What you need to know about the South Side of Chicago

What you need to know about the South Side of Chicago
Saint Ignatius College Prep survived the 1871 Great Chicago Fire

The South Side of Chicago embodies the arts, culture, history and beauty. The South Side represents good people who hope and love and triumph over some challenges that may range from poverty to first world problems. It’s more than the slice of crime the media portrays.

We must celebrate unique differences and understand others’ plights to overcome urban problems. Although I grew up on the North Side of Chicago near Wrigley Field, our community faced gang violence and drug dealers when I was young. Crime and the pursuit of justice transcend cross-town borders.

Our Dad, a former Chicago Police Officer, drove us South on the beautiful and rugged lakefront to visit friends and family. Motown music played on my parents’ 1980 white Caprice Classic radio.

We drove past where African Americans settled in Bronzeville around 1920 during the Great Migration from the South. Local historical advocates included Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks and activist Ida B. Wells.

As I ride my bike at a slower pace on that same route toward the majestic South Shore Cultural Center, I admire the beautiful public art murals against the 31st Street Beach. One of my best friends sits on their local DuSable Museum of African American History board there near Washington Park with beautiful mature trees.

South Shore Cultural Center

South Shore Cultural Center

That Washington Park community inspired one of my favorite plays Raisin in the Sun. Its message rings true for the South Side and our world, we are all vulnerable as we strive to be better.

My boys and I now drive South in our used black Saab sedan on the lake to Hyde Park to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. We sing along to my hip hop music in the car. We park in the diverse lakefront community near where some of my friends live in elegant homes.

Security block off the the nearby street, home to the Obama family. They live close to the prestigious University of Chicago.

Also in the press, Spike Lee produced the movie called Chiraq about the Englewood community, west of Hyde Park. He satirizes their gang violence versus Iraq.

On the contrary, the arts and learning of Englewood still flourish with its Urban Prep charter school. Famous actress and musician Jennifer Hudson is a product of this community. Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose grew up there. I volunteered at a school in this community with inspirational teachers and kids.

I made friends from Englewood in high school who are successful in the business world. Our alma mater resides in Little Italy. It’s South and West of downtown on Taylor Street.

Little Italy epitomizes Chicago’s inclusion. Community members represent every social and economic level, racial and ethnic background. Landmarks range from the University of Illinois Chicago campus to fine dining and delicious fast food spots.

The Bridgeport community, home to the White Sox, gentrified over the years. Young professionals and hipsters brought trendy art studios and restaurants in this formerly working class community.

Friends and I listened to rap music as we drove to visit friends all over the South Side and great city of Chicago. We ate from all over the South Side’s ethnic communities from Greek Town to China Town.

We helped clean up the local parks in Pilsen, just South of Little Italy. My family and I still visit the Pilsen Mexican Fine Arts Museum and delicious restaurants today full of wonder and joy.

Another fun fact about the far South Side, there’s even a Beverly neighborhood! This community of beautiful single family homes may brag about their South Side Irish Parade.

Our great melting pot city of Chicago will experience a bright future. We must collaborate to support all of our vibrant City of Chicago and expand the middle class. Schools throughout our city need more funding. There are good people all over our city of Chicago and world.

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