2012-The Rise of Chatham

2012-The Rise of Chatham

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;

  1. The removal of gaudy oversized signs at 71st,75th,87th,and 95th
  2. The removal of the 5th grade art project looking newstand at 71st and 83rd
  3. The discontinuance of the $.99 fried chicken special
  4. The closing down of the “flop” house at 95th Michigan
  5. 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:

  1. Brian Sleet- Chief of Staff 6th ward
  2. Kari Steele- Candidate, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
  3. Jahmal Cole- Community Activist
  4. Richard Wooten-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
  5. Sondra Wortham-  Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
  6. Elgie Sims-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
  7. Paul Gregoire-Candidate, Representative for the 34th District State Representative seat
  8. 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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  • Chatham residents don't control the real estate. If you don't control the real estate you can't control who is living in your area. This brings in a lot of riff raff. The majority of the landlords are people who don't live there. They are only concerned with making money. They don't carefully screen tenants and won't kick them out because they want the money.
    They are very eager and actively search for section 8 tenants. People of chatham should try to get as many buildings as possible and don't accept section 8 and price them too high for low income people. They could have a housing fund to deal with this issue. There is too much poverty moving in and too many yuppies moving out or avoiding the area altogether.

  • In reply to carmelcutie:

    The section 8 issue has been used but the numbers don't bear out. The number of lease compliant or non lease compliant former CHA residents do not add up. Blaming low income people for the lack of parenting from working and middle income residents is wrong. Yes there are problems , much from a generation that feels they are entitled to someone taking care of them whether family or the government. Yes, during the early 2000's we saw a rise in the level of investor owned properties but many of the investors have lost these properties to foreclosure and with changes in available financing only legitimate investors can get in the market. Per most real estate figures a number of these properties are going back on the market and becoming owner occupied.

    The bottom line is we have to reestablish block clubs who have to plug into the available resources(i.e CAPS, CBO meetings, ward meetings, etc) and where there are issues tackle them by owners and if you feel they are CHA section 8 1-800-533-0441 and report it. 2012 has to be the year of no excuses.

  • In reply to Worlee:

    People of different classes can't live together. There is a different set of values, and culture. I may seem harsh but its truth. Low income people bring a lower quality of life and a ghettoe lifestyle that harms the area. If Chatham is to become a good area again the level of poverty has to be reduced. Until then upwardly mobile middle class people will continue to avoid this area or move out for greener pastures in bronzeville, hyde park, or beverly.

    The poor are responsible for their situation. They made their own bed (by having kids before they were emotional and finacially ready and dropping out of school), so now they must ly in it. They need their own area. All criminals aren't poor-lower middle class, but most of the crime in Chatham is comitted by them.

  • In reply to carmelcutie:

    Generalities do not help the situation and blaming people will not solve the problem. Historically, before integration blacks both low income and middle class had to live together because of restrictive covenants that limited the areas they could live in and they did.live together. Its only in the last 50 years that blacks segregated themselves by class and everyone in Chatham hasn't been middle class. I personally do not care about whether the person next to me is middle class or low income but rather do they share the same values as I do such as education, respect, for self, property and others, etc.

    Contrary to your generalities, the information I see state the opposite. Stay tuned to my blog and in a couple of weeks you will see how far off base you are..

  • Your liberal mindset will be the downfall of your community. Did u know businesses look at the median income and education levels when they determine what areas they will locate? Even if the poor don't cause crime they still are a problem. They make an area unattracive to business owners(even black business owners). I don't know any area witha high concentration of poor is vibrant with low crime, that is clean, and has nice commercial options.

    During segregation we all could live together because the different classes shared the same values and culture. The low income family was married and so was the middle class family, they all took education seriously had neighborhood pride etc. That can't happen today as black americans have different cultures and aren't one monolithic group with the lower class so out of control and dysfunctional and a ball and chain weighing down the productive people.

  • If class isn't a problem then why when the projects was torn down the areas surronding it started to revitalise while the areas( south suburbs, chatham, auburn gresham etc.) receiving those people became dumps overnite. I don't see how you can't see a connection between the ghetto culture of lower income people and area decline especially when its staring right at u in the face.

  • In reply to carmelcutie:

    Anytime private industry, government and educational institutions invest billions of dollars in a community(i.e. Bronzeville) and price out individuals it will improve. But there are still low income people living there. The development in front of IIT has low income subsidized apartments. next to $300,000 homes.

  • No I'm not liberal. I'm very realistic and understand that everyone who commits crime is not low income and those "low income" individuals who commit crime many come from families where values are taught.

    The elitist attitude that you have is exactly why we have seen the issues we have. Yes , some of the new residents come from families with a different sense of values but some are the descendants of long time residents who were taught values and respect but choose to live in la la land thinking that the world operates like rap videos.

    Again, pointing fingers while in a house locked behind security doors with video cameras and security systems is not going to solve the problem. Nor will running from community to community solve the problem. We have to get back to standing up and teaching those values. We don't allow littering, BBQ and card games on the front porch, card, etc Also, forcing government to do what they should have done which is fund community based programs that give young people alternatives and fund infrastructure improvements that deter loitering and crime as well as stimulate economic development that gives small business the incentive to hire young people.. Lastly, for those who want to keep up the foolishness is let them feel the long arm of the law.

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