This story was a finalist for the 2017 “Best in-depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper” Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club
The following is a reflection on the first anniversary of last year’s Black Friday protests over the police killing of Laquan McDonald. During the protest, marchers shut down the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue, costing stores between twenty-five and fifty percent of their Black Friday revenue according to a Tribune estimate. The author, Loren Taylor, was born and raised on the South Side. He spent over twenty years living and traveling in Europe as a singer-songwriter before returning to Chicago in 2010. He currently volunteers with community organizations, including the Community Peace Surge and the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign.
On the afternoon of October 24, around 150 student activists and allies halted traffic on Michigan Avenue at Adams Street in front of the Art Institute of Chicago during a protest that called for improved funding practices for public higher education. Erica Nanton, an organizer and Roosevelt University alumna, quipped, “Paintings do not come before people.”
For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the politics and priorities of Freedom Summer never stopped. King’s arrival in 1966 from the embattled South ignited the Chicago Freedom Movement, and the conditions in northern, urban, and de facto segregated Chicago changed King and his beliefs. It was in Chicago that King intensified his call for economic justice as a goal both beyond and including racial integration.
“Look at what we’ve got! We’ve got Chance, we’ve got Chance!”
Artists are able to encapsulate a lot of ideas in one construction. They get you to think about those ideas in a way that normal interactions in our society–watching television news or reading a newspaper article–may not.
Yet this Black neighborhood stands firm.
“This is my 15th, 20th year of doing this, but I’m still an optimist, still believe beyond belief that we can do it and the way I see it happening is that someone has to make the first step and that’s why it’s important for us to make this move.”
“The kids don’t believe in justice yet, so they call it restorative practice,” said Judge Murphy. “It’s opening a door for them where there really wasn’t one before.”
“I’ve heard [Ando] speak on at least one occasion; his tone was such that I got the sense that he would do anything to suggest that a police officer’s actions, no matter what they were…that they were founded.”