Teesee’s Town: Larry Huggins named HistoryMaker at surprise b’day

Celebration! – Some 100 kinfolk and friendfolk certainly put one over on one of Chicago’s fave “good guys,” none other than Larry Huggins, major domo of Rite-Way Huggins Construction Services.

Celebration! – Some 100 kinfolk and friend folk certainly put one over on one of Chicago’s fave “good guys,” none other than Larry Huggins, major domo of Rite-Way Huggins Construction Services. They were on hand for a surprise birthday celebration in the South Loop national headquarters of The HistoryMakers at 1900 S. Michigan. While Huggins was being interviewed and filmed for the archival collection by Julieanna Richardson, THM’s founder and executive director, the invited guests were gathering oh-so quietly in another room.

Co-hosts of the lovely party: Huggins’s sweetie, popular media personality Emilie McKendall (a.k.a. “The Skirt with the Dirt”); and a quartet of his best buddies, Joe Williams, a business partner; Bill Garth, Citizen News publisher; and Everett and Tim Rand, head honchos of Midway Wholesalers. And helping with the preparations were the birthday boy’s lovely doting daughters, Erika, LaToya and Mya. Some of those who braved the winter elements to celebrate his b’day and his never-ending generosity: Rufus and Jaye Williams, Terry Peterson, Chili Chiles, Michael and Diana Scott, Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th). The evening also afforded an opportunity for folks who had never visited the facility to tour and get an intimate firsthand look at the process of being inducted into The HistoryMakers. Happy b’day, Larry!

Hats Off – to Glenn Reedus, the Chicago Defender’s managing editor and columnist, who received high honor and peacock praise from the Chicago Project for Violent Prevention “for media activism.” Reedus was recognized for one of his recent columns supporting Cease Fire that also discussed how Chicagoans can be less violent. Way to go, big guy!

Congrats – to Patricia S. Harris, vice president and global chief diversity officer for McDonald’s Corp., who receives the prestigious Corporate Responsibility Award from Human Resources Development Institute Inc., and HRDI’s Foundation at its annual Community Service Awards Luncheon on Feb. 23 at Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Theta Omega Community Service Center, 6220 S. Ingleside. Harris has enjoyed a 32-year career with McDonald’s, joining the Legal Dept., and rising steadily to her current executive position where she is responsible for the development and implementation of diversity strategies throughout McDonald’s worldwide. Others being saluted “for demonstrated excellence in the public and private sectors” are Clifford Claiborne, Ph.D., chair of HRDF board of directors and a member of HRDI’s board of directors; state Rep. William Davis (D-30th); Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow, chair emeritus, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Audrena Spence, executive director of Metropolitan Family Services’ Calumet Center; Dr. A. Edward Davis Jr., pastor, St. John Missionary Baptist Church; Dr. Lucy Lang-Chappel, CEO, Bobby L. Wright Behavioral Health Center; Huey Williams, president/GM, WSSD Radio, and Audrey McCrimon, Ill. Dept of Human Services.

Doris M. Lomax, HRDI co-founder, began this honor tradition. For 34 years, HRDI has built a reputation for providing behavioral health and human service programs in Chicago, as well as in Nevada, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Washington. HRDI provides culturally-specific services in community health, mental health, substance abuse treatment, children/youth education and prevention, for over 18,000 people annually.

Superfly Revisited – Does Superfly celebrate the spirit of urban Black independence or glorify the American pimp? Is “priest” a revolutionary reinvention of the proud African American male or the embodiment of a new and ugly stereotype? Is the difference between good and bad only a matter of who is being shafted? Does this classic 1970s blaxploitation demand that we suspend our morality along with our disbelief? As part of Columbia College Chicago’s African American Heritage Month celebration, CCC’s Film & Video Dept. and Critical Encounters present a special Cinema Slapdown tomorrow, 7 p.m., at Columbia’s Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, on the eighth floor. Free admission!

Following a special two-hour, nine minute screening of the film "Superfly" by Gordon Parks Jr., and starring the late Ron O’Neal, there will be a spirited debate between film and video faculty members, Vaun Monroe (standin’ with the ‘fly’) and George Bailey (stickin’ it to the movie), and the audience who will attempt to answer the questions.

Film and video faculty member Ron Falzone will referee the debate. Cinema Slapdown is a public film screening series developed by Columbia College’s Film & Video Dept. The format is an entertaining crossbreed of film discussion and knock down, drag out debate. Cinema Slapdown showcases the best and the brightest of Columbia’s expert faculty.

At each Cinema Slapdown, a well-known controversial film is screened. The films screened range from documentaries that polarizes its audience to award-winning features that leave attendees scratching their heads and asking,

“Why?” Wanna know more? Call (312) 344-6708 or visit www.colum.edu/calendar. Ron O’Neal is mostly remembered for his starring role as the tough talking drug dealer Youngblood Priest in the blaxploitation film "Superfly," although he also had a small recurring role on the TV show "Living Single" as Synclaire’s father. He died in 2004 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66 on the same day "Superfly" was released on DVD in the U.S. O’Neal was raised in Cleveland. He attended Ohio State University for a semester where he said he “just played bridge.” After seeing a production of Finian’s Rainbow, he became interested in acting and joined the interracial theatrical troupe, Karamu House, in 1957, training there for nine years and acting in productions of "Kiss Me Kate" and "A Streetcar Named Desire." In 1966, O’Neal moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. He supported himself teaching school in Harlem while he looked for work. His first big break came when he was cast in a Broadway production of "Ceremonies In Dark Old Men." In 1970, he won an Obie for his performance in Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre production of "No Place To Be Somebody." O’Neal worked on two small films, "Move" (1970) and "The Organization" (1971), before he was contacted by a pal about starring in a script he had written about a street hustler who wanted to go straight.

"Superfly" was a surprise success and its tale of a drug dealer trying to find redemption helped to make it one of the quintessential films in the burgeoning blaxploitation genre. Shot on a show string budget, the movie grossed $6.4 million at the box office. The movie’s funky soundtrack spent 46 weeks on the Billboard charts, five of them at number one, and would sell over two million copies. He soon found the only film roles offered to him were pimps and drug dealers. He returned to Broadway in 1975, replacing "Cleavon Little in All Over Town," directed by Dustin Hoffman. O’Neal appeared in other movies, "The Master Gunfighter," "When a Stranger Calls," "A Force of One" and "Up Against A Wall," which he directed. He also made many TV appearances including guest shots on such series as "A Different World" and "Frank’s Place." In 1996, O’Neal joined other former 1970’s Black action stars Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier, in the blaxploitation homage, "Original Gangstas."

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