This week, as we celebrate the life and legacy of former Chicago Defender Editor Robert A. Sengstacke, we are grateful to him for defining what makes the Chicago Defender strong. His love and loyalty for Black people were unrivaled and undiminished. We saw it in his photos that archived a time in our American history that was often turbulent, yet empowering. At times when we didn’t see the beauty in ourselves and our culture, a Robert Sengstacke photo would show you the opposite.
When I interviewed friends and family about ”Bobby,“ the main thing they all said was that he loved Black people. His passing March 7, at 73, was another blow to the Chicago and Black arts community because he helped shape a poignant chapter in our civil rights movement through his photographs, and later in his mini-documentaries.
As a journalist, I am moved when I watch his short films and sort through the Chicago Defender archives of his works. Wow! To be in the middle of a revolution of beautiful independent thinkers who included writers and artists such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Oscar Brown Jr., Margaret Burroughs, Haki Madhubuti, Herbie Hancock and others must’ve been BANANAS. To feel that level of consciousness and to know that you influenced REAL CHANGE. Bobby Sengstacke was a part of this era in Chicago and across the nation.
As I wrote about his legacy for this week’s front-page tribute story, I became troubled because deep down I wondered if we will ever experience and embrace that kind cultural pride again. The kind of cultural pride that is felt across town in Little Village — where their business corridor is the second-highest-grossing shopping district in the city. The same community that graces multiple visual murals of Latino culture and history on every block and very little empty storefronts.
We must do better. We must love who we are as a people —without shame, without malice and without hate.
On Tuesday, a much belated birthday shout-out to the Remix King, Grammy-award winning remixer and DJ Maurice Joshua on March 21. Music and marketing promoter Christopher Watkins, radio and mixshow rep-turned-DJ Happy Lewis and DJ Mike Feva celebrate March 22. Much love to New York born to Chicago and now in the Dominican Republic, Charlie Chase; Brand strategist and DJ Lee Farmer; Louder Than a Bomb Director and author Kevin Coval; and the Latin prince of House music, DJ Lugo Rosado on March 23. Celebrations are for Chicago actress Diandra Lyle and DJ Opeski on March 24. Everyone’s favorite comeback kid, Howard Bailey; Todd I. Walton and founding member of the Hot Mix 5, Scott ‘Smokin’ Silz celebrate on March 25. Haaaaaaay ‘in the middle of the barn’ . . . happy birthday to Crucial Conflict member Cold Hard on March 26.
Congrats and Accolades
Chicago Bulls player Dwyane Wade and his lovely wife, actress Gabrielle Union, were on hand for ”A Night On the Runwade” fundraiser at Revel Chicago. The event premiered his new fashion line, DSQUARED2, which raised funds for the Wade’s World Foundation. It was nearly sold out with some familiar faces in the building that included Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler, Gospel singer Michelle Williams and actress Mariel Hemmingway. The highlights of the party were New York twin sisters DJ Coco and Breezy, who had the crowd bouncing to bites from Sunda, The Duck Inn, Bottle Fork, Korbel and Jack Daniels.
Congrats to Dwyane Wade and his family on another successful event. They are a wonderful example of staying true to their roots and helping to provide resources for the Roseland community.