Barber Shop Show: what role do gangs play in a community?

These days, we hear the word "gang" and make automatic associations - drugs, guns, violence and problems.

But in the 1960s, a group of young men redefined, for a time, what it meant to be in a gang.  These young men from North Lawndale were part of a gang called the Conservative Vice Lords.

They weren’t into the street economy or violence. They were a chartered, community service organization.

An art exhibit about the Vice Lords is currently showing at the Art in These Times space located in the offices of the magazine In These Times and runs through Dec. 31.

On Friday's Barber Shop Show, our weekly radio show from Carter's Barber Shop in North Lawndale, we talked to former Vice Lords leader, Bennie Lee, and Lisa Junkin, the director of education at the Hull-House Museum, which helped put the exhibit together.

Lee is the co-founder of National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated. He talked to the Chicago Reporter's Lucio Villa about his struggle to find gainful employment after getting out of prison.

Friday's discussion was a fascinating look at the role of gangs in the past and today. If you missed it, you're in luck. We're taking this week off from the live show, but rebroadcasting this lively and thought-provoking episode for our audience.

Tune in on Friday at our regular time, noon to 1 p.m. on Vocalo 89.5 FM or stream it live at Can't tune in at that time? You can always catch our podcast, up on the site on Tuesdays following the show.


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