Don't like to read?
Hundreds of residents of the North Lawndale neighborhood, located on Chicago’s West Side, gathered on the empty lot at the corner of Ogden Avenue and Homan Avenue to usher in the summer together on Saturday, June 4th. The occasion that drew them in was The Grace at Jerusalem Roots Festival, presented by local Pastor Marvin G. Hunter, his nonprofit organization Grace at Jerusalem CDC, and the Asher Lodge #139 P.H.A. Masonic chapter.
The festival drew in people from across the community of all ages who came to watch musicians perform on stage and enjoy the free barbecue. Native Mississippian and blues singer Willie Clayton soulfully performed a mixture of his original songs and classics from the past. The lead guitarist in his band lifted his guitar over his head and played an extended solo with his teeth as the group covered “Purple Rain” by the late Prince. Clayton changed the words of one of his songs in the middle of performing to freestyle encouraging lyrics to a baby who danced along to the music.
Chicago house music legend Farley Jackmaster Funk performed some of his hits as the crowd foot worked along to the electronic beats. V103 DJ Maurice “Ice Cold” Pepper and WCEV’s Marilyn Frizzle kept the atmosphere lively with their slow-jam mixes throughout the afternoon and early evening hours.
Pastor Hunter delivered an encouraging sermon to the crowd inspiring residents to make a difference in their community. He also demanded that the historically disenfranchised North Lawndale neighborhood get the proper representation and resources needed to combat chronic issues affecting residents. The concerns include poverty, drug abuse, and gun violence. This comes at a pivotal time in the history of North Lawndale after the resignation of 24th ward Alderman Michael Scott has left his seat in City Hall in contention.
Nineteen candidates so far have announced they are running to replace Mr. Scott and Marcus Betts, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Engagement at UIC, was in attendance at the music festival. Beverly Miles, Democrat and Illinois Gubernatorial candidate, canvassed the event speaking with residents as well as Mr. Sidney Moore, Illinois Secretary of State hopeful.
Coach Derek Brown, president and founder of North Lawndale-based violence prevention and youth development non-profit Boxing Out Negativity, took the stage to accept the lifetime achievement award from the family of late youth football coach Lattice “Baby” Bass in honor of him. Coach Bass played a key role in bringing youth football to the West Side of Chicago in the 1990s and helped to create a positive outlet that helped generations of young men avoid the streets throughout the years. Brown told the crowd Bass had taken him under his wing as a mentee at one point in his life and had inspired him to turn his life around and start his own youth sports program years ago.
Boxing Out Negativity has seen immense growth over the last year and branched out from a sports program into a violence prevention program. They employ North Lawndale residents to resolve conflicts in their own neighborhoods and help provide youth with much-needed resources and life skills through peace circle discussions.
North Lawndale residents were grateful to attend a much-needed fun, safe, and family-friendly event as the temperatures heat up along with ongoing gang conflicts and retaliatory shootings in the area and across the city.
Written by Justin Connor
Edited by Marrissa Kay
The Grace at Jerusalem Roots Festival: 6/4/2022
Block Club Chicago: List To Replace Lawndale Ald. Michael Scott Includes His Sister, Chief Of Staff
Images Courtesy of Justin Connor