In 1971, civil rights lawyer Anna Langford became the first Black woman to serve in Chicago’s City Council. An independent, she was elected to represent the 16th Ward, which at the time encompassed much of Englewood, roughly spanning from Stewart over to Ashland, and Garfield down to Marquette. Langford frequently clashed with Mayor Richard J. Daley and became known as a thorn in the side of the machine.
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Jerrold “Just Flo” Anderson is a motivational hip-hop artist and speed painter living in Englewood. He specializes in poetry, rap, singing, live artistry, comedy improv, illustration, murals, and tattoos. His goal is to “create harmony and cultivate healing within my family, community, and throughout the world.” He has performed with local, indie, and major artists, including Nas and Rick Ross.
When you are a poet and a bird hits the window at your grandma’s house you feel like you need to say something about it/you need to mean something about it/you need to know something about it. What I know is what I saw: the feather drifting down in a serene spiral after what I heard: the bang against the glass and the shriek from my sister’s mouth. My dad and grandma went over to the window and watched the life drift out of the struggling bird. After my dad and the caregiver returned from the backyard with a lifeless plastic bag, my grandma said, shouldn’t we say a prayer for it or something? I said we could say the mourner’s Kaddish but I don’t remember the words. She doesn’t remember a lot of things, but she remembers my name, lets it ring into the hall in surprise when we enter the house. There is no grand metaphor about the bird or my grandmother or life and death. What I know is just what I saw. It died and there was nothing we could do.
I got so used to a closet without a light
That now the landlord’s fixed it
I have forgotten it is there, still digging around for my underwear in the dark.
Every time I remember and pull the chain
it’s like god creating the world again,
and it is good.
You likened our relationship
to a math problem. You say
we are solving it. It’s been a long time
since calculus, since I folded numbers
into boats and eased them into a stream
and watched them come back. In Paris
there is a fountain where they do this,
send off their toy vessels, wobbly fish in a
tiny harbor. I want that afternoon back,
my father and I in the half-hot Europe sun
watching the young boys crowd around
and beckon their earless boats.
Everybody left with what they’d brought.
Daniel Borzutzky’s new poetry collection Lake Michigan slides from the familiar to the fictional in the space of one line, so quickly you might almost miss it. In the collection’s opening poem, “Lake Michigan, Scene 0,” the poet writes, “And the mayor said…we can no longer have empty schools we can no longer have / failing schools we can no longer have public schools we can no longer have public / bodies.”
In mid-March, the New York Times published a warm profile of Theaster Gates’s new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., describing his creations as “monumental structures that echo abstract canvases elsewhere in the institution, but are embedded with unsung stories of black laborers and entrepreneurs.” Part of the piece also detailed how Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims at neighborhood and community revitalization through arts-related projects, had acquired the dismantled pieces of the gazebo in Cleveland where twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by a police officer in November 2014. Rebuild would use the pieces, the article said, to create a memorial for Rice later this year at the Stony Island Arts Bank, the organization’s South Shore home and exhibition space.