Month: December 2016

Maywood Kwanzaa Ceremony Highlights Day Five’s Nia, or Purpose, By Emphasizing Black Economics

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Attendees at Afriware’s annual Kwanzaa celebration on Friday recite Amy Jacques Garvey’s “This Flag of Mine.” | Michael Romain/VFP

kwanzaa_123016Saturday, December 31, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 1/3/17

Dozens of people packed a second-floor conference room inside of the Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave., on Friday night to commemorate the fifth day of Kwanzaa, whose principal, Nia (which means purpose), was celebrated in a keynote address by Maywood-born author TeQuila Shabazz.

The event, sponsored annually by Afriware Books — which partnered this year with Maywood Youth Mentoring — also featured Atiba Jali’s African drum rhythms, a ceremonial candle lighting and a book givewaway. The Dec. 30 gathering was Afriware’s 22nd annual Kwanzaa celebration.

Shabazz, the founder of the BRIJ Embassy for Black America and the author of The Neo-Green Book, said that her purpose is to help build capital in the African American community by emphasizing the importance of buying, and building, while black.

“You hear a lot about ‘buy black, buy black, buy black,’ which is good, but you have to also give black, too,” Shabazz said. “And time is money. We give a lot of it away.”

Shabazz, 39, worked for 15 years in sales at various media companies, including the Tribune Company, before she discovered that her purpose was beyond Corporate America.

“Today is purpose and I can tell you that it is quite fitting that I would be standing here in Maywood, the community where I was born,” Shabazz said. “My family is from here, parents went to Proviso East. Twenty years ago, at Afriware, I bought my first set of books that brought me into knowledge of self.”

Five years ago, Shabazz said, she left her six-figure job with the Tribune-owned CW TV network. She was stationed in Dallas, which she described as “a perpetual suburb” with no shortage of racial animosity.

The growing frustration and dissatisfaction Shabazz felt with her corporate job and the city’s cultural environment combined with life circumstances to draw her to what she described as another phase of nia.

Her best friend had been killed by the police in 2010. Her daughter, who was born when Shabazz was still a teenager, was about to go off to college on a full scholarship. One day, while driving in Dallas roughly five years ago, Shabazz felt tormented by the pain of being pulled one direction by a job and a culture she despised and what she believed was her true calling.

“In that moment, I swear to you, I was hit by a utility vehicle, smashed into a cement wall and was hit from behind by a little sports car,” she said. “My car was totaled, but I was unscathed. That’s what sent me home [back to Chicago]. I was in a job that required me to be in the field all the time. I’d just bought a new car and I was like, I can’t buy another one. So, I returned home.”

Instead of going back into Corporate America, Shabazz said, she started the BRIJ Embassy, which she describes as “cooperative of people who want to eradicate poverty and build wealth in black America.”

The cooperative has since grown into around 5,000 members whose goal is to “intentionally and strategically” eradicate poverty and build wealth in Black America.

The members, Shabazz said, collect receipts, conduct secret shopper visits, make phone calls and do extensive research in order to make sure that they’re supporting black-owned businesses.

In addition to having a presence on Facebook, the group also regularly hosts single-day shopping events for black-owned businesses, pouring thousands of dollars of money into the enterprises within a matter of hours.

Shabazz’s Neo-green Book includes about 500 black-owned businesses, most of them in Chicago, and is released quarterly. The book is an echo of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, once considered the “Bible of black travel during Jim Crow.”

First published in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green, a black postal employee from Harlem, the Green Book was designed “to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable,” according to Kathleen Franz’s and Susan Smuylans’ Major Problems in American Popular Culture.

Shabazz said her book “the next generation to [Hugo’s] book,” which went out of print in 1966, shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.

“Today, we have to expose and highlight places that are safe to shop at,” she said in an interview earlier this month. “This is an economic war. There are companies we give our money to that fund the prison industrial complex [among other social problems that ensnare poor and minority consumers].”

The struggle, however, is real. That’s a dictum, Shabazz indicated, that holds for all ages, it seems. While looking through the original green book’s archives in New York City, Shebazz discovered a sad truth. Hugo was careful to add a publisher’s caveat to his editions, cautioning his readers that some businesses, while operational before the book went to print, may no longer exist after the publication rolls off of the presses.

Shabazz said part of the motivation to publish her book quarterly was the fact that the lifespan of many black businesses is short, making regular, frequent updates a necessity. In addition to going out of business, some enterprises may change contact information as well, she said.

But the struggle extends deeper than that tough reality, Shabazz noted.

The $1.3 trillion spending power of African Americans that’s often touted as a sign of economic strength, the author said, is less potent when scrutinized. The key word, she said, is spending.

“Spending power, spending, spending, spending,” she repeated. “Not saving, not accumulating wealth, spending, which means I’m giving it away constantly.”

Only around two percent of that black spending power, Shabazz said, gets invested into black businesses. The factoid elicited a collective gasp from the audience.

“That’s terrible, terrible,” said Maywood Youth Mentoring Founder Barbara Cole.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t support our own all of the time,” said Pamela Hunt, of Hunt Cultural Brilliance Group, who introduced Shabazz.

“We only get $26 billion of $1.3 trillion,” Shabazz said. “That’s not even a dent. True wealth is in ownership, which means that our wealth is reflected in our black businesses. Those black businesses earn about $186 billion per year, which is really sad, because we’re spending, like, 10 times that.”

Shabazz said that, of the roughly 2.6 million black businesses in existence, around 90 percent of them are sole proprietors making about $50,000 to $60,000 a year. That means, she said, “we have to increase the intensity of our support to them if, realistically, we are going to have them employ our young people. Right now, [black business owners] are only making enough to survive day-to-day.”

Shabazz suggested that the widely held belief, particularly acute among blacks, that black businesses are often substandard or not very professional often omits the responsibility of black consumers.

“Instead of complaining, contact the business and say, ‘This is what I experienced coming into your place. I really loved this, but if you changed this, you’d be exceptional,” Shabazz said. “That’s accountability, y’all. That’s reciprocity, y’all. That’s among the small things we can do, instead of making excuses all the time about what we ain’t doing.” VFP

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify statements of Pam Hunt. VFP regrets the error. 

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Crashes on 1st Ave. and 9th Ave. Expressway Ramps Among Highest in Chicago Area, IDOT Study Shows

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An exit ramp between 1st and 9th Avenues in Maywood that runs parallel with I-290 and Harrison St. The ramps between 1st and 9th Avenues have crash rates that are significantly higher than other areas on, and along, the Eisenhower and other Chicago area expressways. | Google Earth

Friday, December 30, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Drivers entering and exiting the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway on the ramps between 1st Ave. and 9th Ave. in Maywood may want to take some extra precautions.

According to a crash analysis overview included in the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), released today by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the crash rate for ramps between 1st Ave. and 9th Ave. is nearly 400 percent higher than the crash rate for the section of I-290 that spans from I-88 to Kostner Ave. and nearly 500 percent higher than the section of I-290 spanning from Kostner to Racine Ave.

If one compares the crash rate of 1st Ave. to 9th Ave. ramps with the general crash rate of the Stevenson, Kennedy and Edens expressways, the disparity becomes even starker. See the charts below:

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IDOT’s overview examines three-year crash data from 2011 to 2013, and three-year crash data from 2006 to 2008.

“Crashes per million vehicles per mile were calculated for each section of the local expressways using the crash data and traffic volumes from both of the three‐year study periods (2006‐2008 and 2011‐2013),” IDOT explains.

Why the comparison between 1st/9th, 25th/17th to Oakley/Damen and Homan/Sacramento?

“The six‐lane section of I‐290 between 25th Avenue and 1st Avenue was also further broken down for purposes of analyzing sections where changes in access were considered (between 25th Avenue and 17th Avenue, and between 9th Avenue and 1st Avenue),” IDOT notes.

“These sub‐sections have slip ramps connecting parallel frontage roads to I‐290. Two sub‐sections along the eastern eight‐lane section of I‐290 that were closest in ramp length and geometry to 9th Avenue and 1st Avenue were selected, at Homan Avenue to Sacramento Avenue and at Oakley Avenue to Damen Avenue. It is noted that the eastern sub‐sections benefit from the presence of an additional mainline lane in each direction and an auxiliary lane to aid in weaving maneuvers from

“It is noted that the eastern sub‐sections benefit from the presence of an additional mainline lane in each direction and an auxiliary lane to aid in weaving maneuvers from ramp to mainline and vice versa, both of which would contribute to a predicted reduction in crashes.”

Left: A car exiting I-290 at W. Congress Pkwy. and Sacramento Blvd. The crash rate on ramps between Homan and Sacramento is almost half that of ramps between 1st and 9th Avenues, (right), where the absence of additional mainline lanes separating cars traveling on frontage roads from those coming off of the expressway means drivers face an accelerated risk of getting into an accident.

Most crashes on I-290 are rear-end collisions, same-direction sideswipes and fixed object collisions off the roadway. These crashes occur most often during times of peak congestion, between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“Many same‐direction sideswipes correlate to areas where there are numerous lane‐changing and weaving movements, such as near entrance and exit ramps,” IDOT notes.

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The IDOT impact statement also examines the crash rate for crossroads, such as overpasses that traverse the expressway.

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The most prevalent crashes that take place on frontage roads, or “roads that serve local traffic and run parallel to and adjacent to I‐290,” were crashes with parked vehicles, rear-ends and sideswipes.

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To access more crash information, including crash summaries of full corridors, such as 1st Ave., 25th Ave. and Wolf Road, click here (the charts start on page 20).

Eisenhower Expressway Draft EIS Released for Public Comment

You can view the entire I-290 Eisenhower Expressway Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was released today by the Illinois Department of Transportation as part of the I-290 modernization project, by clicking here.

The statement also includes traffic noise abatement analyses, among hundreds of pages of other detailed evaluation related to planned I-290 improvement projects.

IDOT is accepting comments and/or questions on the Draft EIS through Feb. 13, 2017. To request an electronic copy of these documents on a disc please complete the order form here.

Print versions of the EIS are also available at local libraries in the area. For a full list of those libraries, click here.

To submit a question or comment, click here.

IDOT will host two public meetings on the Eisenhower modernization project. One will take place at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. VFP

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State Rep Seeks Support for White House Reparations Petition

Ford.jpgFriday, December 30, 2016 || By Lee Edwards for Austin Weekly News || @maywoodnews

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) may not represent Proviso Township, but he’s calling on citizens from all over the state to sign a petition to “urge President Obama to establish a study on the impact of slavery in America.”

The petition is designed to leverage support for a house resolution with a recommendation similar to that in the petition.

“I think [a study of slavery’s impact] will help with the first black president of the United States to leave a legacy of having the history of slavery being told in America the right way,” said Ford in a recent interview. “Of course, [Barack Obama] doesn’t have slave blood. His wife and two daughters have slave blood. The tragedy of slavery in this country has been misunderstood.”

Ford sponsored House Resolution 1011 in the Illinois General Assembly, which calls for outgoing President Barack Obama to commission a study on the economic impact of slavery in the United States and analyze how paying reparations affects other ethnicities, among other actions.

The resolution, which passed the Illinois House of Representatives in June, was co-sponsored by West Side state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (78th) and several other legislators. Currently, however, the measure doesn’t have a senate co-sponsor nor has it been brought to the senate floor for consideration.

In order to leverage support for the resolution, Ford recently started the online petition on the White House’s website urging the president to establish a study on slavery’s impact in America. Currently, Ford’s petition, which was launched on Dec. 6, has fewer than 1,000 signatures. White House online petitions set a standard goal of 100,000 signatures within 30 days. Ford’s petition closes on Jan. 4.

Ford said he hasn’t received much support from many African American elected officials or community partners, but he believes that will change once the public is made aware of his petition.

Petition or no petition, though, Ford insisted that he’ll keep pressing the issue.

“I’m going to continue to push this until the story is told in America about the impact of slavery,” said Ford. “We can talk about crime bills and all sorts of things, but until we find out what causes the problems in the black community, we’re never going to be as great as we could be in America.”

Ford said the study is “perfectly timed,” because the incoming Trump Administration would be in a prime position to complete the study. He stated the new administration’s attention on this issue could be one of many ways to recognize and support the various concerns facing the African Americans community.

Reparations to minorities in the United States is not unprecedented. For instance, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which acknowledged and apologized for the wrongful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The legislation created an education fund for the purpose of educating the public about the wrong and issued $20,000 checks to survivors of the camps. VFP

To sign Ford’s petition, click here. To read the resolution, click here

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In Maywood Race for Mayor, Clerk, Trustee Seats, a Dozen Objections Filed | 8 Challenged in Bellwood D88 Race

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A dozen objections have been filed against candidates running for mayor, trustee and clerk in the April 4, 2017 municipal election. | iStockphoto.com/Igor Smichkov

Thursday, December 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 8:02 p.m. 

A dozen objections have been filed by just three people in the race for the three open trustee seats, the one open clerk seat and the one open mayoral seat up for grabs in the April 4, 2017 election.

Seven people have filed the required documentation to run for Maywood Mayor and all but two of them, liquor commissioner Mary “May” Larry and former mayor and sitting trustee Henderson Yarbrough, are facing objections.

Earlier this month, Maywood resident Linda Reedy filed an objection to Yarbrough’s candidacy on the grounds that his petition sheets improperly contained the date of the February primary election, rather than the April election. Reedy said that the inclusion of the primary date would be misleading to voters.

But according to Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who sits on the three-person local electoral board who will decide the merits of most of the objections, Reedy recently withdrew her challenge, freeing Yarbrough and the four trustee and clerk candidates on his Maywood United Party ticket to focus on campaigning, instead of arguing the merits of their candidacies in court.

The five remaining candidates for mayor — Perkins, sitting trustee Antonette Dorris, attorney Luther Spence, community activist Quincy Johnson and resident Kathy Travis — won’t have that luxury.

In addition to those candidates for mayor, several trustee candidates, including independent candidates Rolando Villegas, a Maywood businessman; Elijah Goodwin, who also owns a local business; and Randy Carter, an employee of the Maywood Public Library, were challenged.

Also, the entire Maywood Visionary Party — which is helmed by Dorris, and includes sitting trustee Melvin Lightford, businessman Joseph Wilson and realtor Drena Lanier as trustee candidates, and Steven R. Smiley as the party’s candidate for clerk — was challenged.

All of those objections were filed just two people — Maywood residents Keith Moore and Reginald Lamont Featherston, Sr. — and they range from run-of-the-mill complaints about invalid petition signatures to concerns, such as those regarding places of residence, that could be fatal to some candidates’ chances of getting their names on the ballot next year.

Based on an analysis of both petition and objection filings made available by the Maywood Village Clerk’s office, it appears that Travis may not make the ballot.

Both Moore and Featherston, Sr. filed objections claiming that Travis did not generate the minimum of 124 petition signatures required to run for mayor. Travis submitted fewer than four full pages of petition sheets. Each sheet allows for 15 signatures.

Featherston’s objection to Goodwin’s candidacy for trustee, on the grounds that Goodwin isn’t qualified to run because he would not have been a resident of Maywood for at least a year upon taking office, is also a serious challenge.

Johnson and the Maywood Visionary Party were challenged by  Featherston, because they both allegedly circulated nomination papers and a statement of candidacy containing “the title of and an office which does not exist [in Maywood] of ‘Village of Manager,’” instead of the title Village President, among other objections.

Both Moore and Featherston challenged Johnson on the grounds that the latter did “not file a receipt for the filing of a Statement of Economic Interests in relation to his candidacy with the Maywood Village Clerk on or before Dec. 19.”

In objecting to the candidacy of Spence, Moore claims that the attorney purports to be ‘nonpartisan’ on his nomination papers.

“Maywood elections are not ‘nonpartisan’,” Moore’s objection claims, but rather, partisan. Therefore, by filling as ‘nonpartisan,’ Spence “has failed to inform the relevant election authorities whether he is filing as a candidate of an Established Political Party, a New Political Party, or [as] an Independent and therefore they do not know how to list him on the ballot.”

In most of the objection documents filed by Moore and Featherston, dozens of separate challenges are lodged against each candidate in question, with most of those challenges dealing with allegedly invalid signatures and alleged problems with petition sheet circulators.

All 11 remaining objections will be heard on Jan. 3 inside of Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave., by a three-person local electoral board that comprises Mayor Perkins, Maywood Village Clerk Viola Mims and Trustee Melvin Lightford.

Perkins and Lightford, however, will not be allowed to sit on the board during hearings about objections to their own candidacies. In an interview Thursday, Perkins said that she’ll be replaced by a representative from the Cook County Clerk’s office and that another trustee will likely replace Lightford, but she didn’t know which trustee this would be.

School board seats challenged

Eight of the 10 people running for seats on the Bellwood District 88 school board face objections to their candidacies, according to Cook County Clerk records. Marilyn A. Thurman, Dorothy C. Smith, Juliette L Elliott, Maria D. Perez, Deborah L. Giles, April Falco and Lana Means all had their candidacies challenged.

Three people running for Broadview’s Lindop District 92 face objections. They include Victoria L. Arrington, Penny Williams-Wolford and Tanya D. Taylor.

According to the clerk’s office, no candidates running for seats on the District 88 and 209 school boards face objections. VFP


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F E A T U R E D  E V E N T 

Celebrate Kwanzaa with Afriware Books

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The event will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Keynote address given by TeQuila Shabazz of BE Black Academy | There will be music, shopping and fun for the entire family! Free. Donations accepted. Click here to RSVP.

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State Wants to Install Toll Lanes on Eisenhower Expressway, Will Host Meeting at PMSA on Jan. 25

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An illustration of proposed car pool lanes that the Illinois Department of Transportation wants to install on the Eisenhower Expressway. | IDOT

Thursday, December 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The idea has been discussed and put before residents before, but officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation recently provided community members with an update of their plan at a meeting held earlier this month in Oak Park.

According to a Dec. 16 Chicago Tribune report, IDOT is planning on adding “a fourth lane to I-290 in each direction between Mannheim Road and Austin Boulevard, which would bring the entire expressway to four lanes in each direction between Interstate 88 and Interstate 90/94.”

The Tribune reports that IDOT would convert the two center lanes along the portion of the expressway between I-88 and Racine Avenue into a “Hot 3+” lane designed for car pooling vehicles and buses, which would use the lane for free. Other vehicles would be charged a toll.

“Three traffic lanes in each direction would remain free for drivers,” the Tribune reports, before quoting an IDOT official who said that that “idea is to set a toll rate so you have a 45 mile-per-hour speed through there, minimum, so that is then a reliable trip. As we know, there’s days when the Eisenhower is quite unreliable.”

IDOT’s “proposed toll for ineligible cars using the HOT 3+ lane could run between 12 cents and 25 cents per mile, depending on the time of day.” Toll rates would be categorized as “peak hour, peak shoulder and off-peak,” officials said.

IDOT will host two public meetings on the Eisenhower modernization project. One will take place at Proviso Math and Science Academy, 8601 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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Maywood Native, Proviso East Grad Named Triton Soccer All-American

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Brandon Monteon (white shirt) competes against Milwaukee Area Technical College on Sept. 30 at Triton College. | Triton College 

Thursday, December 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Earlier this month, Maywood native and Proviso East graduate Brandon Monteon was named a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. With the honor, the Triton College men’s soccer player became Triton’s 219th student-athlete to receive the prestigious honor.

According to school officials, Monteon is the soccer program’s 21st All-American and the program’s seventh since 2008.

The freshman forward has been instrumental in Triton’s success on the field, leading the team to a 14-4 record this past season, during which he logged 19 goals, 19 assists and 57 points.

“Brandon is probably one of the best players to go through the program,” said Triton head men’s soccer coach Piotr Sliwa in a statement.

“He is a complete player which you could see by the stats. In addition to being a goal scorer, Brandon can also set his teammates and plays unselfish soccer,” he said. “He also can drop off into the midfield and defend. Brandon was double teamed all season and he still put up big numbers. I’m expecting a bigger year from him next year and hopefully he’ll lead the team to nationals and transfer out to a big D-1 program.” VFP

For more information on Triton College Athletics, click here or call Athletic Director Harry McGinnis at (708) 456-0300, ext. 3784. 

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Briefly: Maywood Sponsoring Free Tax Prep Service | 2017 Board Meeting Schedule Released | More

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Thursday, December 29, 2016 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

The Village of Maywood has partnered with the Center for Economic Progress, Proviso Township and the Stable Project, along with US Bank and PNC Bank, to provide residents with free 2017 tax help. Interested taxpayers can schedule an appointment, which will occur in February and March, now. Advance registration is requested:

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Maywood releases 2017 meeting schedule

The Maywood Board of Trustees has released its regular and Legal, License and Ordinance (LLOC) meeting schedule for 2017. See the full resolution here:

Regular meeting schedule for 2017 

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LLOC meeting schedule for 2017 

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F e a t u r e d  E v e n t 

PTMAN BREAKFAST & DR. KING PROGRAM

King in Grant Park

HOST: Bishop Dr. Reginald J. Saffo | 708-397-6944

WHERE: Canaan AME Church, Pastor Dr. Calvin Rice | 801 South 14th Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

RSVP here.

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