This project began with the Negro Motorist Green Book. In looking at all of the places listed for Chicago, I became interested in what might be missing. I discovered a short article that mentioned the first house of worship in Avondale was for an African-American congregation and that led me on a long path of investigation into the history of Avondale and also into current attitudes about the neighborhood. The past and present are inextricably linked. As I talked to my neighbors and they told me this was the best neighborhood in Chicago, I could not help but feel isolated and struck by their acceptance of the status quo. It’s a good neighborhood, but it’s just okay. Until we deal with the persistence of segregation and displacement in Chicago, none of the neighborhoods will really be that great.
Rev. Dawson is a fascinating man whose life I learned much about through the research undertaken by my accidental collaborator John Cameron. In addition to John’s work I would like to thank Mo G (professional braider and loctitian), Anjali Pinto (photographer), Samaria Dixon (model), Bianca (photo shoot assistant), and Nikki Geslani. Additional thanks to all of my graduate advisors at SAIC, Dan Pogorzelski of Forgotten Chicago, Elisa Addlesperger, Anna Lisa-Cox, Gina from Threewalls, everyone who agreed to talk with me in the streets, my mom.
This program is made possible by Threewalls with a grant from Illinois Arts Council Agency, Alphawood Foundation, and Helis Foundation with support from Catherine Edelman.