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Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Cicely L. Fleming

Statement at Black Student Achievement Board Meeting

This is the statement I read at the April 25 District 65 School Board meeting on black student achievement:
"Tonight I planned to make plea to the Board about what I think is an injustice in our education system, then I decided, I am not going to plead for what should be an equitable education for all."
I thought about my ancestors who pleaded with shackles around their necks while being led onto slave ships mothers who pleaded from auction blocks watching children being sold away black men who pleaded before being hung from trees residents who pleaded to keep Foster school open parents who pleaded last December. I thought of their heartache, and decided – I am not going to plead for blacks to receive a quality education in this school system – I refuse.
I ask this community, to use your voice to speak out against racism in our institutions. Our country is imploding due to racism yet we pretend there is no racism here, like we escaped part of American history. We have created this environment where if you speak out about race you are ‘paranoid.’ Whether intentional or not, racism is here. If we do not speak out about it, we continue to have these same problems in our schools, with our police, all over. We do not need to be ashamed, we cannot hide racism is not leaving. Call it what it is so we can heal.
The only plea I will make tonight is to black parents. I plead with you to take your frustration, your anger, your heartache, and channel it into determination – it is the only way that black people have survived in America. Use your determination and revive what used to be a lively black community in Evanston. Support one another in raising your children. Take care of one another. My most desperate plea is that we do not wait for schools to tell us our children are brilliant – we know our children are brilliant. We have to take responsibility, to do whatever we have to do to make sure our children know they are brilliant, valued, and that they flourish in this society. We have to take urgently and seriously, this report our children are not doing well. We cannot give up but we cannot keep pleading. Our children are dying in the streets we cannot wait. We have to think about how to educate our own children (outside of the schools). This is the only plead I make."



Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Rabbi Andrea London Nina Kavin

On the Table, Evanston

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Evanston prides itself on being a vibrant, diverse community. But too often we find ourselves sitting around tables in our kitchens and dining rooms, cafeterias and churches, barber shops and bars, synagogues and social halls, mosques and restaurants, talking to our friends – people who look like us, think like us, and whose experiences are similar to ours. And that’s even when we’re talking earnestly about how we can help Evanston become a more integrated city.
In collaboration with The Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table initiative, and sponsored by Evanston Interfaith Clergy and Leaders, more than 2,000 Evanston residents and those affiliated with Evanston institutions will come together on May 10, in groups of 10 or 12 at various Evanston nonprofit agencies, businesses and religious institutions. We’ll get to know one another by sharing an intimate potluck dinner with people of different backgrounds and with varying perspectives, engaging in courageous conversations, and help unite this place we call home.
On The Table, Evanston is inspired by the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march through Marquette Park on Chicago’s west side, which he led to protest black urban issues, particularly housing segregation. On The Table, Evanston honors the legacy of the Marquette march by hoping to inspire discussions about issues of race, justice, and equity right here at home and generating new collaborations and activities that will make our City safer, stronger and even more dynamic.
This summer, Chicago’s very first memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project – will be unveiled in Marquette Park during a public ceremony on Aug. 5, the date the march took place in 1966. On The Table, Evanston participants are encouraged to participate in that event as well.
To sign up go to http://bit.ly/1V6FxIf, or contact one of us.



Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Ellen Alexander

'Best Friends'

We were young in France
American students, Midwest bred.
We did not worry about distant Cuban missiles
(The September sky of Provence was blue – so deeply blue.)
We sang American folk songs in the Café des Deux Garcons,
With no suspicion that our President would be assassinated the following year.
We were young in Chicago, confident in our aspirations,
With our now-fluent French, advanced degrees, and beginner apartments.
Then you moved away, creating your family life, while I sought to create myself.
We supported each other across years and miles.
Youth slipped away, mid-life visited, lingered, and departed.
Our friendship has lasted 50 years, our future giving place to our past.
You speak slowly now, and when I visit you, we no longer go for a walk.
Instead, we each rise carefully from our chairs, striving to stay upright,
Our voices low, and neither of us speaking of the darkening sky.



Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Alyce Barry

I’m grateful to Gilo Kwesi Logan for bringing together such a distinguished panel to discuss the Black Male Experience in Evanston at the Evanston Public Library on April 23, hosted as part of the Piven Theatre Workshop’s Quality of Mercy Project.
I wanted to hear more, from both the panelists and the many black residents in the audience. As I expected, the black male experience in Evanston is complex, shocking, and very different from my own, and I hope this was only the beginning of hearing stories that need to be told.
Each panelist started with a moving story about the first moment he realized the impact of being black. Long-time civil rights activist Bennett Johnson said that moment came when he learned he couldn’t attend nearby Orrington School and had to walk to Noyes School instead. In his junior year of high school he was demoted to 2nd string on the football team so that a white student could take his 1st string seat.
Nathan Norman, Youth/Young Adult Outreach Worker for the City of Evanston, said that moment came when he noticed a difference in lifestyle in the home of a childhood friend. Designer Dino Robinson, founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center, described the moment in kindergarten when another child kicked him in the stomach and said, “[bleep] aren’t allowed to play with toys.” Instead of intervening, the teacher turned away.
Circuit Court Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, who grew up in Haiti and became an activist at ETHS, spoke with dignified restraint of the “schizophrenia of existence” as a black man wanting not to be “pissed off all the time.”
I found myself getting angry as I heard of efforts to reopen a school in the 5th Ward, which Mr. Robinson said were derailed by white residents who wanted to ensure diversity in their children’s own schools. The result is that black kids have to spend time on buses, and don’t have the benefits of a school in their own neighborhood, so that white kids can see a token number of black faces in their classrooms. (The subject of busing in District 65 came up also at the special District 65 Board meeting on April 25, and I was pleased to hear board members acknowledge that this discriminatory practice must be stopped.)
Chemist Dereck Woods said he didn’t realize he was different until college, when he was asked by a fellow student how he managed to hide his horns and tail. He used a phrase I hadn’t heard, “drive-by diversity,” to describe Evanston’s racial segregation, which seems to sum up Evanston’s attitude toward diversity, i.e., diversity in appearance without equality of opportunity.
Mr. Robinson offered historical context to explain poverty in Evanston’s black community. Before 1900, he said, black neighborhoods existed throughout the City, but after 1900 property values began rising. Banks wouldn’t loan black residents money to improve their homes, and Realtors wouldn’t show them homes in certain neighborhoods, so they were forced to sell at a loss and move to a neighborhood with lower property values.
“The reality is,” Judge Jean-Baptiste said, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress, and we’ve got to keep pushing.”



Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Jean Smiling Coyote

Replace Crown With Dome or Crenosphere

As soon as I heard about the problems with the Robert Crown facility was having, and the possibility that a new building might have to replace it, I suggested that it be replaced by a monolithic dome or crenosphere (depending on size). More information about these construction types can be found on the website monolithic.org of the Monolithic Dome Institute.
Since a number of sports facilities in the same genre as the Robert Crown Center have been built using this construction type, it wouldn’t be hard to find architects experienced with it, or clients who can report their experiences with it.
I have never gotten any replies or reaction to my suggestion. It’s as if I don’t exist. Why has it been ignored? All I’ve done was pass along an established precedent.
Why has my suggestion been ignored?
Because I don’t live in Evanston?
Because I have no academic credentials in architecture?
Because I don’t have any clout?
Because I don’t have any connections?
Because the people in charge have never heard of me?
I understand that the fact that I’m a “nobody” is a common excuse for the people in power to ignore my suggestions, and come up with excuses for ignoring me. I don’t think it’s a legitimate reason for not looking into my suggestion and asking real experts and clients about these construction types.
The start of the investigation is as close as the Internet. Since my suggestion only involves the construction type, it’s not as if I would be due any money if the decision were made to use it. Or would it be giving me too much precious clout to use my suggestion and just thank me for it?



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