Jacob Blake hits close to home

Notes from the 09/02/20 issue

Jacob Blake hits close to home
After Kenosha police shot twenty-nine-year-old Jacob Blake in the back on August 23, we learned of his Illinois roots and of his late grandfather who had been a pastor in Evanston and had preached desegregation decades earlier. On Wednesday, August 26, Chicago residents held a vigil for Blake in Union Park that attracted more than a thousand people, including student activists who had been protesting the Board of Education for voting to renew their police contract. Civil rights figures like Fred Hampton Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson went to Kenosha individually to stand with the Blake family, and on August 29 there was a rally in Evanston at the grandfather’s old church, Ebenezer AME. When George Floyd was murdered by police, the Weekly wrote that as Chicagoans we stood in solidarity with all Black people and people of color in the Midwest—aware that the KKK was birthed in the Midwest and that some towns up here rank among the most racist in the country—and we remain in solidarity with the people of Kenosha, Minneapolis, Detroit, Louisville, and beyond.

Emmett Till
Sixty-five years after Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, and after years of erratic lobbying by family members and preservationists, the fate of the former Woodlawn home of Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, may finally be secured. This week, Preservation Chicago is slated to submit a proposal designating the brick two-flat at 6427 S. St. Lawrence a landmark to the Department of Planning & Development. The process is expected to take some time, but if approved, the building would join the Roberts Temple Church of God In Christ in Bronzeville—site of Till’s open casket funeral—as well as the homes of Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, and Ida B. Wells as sites critical to preserving Black history and culture on the city’s South Side.

NBA and WNBA players withhold their labor
When the Milwaukee Bucks made the historic decision not to play on August 26 in what is known as a wildcat strike, or a strike not approved by their union, it triggered all other NBA teams scheduled to play that day, including the LA Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, to cancel their games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The WNBA has been vocal about social justice since the beginning of their season, even forming a Social Justice Council, and also sat out their games and wore t-shirts that had seven painted red circles for the times Blake was shot, while others players took a knee. Michael Jordan, who serves on the NBA Labor Relations Board, and former President Barack Obama, joined virtual meetings with NBA players and the National Basketball Players Association, to listen to players and negotiate their demands for social justice and self-expression within the league and avoid what could have resulted in a long-term strike. The NBA announced that all team-owned arenas will serve as polling sites during the November presidential elections as play resumed Sunday.

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