Albert’s death was too much for them to bear. “It just reminded me of the young people I know that’s just dying, so I understand their pain,” Emerald said. “That could have been me laying in that casket right now. [The gun violence] is just ridiculous…and no one seems to care,” Morgan added.
Psychiatrist Promotes Block-by-Block Approach
by Lesley R. Chinn
According to the American Psychological Association, about 71 percent of youth say they are interested in learning about the warning signs of violence. One in twelve highschool students is threatened or injured with a weapon each year. With all of the statistics, models for intervention, medications and diagnoses, getting back to basics is a start. “If we want to solve this problem, we need to rebuild our villages by starting block clubs and going to these schools to start strong parentteacher associations…,” said Dr. Carl Bell, president/CEO of the Community Mental Health Council.
Although people don’t necessarily develop long-term psychiatric disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic event, it can still traumatize the person as well as families and communities. However, for victims, constantly stressing over a traumatic event, increases a person’s chances of developing a serious disorder by as much as 30 percent said Bell. Bell added people need to start building blockby-block in order to protect the youth from violence since the whole community is affected. “You don’t put the burden on the child to fix the problem. It’s the community, family, and school’s responsibility, not the child’s responsibility. We’re supposed to be protecting the children,” he said.
On December 17, a group of parents who have lost children to gun violence, will be joined by youth city-wide along with a number of prominent leaders including Rev. Father Michael Pfleger; Mayor Richard M. Daley; Min. Louis Farrakhan and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. At that time, the community will come together to hold an anti-violence rally downtown at the State of Illinois Building, 100 W. Randolph at Noon. Organizers, calling for an end to violence, plan to urge legislators to pass common sense gun laws and equal school funding reform measures.
Community involvement is a cure for the issue, said Bell. “When children are given a sense of safety, all of those horrible things that happen don’t stick,” he added. For more information about how to participate and to begin organizing your block against violence, call Saint Sabina Church at (773) 483-4300.
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.
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.”