Roughly 500 senior citizens took over the Chatham 14 Theaters Aug. 1 to see the premier of “Get On Up, The James Brown Story.”
Clara Hubbard, the creator of the radio show, “Senior Talk w/Clara Hubbard,” hosted the special event. Her show launched May 2011 and it focuses on senior issues, health and lifestyle. Hubbard also provides resources for her listeners. She can be heard every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. on AM1570 WBGX.
For just $10, participants were able to get a movie ticket, popcorn and a drink. The theater closed down for the special group. Attendees came from all over Chicago, said Hubbard. Senior groups throughout the city such as the Red Hat Society, Chicago Foster Grandparents and Chi-Town Line dancers were invited. The event exceeded capacity so some people were turned away.
“This has been the largest event I’ve done,” said Hubbard, who enjoys organizing social events for seniors. “We knew James Brown would be big.”
“James Brown was the godfather of soul,” said Esteine Collier, an attendee.
“I bought all his records, listened to them all when I was growing up and I taught my kids about him; my son loved him,” Collier said.
Edward Grady said he was a big fan and enjoyed Brown’s music. “He did things you didn’t expect an entertainer to do, he was spontaneous when he did his music.”
Others recognized and acknowledged what Brown represented and the messages he put in his music.
“He made a song for every cause that was going on,” said Beverly Allison.
“If there was fighting in the streets with the riot, he had a song for everything, and everybody could dance to it,” said Allison.
M.C. Johnson, a former Negro League player for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1963-1964 came to the screening with his family. He said that he has been a huge James Brown fan all of his life.
Johnson said Brown’s music encouraged Black people to be proud and not let the racism of the time make them feel less than a person.
“White people didn’t like James Brown because he was trying to do what [Martin Luther] King was doing,” Johnson said. “They wanted to figure out a way to work against him.”
Hubbard said she put this event together because often times, seniors are forgotten or put last.
“Many still want to be active,” she said.
Hubbard’s former job required her to work with seniors in their homes and that was when she realized that a lot of them wanted company.
Seeing the James Brown movie was just another way for them to get out and have a good time, Hubbard said. The event was sponsored by AAPR Experience Corps and Oak Street Health.