Just when you thought President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama descended beyond planet Chicago to a place where the words—Democrats and Republicans are not allowed—they return to their hometown for a brief peek-a-boo appearance. You must admit, the Obamas are our modern-day Kennedys without the “Hollywood” drama—we look forward to getting a glimpse into their lives because it was a time when they walked down the same streets we shared, they ate at the same dining spots and yes—once upon a time ago—I too, had Johnnie Wright as my hairstylist.

Student participants pictured l-r: Ramuel Figueroa, Tiffany Brown Ph.D, President Barack Obama, Max M. Freedman and Ayanna Watkins PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

Nearly, ten years later, I’m stuck with a frizzy ponytail and memories of when my hair had plenty of body, shine and bounced with every step—just like our favorite FLOTUS. Nonetheless, it was a treat to see 44th take some time out on his first public appearance since his exit as POTUS on Monday to speak with students at the University of Chicago.

The invite-only event was held at the Logan Theatre which welcomed a select group of college students from both community and four-year college institutions. Introduced by University of Chicago undergraduate Richard Omoniyi-Shoyoola, a cool and more ‘relaxed-looking’ Obama joined the student panelists on-stage to thunderous applause—wearing a black suit, white button-down shirt and no tie.

For the next 75 minutes, he moderated the conversation on the importance of civic engagement and community organizing, sharing stories from his own experience as a Chicago community organizer, leading into his political career. The student panel was a diverse group of young leaders that included Kenwood Academy High School and Chicago State University graduate, Tiffany Brown, Ph.D., Ramuel Figueroa (Undergraduate at Roosevelt University), Max M. Freedman (Undergraduate at University of Chicago), Kelsey McClear (Undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago), Harish Patel (Graduate of UIC) and Ayanna Watkins (Senior at Kenwood Academy High School).

It was an engaging conversation that, at times, showcased Obama’s sense of humor and ease. Without making a reference to the current POTUS, it was clear he was steering clear from media soundbites that may put him back into the political “lion’s den”.

Chicago leaders protest Facebook Live

Last week, Cook County Board Commissioner Richard Boykin, Father Pfleger, Rev. Jesse Jackson along with other community stakeholders requested Facebook shut down its Facebook Live feature to prevent crimes from sweeping throughout the social media network.

The group protested in front of the company’s Chicago offices with Rev. Jackson sending a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, requesting a meeting. The latest disheartening images of 74-year-old Robert Godwin being brutally shot and killed on a Cleveland street was the most recent posts in a string of violent fb posts.  Leaders are asking the social media company to develop and enforce technology to detect such heinous images before they go viral.

Meanwhile, don’t forget about Instagram and Snapchat–since technology will always stay ahead of the curve. This madness has been taking place for quite awhile and it took our leaders over 50 to alert a protest over national media attention? *Big Sigh*  #miccheck #cantstoptechonology #generationaldisconnect

Shun Dyes (Co-owner/Renaissance Bronzeville and Tantrum)

Birthday Shout-Outs

As we fall into Taurus nation, birthday shout-outs go out to one of my favorite record promotions executives Debra “Snoopy” Hanna on April 26. A big up to Tshoma Pugh aka Taco Bops on April 27 and Chosen Few DJs co-founder and attorney Alan King celebrate on April 28. V103’s very own DJ Phantom and marketing rep. Celena Clay—raise the roof on April 29. The “man with the plan”, nightclub owner Shun Dyes celebrates another born year on April 30 and super radio consultant Tony Gray on May 1.

Congrats & Accolades

DJ Mark “Flava” Fuller

Chicago has a rich tradition of grooming some of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, executives and community organizers. This Friday, April 28, Blueprint Global Group in partnership with the 100 Black Men of America, Black Enterprise, National Urban League and others will celebrate a star-studded event that recognizes 50 Chicago African American men at The Made Man reception. The event will take place at the Hyatt Hotel and among some of the recipients are familiar faces—Daryl D. Jones, Esq., DJ Mark Fuller, Tyrone Stoudemire, Kenny Johnson, Jonathan Swain, Spencer Leak, Jr., J Nice and Carl Tutt—among many of the honorees.

The South Side community of Washington Park, Woodlawn and West Hyde Park will finally receive a multi-facility grocery store. On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp, Ald. Willie Cochran (20th Ward) with key community leaders made the official announcement of Jewel making their home at 61st and Cottage Grove.  The cosmetic changes in that corner of the neighborhood is a reflection on the gradual changes of the community—strap on your seatbelt because the ride will be a progression of changes.

Mayor Emanuel and Southside residents at the Jewel announcement. PHOTO: Brooke Collins/City of Chicago

This week is Money Smart Week and the team from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs office has implemented a partnership with Econ Illinois to help improve financial literacy among Illinois students. The program will include working with K-12 schools throughout the state and introducing new Illinois Social Science standards. Big ups to Treasurer Frerichs and his team, Greg Riveria and Paris Ervin, for keeping the community well-informed and evenly engaged. 

Last weekend, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) hosted LakeFX CreativeCon–a two-day conference filled with music, art and film seminars and showcases at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Pictured l-r: Caryn Lee (Interscope Records), Tyra Martin (WGN-TV), Rona Mercado (Cashmere Agency) and Mary Datcher (Chicago Defender)

Great panel discussions by Donda’s House (Rhymefest ‘Che’ Smith and Donnie Smith), Swank PR Publishing (Bhiana Gatlin), WGCI’s Moon Dawg, the Chosen Few DJs (Alan King and Terry Hunter), among many AWESOME discussions. Many thanks to Tyra Martin (WGN-TV), Rona Mercado (LA’s Cashmere Agency) and Caryn Lee (Interscope Records) for sharing their knowledge and experience on my panel, “Women in Music, Media and Marketing”. This was the third year, I’ve had the pleasure to moderate a panel discussion at the Lake FX and as always–many thanks to the DCASE staff and volunteers for putting so much hard work and energy to give back to the Chicago creative and performing arts community.

Got news that is worth mentioning? Birthdays, Promotions, Anniversaries or just plain good ‘dish’? Email us.

Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter

comments – Add Yours