Chicago Deposits $20 Million into Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association, the City’s Last Black-Owned Bank 

(Photo credit: Nancy Harty via blavity.com)

via blavity.com

The Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association (ISF) is the last black-owned bank in Chicago. According to CBS Chicago, Kurt Summers, the city’s treasurer, has decided to make a momentous investment in the bank. Summers announced Monday that the city will be depositing $20 million into the black-owned institution.

At the announcement, the treasurer called this investment his department’s first step towards addressing the city’s history of segregation, something that he claims is one of the root causes of the city’s current violence. So, what will this investment mean for the city? According to Summers, the contribution will increase the number of successful black-owned businesses in Chicago.”If we’re going to be serious about supporting those communities and supporting community banks and what they do for small businesses, we have to look for opportunities like this,” he said, Business Day reports.

When going to large, national banks, Chicago’s black business owners only receive the full amount of their loan requests 47 percent of the time. White business owners receive all the money they ask for 76 percent of the time. Summers hopes that this investment will give black small business owners some place to go to find funding for their endeavors. “The community banks are often more capable of evaluating the risks of local borrowers than large remote financial institutions,” said Summers.

This is only one of the changes Chicago politicians are anticipating following the deposit. Alderman Roderick Sawyer told CBS that he believes that this investment will help resolve the issue of economic disparity in Chicago, and, ultimately, even violence. Papa Kwesi Nduom, the chairperson of the Illinois Service Federal and Loan Association, agrees with him. Nduom said the deposit will give his bank a “much-needed boost to our financial foundation, ensuring that we can strengthen the economic base of our communities and help people fulfill their dreams.”

The black-owned bank has been providing services to the black communities of the South Side of Chicago for more than 80 years.

To read more: Chicago Deposits $20M In City’s Last Black-Owned Bank | BLAVITY

Common Brings Message of Redemption and Hope to Inmates at Folsom State Prison

Common (photo via bet.com)

by Kai Miller via bet.com

Fresh on the heels of kicking off his Hope & Redemption TourCommon is bringing his social activism to center stage. The “Glory” rapper recently paid a visit to the Folsom State Prison in California, where he treated the inmates to a concert in part with his Imagine Justice initiative.

Imagine Justice took to social media to share the photos of Common’s inspiring trip through its “Faces of Mass Incarceration” photo series. The photos capture the men captivated by the MC, smiling with raised fists as the Chi-Town native performed. Other photos show Common heading down to the crowd of inmates to greet them.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to connect with my brothers inside Folsom State Prison and perform for them to inspire them and spread a message of hope, redemption, justice, love and compassion,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post.

The multi-hyphenate star recently documented his four-day prison tour visits in a YouTube web series titled The Hope & Redemption Tour, giving viewers the opportunity to hear the heartfelt stories of the women and men facing lengthy prison sentences and what their lives are like behind the prison walls.

To see first in series, click below:

To read more, go to: Common Visits Inmates At Folsom State Prison

R.I.P. Dick Gregory, 84, Groundbreaking Comedian, Civil Rights Activist and Nutrition Guru

Dick Gregory (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

by Dennis McLellan via latimes.com

Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.

His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.

In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.

Dick Gregory runs for President (photo via latimes.com)

But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.

“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.

To read full article, go to: Dick Gregory, who rose from poverty to become a groundbreaking comedian and civil rights activist, dies at 84 – LA Times

Chicago Mother Keesha Hall Helps Moms Help Children With Special Needs Through Educare

Keesha Hall, Chair of the Educare Alumni Network (photo via essence.com)

by  via essence.com

Chicago-based mother Keesha Hall is changing lives for the better by helping moms help their kids.

After learning that her fourth child began showing signs of developmental disability, Chicago-based mother Keesha Hall changed her life for the better. After becoming unemployed, broke and on the brink of poverty, being a mother, she was determined to learn how to become a champion for her son. Through the help of non-profit organization Educare, she learned how to accept her son’s diagnosis and strengthened his social, emotional and behavioral health. This is her advice for young mothers who faced similar challenges and how she turned an unfortunate situation into a gift for many other mothers too.

To read full article, go to: Network: Chicago Mom Changing Lives | Essence.com

Obamas Pledge $2 Million for Summer Jobs, Apprenticeships for Chicago Youth

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via chicagotribune.com)

by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz via chicagotribune.com

Barack and Michelle Obama are donating $2 million toward two Chicago programs that provide summer jobs and apprenticeships, setting the stage for the coming Obama Presidential Center‘s mission to help employ and train South Side youth.

One Summer Chicago, which is the city’s summer jobs program, and the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, a collaboration of foundations and corporate funders focused on employment equity, each will receive $1 million from the Obamas. The former president made the donation announcement Wednesday when unveiling early design plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a complex with a museum, library and public park to be built over the next four years in South Shore’s Jackson Park.

While the center itself aims to boost employment in the community — through jobs, during construction, and once open, through youth-focused employment programming — “we can’t afford to wait four years to start working together,” Barack Obama told the audience at the South Shore Cultural Center.

He cited the city’s violence and the need to “reach young people who might be at risk if they don’t have something to do during the summers.””We want to make sure that some of those young people can get trained so people don’t say, ‘Why didn’t you hire anybody from the neighborhood?’ And the contractor says, ‘We didn’t have anybody who was trained.’ Well … let’s start the pipeline now, so that we can start getting some of those folks trained,” Obama said, according to excerpts of his remarks provided by his office.

To read more, go to: Obamas pledge $2 million for summer jobs, apprenticeships for Chicago youth – Chicago Tribune

Barack Obama to Hold 1st Public Event This Monday at University of Chicago

Former President Barack Obama (photo via chicagotribune.com)

article by Katherine Skiba via chicagotribune.com

Former President Barack Obama will speak to young people at the University of Chicago on Monday, returning to the city for what will be his first public event since leaving the White House.

Obama and young leaders will hold a conversation on civic engagement and discuss community organizing at the university’s Logan Center for the Arts, his office announced Friday. Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, he said.

The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at U. of C., and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. He gave his farewell address in January in the city that launched his political career. And the discussion with students lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said.

“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” an advisory said. Obama is expected to arrive Sunday, then depart Monday not long after the U. of C. event, the only public appearance planned.Less than a month after his term ended, Obama made a largely under-the-radar visit to Chicago on Feb. 15 to meet with several civic leaders to discuss his future presidential center in Jackson Park.

That visit was announced to the press with few details late that day, and he made no appearances before the general public or television cameras. This time, by contrast, the Obama team’s announcement of Monday’s event ensures it will get a higher profile, particularly because it comes a few days before President Donald Trump is poised to mark his 100th day in office on April 29.

This event is not being sponsored by the Obama Foundation, which leads planning for his eventual center on the South Side.”He’s really excited to go back to Chicago and have a conversation about community organizing and civic engagement,” Lewis said.No tickets remain for distribution to the general public, but the event will be televised. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany her husband on the trip, Lewis said.

To read full article, go to: Barack Obama to hold first public event since leaving office, Monday in Chicago – Chicago Tribune

14-Year-Old Cello Prodigy Ifetayo Ali-Landing Wins Coveted National Music Competition

14 year-old cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing (photo via blavity.com)

article via blavity.com

While most teens are consumed with navigating puberty, Ifetayo Ali-Landing is busy being a cello master. A student at the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute in Chicago, IL, Ali-Landing recently took home the coveted 1st place prize in the 2017 Annual Sphinx Competition.

Along with a $10,000 cash prize, the young prodigy will also have an opportunity to feature as a soloist with major orchestras and perform with the all black and Latino Sphinx Symphony Orchestra. This, along with a nationally-broadcast radio appearance on the prestigious NPR and PBS broadcasted talent showcase From the Top, the 14-year-old competitive musician is making her mark as a premier cellist.

Ali-Landing began playing the violin as a toddler before deciding to switch to cello at the age of 3. Since then, she has received numerous awards and performed in several showcases including the 2013 Friends of the IPO (Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra) Rising Stars Showcase where, at age 10, she recorded the 1st movement of the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor.

The performance of which went viral with over 53,000 YouTube views and 8 million Facebook views.

Source: This 14-Year-Old Prodigy Cellist Won A Coveted National Music Competition | BLAVITY