In February 2018, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close Englewood’s remaining four neighborhood high schools. Three of them would be dissolved over the next three years, but Paul Robeson High School, which opened in 1977, would be demolished in the summer of 2018, and in its place, a new high school built. The New Englewood STEM High School will open its doors to Englewood freshmen this fall.
On April 16, 2019, Chicagoans gathered on the playground at Woods Academy on 62nd and Racine, an Englewood elementary school that closed in 2013. They had returned for “Ain’t You Heard – What Happens to a Dream Deferred,” a storytelling event presented in partnership with Residents Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), Borderless Studio, and Creative Grounds. After being welcomed by Anton Seals Jr. of Grow Greater Englewood and Asiaha Butler of RAGE, attendees participated in an evening of music, spoken word, visual art projection, and memory sharing.
When Robeson High School opened in 1977, it was actually too small for the student population at the time. Around 2,300 students enrolled, far more than CPS’s expectation of 1,500. Four decades later, CPS voted to close Robeson, citing severe under-enrollment.
In the years leading up to the closing of Robeson High School in June 2018, headlines spoke of dwindling student enrollment, violence within the community, and low student performance. Before the Chicago Board of Education decision in February 2018 to close Robeson High School, CPS hosted two meetings to gather community feedback. At the first of those meetings, a teacher at Lindblom High School spoke about the need for schools as sites of relationship-building that enable communities to solve problems together. “There are very few institutions in neighborhoods on the South Side that build these sorts of relationships between community members like neighborhood schools,” he said. “By eliminating all of the neighborhood schools in Englewood,” he continued, “you eliminate the institutions that forge these relationships.”
In episode two of SSW Radio, Lowell “RaceMan” Thompson, who was born in Bronzeville in 1947 and became one of the first residents of the Robert Taylor Homes, discusses his past as a rare black face in the advertising industry. Angel Davanport, hip-hop musician of the Skigh Mob and Rapper Chicks collectives, talks about her unorthodox musical background and the glass ceiling for women in hip-hop.
“We’re here to support LGBTQ people in the black community, and black people in the LGBTQ community.”
Victor Storino, who goes by “Vic,” was born in Calabria, the toe of Italy. Following his father and sister, he and his brother came to the United States in 1958 to find work on Chicago’s East Side. He moved in with his father, he says, and if he hadn’t, he “would have been deadbeat,” unable to make enough to support himself on the minimum wage. After a short stint at Wisconsin Steel, Vic joined Republic Steel in 1961, where he would work until the plant shut down in 2002. . In that time, he served three terms as president of Local 1033, a chapter of United Steelworkers of America, and learned English in night classes. Since then he’s been heavily involved with the South Chicago chapter of SOAR, the retirees’ branch of United Steelworkers. We speak after the chapter’s monthly meeting, in a back room at Memorial Hall, 117th Street and Avenue O. The hall, once the permanent home of Local 1033, is now a United Methodist Church; the lot across the street, once home to Republic Steel, is now an empty field. Continue reading