South Side Community Clean-Up With A Few Good Women

Karen Hicks has been on the frontline making a difference in the community for many years. She addresses her brothers and sisters as Kings and Queens. In 2019, Hicks and other concerned women founded A Few Good Women. The organization’s mission is to provide sensible solutions such as fighting against hunger, and bringing back codes of conduct, love, and hope back to the black community.

Saturday, April 23, A Few Good Women and volunteers will clean up trash on the south side of Chicago. A Few Good Women has a Neighborhood Clean-Up Campaign Resolution with the mission to bring back beauty and pride to the community. The organization’s clean-up resolution calls for more garbage cans, light poles, repainted street signs, fire hydrants, and mailboxes. Hicks wants vacant lots to become playgrounds, a garden for the community to play chess, and clean-up crews that will provide summer jobs for the youth.

Tammy Gibson: Why did you start A Few Good Women, and how did you come up with the name?

Karen Hicks: It started with my friend, the late Harold Davis. We attended an event where we interviewed candidates, asking them a series of questions pertaining to the black community that was phenomenal. After the event, we went out to lunch. Harold said to me, “If we just had a few good women like you.” While working on Dr. Willie Wilson’s campaign, I met and chose six women, and that’s how A Few Good Women started.

TG: Why do you think the south side of Chicago does not get the same attention to clean-up as other neighborhoods?

KH: The blame is on the aldermen, leaders in the community, and the constituents. Nobody complains, it’s that simple. It’s IDOT’s responsibility to make sure that the expressways are clean. They need to do a better job cleaning the trash on the Dan Ryan expressway.

TG: There used to be an “open door” policy where constituents would come and talk to their alderman about issues in their ward. Does the “open door” policy still exist?

KH:  The “open door” policy does not exist anymore. Army & Lou’s on 75th Street used to be the place where politicians, police chiefs, etc., would come and meet with the constituents and hear their concerns in the community. I have been in politics since I was 18 years old. I would be at Army & Lou’s all the time. Anybody in any political position or authority would be there to listen and come up with solutions. Today, you can look at the community and see that nothing is being done because there isn’t an “open door” policy.

TG: Do you think some people feel that there is no hope making it challenging to maintain beauty and pride in a community?  

KH: I worked at Chicago Housing Authority when they tore down the projects. There are two different types of people. A child that is raised in the projects is not trained to keep the grass cut or pull the garbage. When the projects were demolished, families moved into a community that took care of their lawn, and the block was clean. Then, you have many of us who don’t say, “Hey, pick up that trash and throw it in the garbage.” I feel that we are all wrong. We assume that the people who came from the projects would know what the people raised in a house would know. We don’t have the same structure in family homes as I did when I grew up. I don’t care how impoverished the community was, the community was clean, and you never saw trash. I’m not a fan of former Mayor Daley, but one thing he did right was you never saw a filthy neighborhood when he was in office. Every community was clean and well maintained. It aggravates me to ride through the community and see the amount of trash in my neighborhood. If I was a pastor or politician, there is no way I could ride through these communities without making a phone call to get these neighborhoods clean. It’s an insult to us as taxpayers.

I want to give a shout-out to Alderman David Moore. If you go into his community today, there are garbage cans on every corner. He is the only alderman I have seen that has made a difference in his community.

TG: What areas will you be cleaning up on the south side?

KH: We will be cleaning up from 79th to 83rd & Lafayette from 10:00am to 12:00pm. We are cleaning up our community because we care. I remember when Chicago was beautiful. You never saw trash on the ground.

When I clean up the neighborhood, it’s not to shame anyone. If my community sees us cleaning up the trash, others will catch on and do the same. I am serious about cleaning up and beautifying our neighborhoods.

For more information about A Few Good Women and to volunteer, go to Donations are accepted via Cash App at $afewgoodwomen.


Tammy Gibson is an author, re-enactor, and black history traveler. Find her on social media @sankofatravelher.

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