Tag Archives: inner city

Woman of the Ghetto: marlena shaw dealing the cold truth

 

I just found a copy of “Woman of the Ghetto” by Marlena Shaw for 4 bucks! Killer Chicago recording from 1969.  The song has been sampled multiple times, among them:

St. Germain sampled from “Woman of the Ghetto” from Live at Montreux used in “Rose Rouge” on Tourist (2000)

9th Wonder and Buckshot also sampled “Woman of the Ghetto” in the track “Ghetto”, and Evil Dee (of Black Moon)’s remix of the same song.

Early integration of a Kalimba in popular western music. Richard Evans production. Jazzy Funk mastery. Lyrics below.  Nuff said. 

I was born, raised in a ghetto
I was born and raised in a ghetto
I’m a woman, of the ghetto
Won’t you listen, won’t you listen to me, legislator?

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

How do you raise your kids in a ghetto?
How do you raise your kids in a ghetto?
Do you feed one child and starve another?
Won’t you tell me, legislator?

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

Baked from the souls in the ghetto

Tell me, tell me, Legislator?
Strong true,
my eyes ain’t blue
I am a woman
Of the ghetto

I’m proud, free,
Black, that is me
But I’m a woman of the ghetto

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

How do we get rid of rats in the ghetto?

How do we get rid of rats in the ghetto?

Do we make one black and one white in the ghetto?

Is that your answer, legislator?

How do you legislate, brother?

How do you legislate, brother?

When you free one man and try to chain up another,

Tell me, Tell me legislator?
How does your heart feel late at night?
How does your heart feel late at night?
Does it beat with shame, or does it beat with pride?
Won’t you tell me, legislator?

(na-na-na-na-na-na-na, …)

My children learned just the same as yours
As long as nobody tries to close the door
They cry with pain when the knife cuts deep
They even close their eyes when they wanna sleep

We must all have identity

That’s the only way that we can be free

Now peace, you say
is all that you ask
But self-respect is a separate task

You may be sitting up there
in your ivory tower
60 stories tall

Now you may have seen at least one ghetto
But I wonder have you lived there at all?

Places like Watts,
ah, Detroit, tell me
Chicago, ah tell me,

Harlem, tell me,

Washington, tell me

See the women cry

See  the children die….

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

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Operation Breadbasket, the seed of PUSH

Harry Belafonte at Operation Breadbasket, Chicago 1968

I have dedicated a number of posts here at Darkjive to the PUSH Expo, a 1970s exercise in Black Economic Empowerment (or Black Power as it was then known). The PUSH Expo phenomenon was borne from the seed of Operation Breadbasket (a department of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference), but the roots took twisted turns.

The term “Civil Rights Movement” often brings to mind images of the deep south, but Chicago was a key battleground in those days. Not just because of the influx of new Black citizens that the Great Migration delivered, but because of the ongoing struggles for housing equality and empowerment exacerbated by said influx.

Jesse Jackson, whose ties to Dr. King traced back to the Campaign at Selma in 1965, was selected by King to head Operation Breadbasket’s Chicago Branch.  True to its name, the organization distributed nourishment to the communtity, but it also played a more proactive role to fighting for social justice. 

Tactics such as boycotts were implemented, but according to Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), a seamier aspect including cronyism and strong-arming businesses to donate money to Operation Breadbasket were folded into the tactics, as well.

Eventually, leadership rifts came to a head, and in December 1971, Jackson fell out with Ralph Abernathy, King’s successor as head of the national SCLC. Jackson and his allies broke off and formed Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).

Various sources tell me that this was a pivotal moment in Chicago History because a giant, organized black party (the largest in Chicago at the time) broke off into factions and never regained the traction it had built before that point.  Then crack hit the community like the atomic bomb (and the fallout is still being felt).  I argue that the hindsighted strength of the PUSH Expo-era was built on momentum created in the years that had preceded it, in conjunction with the genius of marketing with a major motion picture (!) and tons of press.   Documentation equals existence itself, and media has the power to romanticize just about anything.

In the end, please leave me the romance.  Let me believe that we were SO close to breaking free.  It gives me a fairy tale to build tomorrow upon.


Another Beautiful Struggle

the-beautiful-struggle-198x300“We took comfort in the rebel music that was pumped into the city from up North. Hip-Hop was the rumble of our generation, unveiling all our wants, fears, and disaffections. But as the fabled year of ’88 came upon us, we saw something more in the music, a deeper thing that interrogated our random lives and made us self-aware. We needed 1988, like the mariners of old needed the North Star. I needed a text for understanding my present crack-addled world; Bill needed some conception of a future.”

— from The Beautiful Stuggle, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ autobiographical ode to black manhood (and the struggle to reach it and to cultivate it) is the premise for The Beautiful Struggle (Random House, 2008), a title hip-hop heads might recognize from a 2004 Talib Kweli album.  The album popularized a phrase from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, in which he stated:

“We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”

In the Beautiful Struggle, Coates’ father is larger than life, both Black Panther & Vietnam vet, publisher and cultural historian, trying to raise up seven children in an era when crack created a desert tooled for the destuction of a whole generation.  A book that is both a love note to hip hop, a battle cry, and a tale of rising up, A Beautiful Struggle is beautiful to be sure.


Portraits of Black Chicago: Cool Off

black_youngstersBlack youngsters cool off with fire hydrant water on Chicago’s South Side in the Woodlawn community… June 1973

“…The kids don’t go to the city beaches and use the fire hydrants to cool off instead. It’s a tradition in the community, comprised of very low income people. The area has high crime and fire records. From 1960 to 1970 the percentage of Chicago blacks with income of $7,000 or more jumped from 26% to 58%.”*  caption by John H. White.

* according to Paul Louis Street’s Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis, the median income for Blacks in Chicago in 2000 was “more than $6,000 less than the Economic Policy Institute’s “basic family budget”…for even a small family of one parent and two children ($35,307).  On the flip of this, the median white income in the city was $11,000 more than the that basic family budget.

from the National Archives website:

From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city’s African American community. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history.”

Today, John White is a staff photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

I am a big fan of John H. White’s photography.  He has that magic ability to tell a whole story with one frame.  click here for his website


taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Website


The History of Gangs in Chicago

peopleandfolks

A Communiversity Course beginning next week…
This course examines the history of gangs in Chicago through the lens of racism and social movements.  Rather than explain Chicago’s history of gangs as a one-sided story of criminality, the course looks at how gangs have played political roles in Chicago and have changed in response to local conditions.  Check out an intro video for this course HERE.

Educator: John Hagedorn is Professor of Criminology, Law, & Justice at UIC. Author of People and Folks: Gangs, Crime and the Underclass in a Rustbelt City, his most recent book is A World of Gangs; Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture. William Julius Wilson called Of People and Things “the most insightful book ever written on inner-city gangs” and “required reading for anyone seeking an understanding of gang activity in our large urban centers.”

Dates: March 23 – May 8
Place: online (with two in-person sessions)
Fee:  8 sessions, FREE for all ages

This course is open to all….

for more info (and registration information) click here

About the Communiversity:

According to Mia Henry, Communiversity events, facilitated by the Chicago Freedom School, seek to engage intergenerational audiences in the study of past movements and discussions on what we can learn from them…


Portraits of Black Chicago: High School Student

westinghouse_student2A student at the Westinghouse Industrial Vocation School on Chicago’s West Side. May 1973

“…A student at the Westinghouse Industrial Vocation School on Chicago’s West Side*. She is one of the nearly 1.2 million black people who make up over a third of the population of Chicago**. It is one of the many black faces in this project that portray life in all its seasons. The photos are portraits that reflect pride, love, beauty, hope, struggle, joy, hate, frustration, discontent, worship, and faith. She is a member of her race who is proud of her heritage.”  caption by John H. White

*Westinghouse was demolished in 2009, and a new campus was completed at 3223 West Franklin Boulevard.  No longer a Vocational School; it is now a selective enrollment, college preparatory high school.  The former location of Westinghouse was a former candy factory, listed in the American Institute of Architects’ Guide to Chicago.

**as of the 2000 U.S. Census, the City of Chicago’s Black Population is 1.1 million, a very similar statistic to back in 1973.  However, this data excludes suburban areas (whose African-American populations, in many cases, have swelled).    Also of note:  the 1970 population of Chicago was 3,620, 962.  As of 2000, it was 2,896,016 people

NOTE: I included his original captions here; but I also included my own updates of said captions.

from the National Archives website:

From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city’s African American community. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history.”

Today, John White is a staff photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

I am a big fan of John H. White’s photography.  He has that magic ability to tell a whole story with one frame. click here for his website



taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Website


Life and Death of the West Side

chiriot07nLife And Death of the West Side: a Communiversity Course

Dates:  March 12 – April 30 (8 weeks)

A Community Theatre Project

In this course, participants will create an original theatrical stage production based on the Chicago West side Riots of April 6-8, 1968 (that were in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr). Participants concentrate on script writing, research, production, and set design. The project will end with a live community performance.


Facilitators: Sabrina Miller and Clarice Mills have over 20 years of collective experience in dramatic theatre and community activism.



Time:  Thursdays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Place:  Franklin Park Fieldhouse, 4320 W. 15th St.

Fee:  8 sessions, $25 for 21 and over, free for under 21

photos, Chicago Riots by Jo Freeman.

About the Communiversity:

According to Mia Henry, Communiversity events, facilitated by the Chicago Freedom School, seek to engage intergenerational audiences in the study of past movements and discussions on what we can learn from them…


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This Love’s For Real

This is a Local Chicago record also recorded by The Impressions (and written by Leroy Hutson).  Very obscure.  Very Lincoln-Continental-with-the-suicide-doors Gangster.  Enjoy.

caep_0805_02_z_1963_lincoln_continental_suicide_doors


Teddy (1971)

teddy1971_000120

teddy1971_000180

teddy1971_000660

(runtime 00:16:16)
Produced by the University of California at Los Angeles, Extension Media Center, and Directed by Richard Wells. This is a beautifully raw short film shot in 1971. The opening scene portrays kids, fresh out of high school, but already short on hope. The public domain film presents the first-person experiences of a black teenager coming up in Watts whose brother is in a soul band. He expresses his views on ‘the System’, education, war, drugs, revolution, his community, the Black Panther Party, and the police.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Teddy 1971 Video: Free Videos Online….“, posted with vodpod

 

 

click here to download