It is no secret that 2010 and 2011 were two of the worst years the residents of the Chatham community have seen. What could go wrong did go wrong. The community lost Officer Thomas Wortham IV, Michael Bailey and Firefighter Corey Ankum. We saw the closing of two Chicago landmark restaurants, Izola's and Army & Lou's. Also, a wave of senseless crime and violence that included the attempted robbing of an 85 year old man who happened to be a retired police officer
Through all of that 2011 taiught the community some hard lessons but also . Standing back and waiting on the police and others to solve our community's problems will not work. So the community has slowly raised their voices and demanded change. The change started with the election of Roderick T. Sawyer as Alderman of the 6th ward. During the election another voice emerged, the voice of social media . Social media influenced the election and has influenced the outcome of several other issues. Those issues being;
- The removal of gaudy oversized signs at 71st,75th,87th,and 95th
- The removal of the 5th grade art project looking newstand at 71st and 83rd
- The discontinuance of the $.99 fried chicken special
- The closing down of the "flop" house at 95th Michigan
- The owners of EZ Pawn understanding Chatham residents are not EZ.
Although we had setbacks we also saw the emergence of the next generations of leaders. In a time when pundits are stating the African American community lacks leaders, we are seeing and electing the next generation. Starting with the following:
- Brian Sleet- Chief of Staff 6th ward
- Kari Steele- Candidate, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
- Jahmal Cole- Community Activist
- Richard Wooten-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
- Sondra Wortham- Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
- Elgie Sims-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
- Paul Gregoire-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
- Future- Conscience Rapper/Entertainer
We saw the opening of the Thomas Wortham IV Playlot and remodeling of the proposed Ben Wilson basketball courts at Cole Park and look forward to the remodeling of Brown Memorial Park. The reemergence of cooperation between commuity organizations, be it Park Manor Neighbirs, Greater Chatham Alliance, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, Chesterfield Community Council and others.
Lastly, while several restaurants who make up the Pan African cuisine experience have closed, we saw the much anticipated opening of Garrett Popcorn Shop on 87th. Marking a break from tradition for this company, this is their only stand alone location and one week after opening the line is still running out of the door. Also, there are plans to reopen the Chatham Pancake house.
In 2012 we will still have the challenges of dealing with crime, economic development and education. We will have to elect several new representatives and deal with the ward remap. Through all of this we will see a new stronger community, a community that has gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. A community that will put politicians on notice that you cannot overlook our community and expect to get the vote and the reemergence of a independent voice even when it isn't popular. So those "so called community leaders" from other areas of the southside who have taken our dollars for granted and in one case stated we are not welcome, take notice that you will miss these dollars going forward as Chatham rebuilds.
Thanks to all those who read this blog and comment whether you agree or disagree. The important thing is that we start the discussion and as we move forward we encourage others to join the conversation.
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Tags: 6th district, 6th ward, 71st street, 75th street, 79th street, 87th street, 95th street, army and lous, ben wilson, business, chatham, chatham pancake house, chathanm avalon park community council, chesterfield commuity coucil, chicago park district, chicago police department, chicago public schools, city of chicago, city services, cole park, economic development, election, ezpawn, garretts popcorn, greater chatham alliance, Izola's, park manor neighors, politics, restaurants, roderick sawyer, signs, social media, Thomas Wortham IV