Neighbors Celebrate Family and Youth Peace Day

Along with my collaborator Gloria Smith of the Black Star Project, I am pleased to share an update from the 2019 Family and Youth Peace Day.  This project is one of eight projects the Chicago Peace Fellows collaboratively designed and supported to put our principles and insights into practice to build peace over the summer.


What has your team accomplished over the past two weeks?

There were over 200 people participating in the event on June 27! There were several organizations from Bronzeville involved. Chicago Cares coordinated the planning, Chicago Youth Programs on 54th and Prairie was the site of all activities, the Community Builders had a table offering affordable housing, Pastor Chris Harris of the Bright Star Church brought a bus load of youth from Kenwood, Cigna brought 60 volunteers who played games with young people, prepared lunch, and built five raised garden boxes. 2016 Ma’at helped with these projects and helped build planters while seniors from our asset mapping project came and participated. The event started at 10 am and ended at 3 pm.

All Bronzeville organizations described their programs and all present felt the event was successful.


What have you learned?

Organized groups that keep their commitments can be very impactful in very resource challenged communities.

What is coming up that's important?

In the coming week, we will begin installing block club signs and planning for additional Family and Youth Day celebrations. We need all the help we can get.

How can other Peace Fellows or the community support you?

As we complete our asset mapping and begin planning what the community wishes to see built in their community, some of GATHER staff may be helpful in creating the plan!!! If there are Peace Fellows or neighbors who have built housing or created community plans, they also could be helpful.

Reflecting on Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson

On Thursday, May 9, 2019, Peace Fellows Velvian Boswell, Robin Cline and I as well as Goldin Institute staff Travis Rejman and Burrell Poe attended the City Club of Chicago's luncheon with Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Superintendent Johnson stated crime in the City of Chicago is down since 2016 and attributed the decrease to 2000 new recruits since 2017, changes in command staff due to promotions and retirements, and upgrades to technology including a new Strategic Support Center.


In addition, the superintendent shared details on various neighborhoods and his plans for the summer. Peace Fellow Robin Cline stated, “I’d be interested in hearing more about the pilot program that kicked off in January in the 25th District where they hired 12 new District Coordination Officers.” Robin provided a link to an Austin Weekly article related to the new strategy which emphasizes problem solving through building and maintaining relationships within the communities.

Velvian Boswell shared:

[quote]“I’m glad he acknowledged that some of our residents, especially those in the African American community, have been mistreated. I wonder how many of the 2,000 recruits he mentioned were African American. I also wonder what he could have done to benefit the community with the dollars spent on the technology center.”[/quote]

When asked about his legacy, the Superintendent stated he wants all of Chicago to be proud of its police department. He also said he's hopeful for a more positive narrative about the city.

I wanted to hear more about the Superintendent’s plans for youth and ways to stem violence and promote peace over the summer. I think there should be summer jobs for every youth who wants to work. After leaving the luncheon, I went to the 35th Street CPD main office to work with a group that’s helping young people expunge or seal their records so that they can obtain work.