Teesee’s Town: Harsh Society names two Timuel Black fellows

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Congratulations – to Sherry Williams and Prof. Sonja Williams on being named the first two Timuel D. Black Jr. Short-Term Fellows in African-American Studies by the Vivian G. Harsh Society Inc.

Congratulations – to Sherry Williams and Prof. Sonja Williams on being named the first two Timuel D. Black Jr. Short-Term Fellows in African-American Studies by the Vivian G. Harsh Society Inc. The one-and two-month summer fellowship programs support scholars, writers, educators and institutional researchers who would benefit from research conducted at the Vivian G. Harsh Collection. Fellows receive $2,000 monthly while doing research in Chicago.

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Sherry Williams                                                          Sonja Williams

Sherry Williams has on her own, and in conjunction with the Bronzeville/Black Chicago Historical Society, explored the Vivian G. Harsh Collection to identify and organize African-American Civil Rights participation and experiences of Black activists in Chicago. The longer-term intention of the research is the creation of a graphic museum exhibit and the production of community-based learning materials. Prof. Sonja Williams, chair of the Dept. of Radio, Television and Film in the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University (Washington, D.C.), is working on a book-length project on the late Richard Durham, editor, media producer and radical educator, best known for his Chicago-produced radio drama series, “Destination Freedom,” during the late 1940s.

The nonprofit Harsh Society focuses on preserving, making accessible and publicizing the cultural treasures housed in the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature (“Collection”). Founded in 1932, the Collection is the oldest and largest archival repository of Black history and culture in the Midwest. A unit of the Chicago Public Library at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, the Collection is nationally renowned because of the range of materials it owns. Its original manuscript collection includes the papers of the W.P.A.’s “Negro in Illinois” project, novelist Richard Wright, poet Langston Hughes, journalists Era Bell Thompson and Ben Burns, political cartoonist Chester Commodore, sociologist Horace R. Cayton, novelist/historian Arna Bontemps, and historian/activist Timuel Black and others.

Just last week, the Collection added the Abbott-Sengstacke Family Papers, which chronicles the lives and business histories of the founders and publishers of the Chicago Defender.

The Vivian G. Harsh Society Inc. provides financial and volunteer support to assist the work of the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection. Scholars, community activists and creative artists formed the Society in 1994 to acknowledge and preserve the value of a rich African-American culture, to raise funds to promote the Collection and make it more accessible to scholars, researchers, students and the general public. The fellowship is made possible by the collaborative support of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, generous support of individual contributors to the Vivian G. Harsh Society, Ariel Investments and Polk Bros. Foundation.

High Honors – Spencer Leak Sr., president of Leak & Sons Funeral Home; Emily Barr, president and general manager of ABC 7 Chicago; and Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, pick up well-earned honors from the Chicago Center for Cultural Connections on June 11 during an awards luncheon at the Palmer House hotel.

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Spencer Leak Sr.                                             Emily Barr

Also being recognized “for having made a difference to stem violence in the community” will be Christine O’Reilly, Chicago White Sox’s senior director of community relations; Ill. State Rep. Edward J. Acevedo (2nd) and Purpose Over Pain, parents who’ve lost children to gun violence. Mayor Richard Daley keynotes. CCCC was established in 1935 as the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Ride & Rally – Hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts gather June 13, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., for the Seventh Annual Green Ribbon Motorcycle Ride & Rally to exhibit their bikes and enjoy entertainment by Five Guys Named Moe and Vintage Wood, food and contests. Organized by the Walter Payton Center Guild, proceeds from the rally support research and treatment of hepatitis, colon cancer, organ transplantation, diabetes and obesity at the University of Illinois Medical Center’s Walter Payton Liver Center. A portion of this year’s proceeds will benefit Chicago-area veterans’ hospitals. The event, followed by several scenic rides, will be staged at Kendall County Fair Grounds, at Rt. 71 and East Highpoint Rd. in Yorkville, Ill.

Established in 1997 by a group of concerned Chicago-area residents, the Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease Council was dedicated to improving the quality of life of family members, friends, neighbors and business associates afflicted by hepatitis C, colon cancer and digestive, liver or nutritional diseases. GLDC has now joined with the Payton Liver Center to form the Walter Payton Center Guild. Its activities directly support the work of faculty physicians at the U of I Medical Center/Chicago. Call (708) 788-1300 or print out a registration form at http://www.greenribbonrally. org, its website. Pre-registration for groups of 10 or more, $20; rally day registration, $25. For more, visit the website or call (866) 842- 2003.

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