Pictured l-r: Jimilita Tillman-Hunter, Mary L. Datcher, Betty Magnus, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dorothy Tilman, Ken Benford and Merry Green (Founder-BWe)

Just when you wind down from one high-octane event, another one is right around the corner. We want to thank everyone who came out to attend this year’s Black Women’s Expo at McCormick Place this past weekend. Kudos to Merry Green and her hard-working staff for producing the 3-day weekend that drew thousands of attendees. It was truly a beautiful crowd of of women and men patronizing small and big businesses.

The Chicago Defender hosted an in-depth town hall discussion at the BWe with ABC-7 news reporter Evelyn Holmes, who did a wonderful job keeping the conversation flowing among the panelists. Many thanks to Sen. Kwame Raoul, Dorothy Tillman, Geneva Reed-Veal, Percy Coleman, Mecole Jordan, Kofi Xola and Natalie Howse for their immense knowledge and resources shared among the audience. Unbeknownst to us, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Betty Magnus from Rainbow PUSH stopped by to support the discussion, and it wouldn’t be complete if Rev. Jackson didn’t grab the mic. The room was big, the crowd was small, but the message was LOUD AND CLEAR — Black folks must not be afraid to be Black. The fight and the struggle is not over. We must begin to WAKE UP and stay WOKE. Hopefully, this message carried over to the packed-out room led by actress Vivica A. Fox.

Josephine Wade is greeted by Mrs. Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Prtizker at husband’s (J.B. Pritzker) Illinois Governor announcement.

Shaking It Up

Meanwhile, as Black women, the most impactful household consumer was at the McCormick Place — billionaire J.B. Pritzker was making the rounds at various rallies as our new Illinois gubernatorial candidate. Attending his announcement last Thursday at the Grand Crossing field house in a predominantly Black community, the presence of key community stakeholders and public officials were in the building; Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), businessman Larry Higgins and restaurant owner of Josephine’s, Josephine Wade.

Pritzker is sparing no “sugar coating” of where the swing vote lies. The African-American community is a tipping scale to putting people in office — whether we vote or not, it can determine the outcome.

The Chicago Police Department may have another problem on its hands with the death of Shawn Brider, who fell asleep in his vehicle on Sunday night. He was arrested for falling asleep with a small child in the parked car and brought into custody by police officers at 3rd District Police Station. Brider was found unresponsive when they checked on him around 12:15 a.m., where he was announced dead. Relatives said he was waiting on his girlfriend to come downstairs when he dosed off from being tired. Later, a spokesperson said, Brider may have died from cardiac arrest.

Unless there was something else that was wrong with the driver’s behavior, a warning would have been warranted — not being brought into police custody. The streets have been quiet from protests, but it doesn’t mean routine behaviors have changed. The report from the Cook County medical examiner’s office is underway from the autopsy.

Meanwhile, over at City Hall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed at a public discussion last week at the Cultural Center that he’s proposing each CPS high school senior must show proof of a college acceptance letter to a four-year, community college or trade school/apprenticeship program to graduate. He feels students must prepare themselves for the workforce, and without committing to higher education they will have a hard time.

Some of our most creative and successful entrepreneurs are not college-made individuals. To put a ”mandate” on this requirement can also lead to early drop-out rates and, sorry mayor, it can also be misguided as ”elitist.” There are various challenges that our youth face every day, and depending on their personal circumstances, choices must be put in place as an ”option,“ not as a ”threat,“ to lose a diploma.

R&B singer/songwriter, Ben One.

Birthday Shout-outs

This week’s birthday celebrations kicked off on 4/11 with special belated wishes to Chef Cordell McGary and Lamar Maine Flowers. Democratic Committeewoman Stephanie Coleman on April 13 and R&B bad boy Ben One on April 14. Party promoter Jeff Eaton, Attorney Randy Crumpton and WKKC’s General Manager, Dennis Snipe, celebrate on April 16. The month of the “ram” continues to charge on with House music’s own DJ Heather and Soul songstress Candice Marie on April 17.

Celebrity Spotting

Coming back to the Chi-ILL is a lighter and tighter rapper Gucci Mane, in concert on April 12 along with Chicago’s own Dreezy at the Chicago Theatre.

On Tuesday, the Obama Foundation announced that three firms have combined talents to lead the project management for the Obama Presidential Center (OPC). The “Center Consortium” will be composed of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), McKissack & McKissack, and Ardmore Associates, all of Chicago.

Charging forward without a hitch, the team will be responsible for establishing and directing the processes that are necessary to ensure that the OPC is designed and, eventually, constructed in accordance with the budget, schedule, and technical requirements of the Foundation. Get ready Jackson Park and surrounding neighborhoods to get more North Side neighbors.   

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