As a member of this research project I want to share a little of my part in Bronzeville’s hidden history. I was a founding member of the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative. SCAI was the brain child of 4 creative residents of the Sutherland Apartments, located on the corner of 47th & Drexel. Malachi Thompson (musician, composer, band leader, writer) Esete Ray (photographer), Rita Warford (jazz vocalist and musician) and myself, Arlene Turner-Crawford (visual artist) were the initial crew. SCAI’s mission was to preserve, propagate and advance African American art forms and culture through performance, education and exhibition.
The founding members of SCAI believed that there existed a strong link between education, arts and culture. That the sounds, images and ideas that African-American artists create are concerned with preserving a heritage and tradition, while at the same time these creative efforts reflect and project our everyday realities. We also believed that when a people feel good about the contributions they make to society, they feel good about themselves. SCAI proposed to use the Arts to establish an ethical attitude towards human existence grounded in time-honored tradition, not just limited to the art world, but to be utilized by the greater community to help develop community pride, cultural tourism and economic growth.
I hope to expand further on this history with this project as well as, assist the participants in creating some more Bronzeville cultural history.