When boarding the 69th Street Red Line stop I’m always greeted by the stately figure of a thirty-something black woman cast in bronze, gently braiding the hair of her adolescent daughter. As a black woman I’m immediately transported back to Sunday afternoons, when I would sit between my mother’s lap as she would comb, part, and twist my hair to be presentable for school the next day. The bronze sculptures, molded by Chicago artist Preston Jackson speaks to me and evokes deep and familial feelings. The stories of African-American life that artists such as Jackson depicts is what I’m most interested in uncovering. Art and artist have always played an integral role in African-American life and especially in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Excavating these stories is vital to fully tell the story of Chicago and the people that has shaped this city. The Bronzeville Neighborhood History Project seeks to do just that and this is why I’m proud to be a part of this project.
Being a full-time Inner City Studies and Art History major I feel as if this project is the perfect platform to be able to share with the community as a whole what I am learning. I’m originally from Toledo, Ohio, I came to Chicago about 3 years ago in search of fame and fortune through culinary greatness but that was not to be. There was another plan for me and it has been filled with enriching cultural experiences, self- revelation, and loving and beautiful people. With that being said, my Bronzeville experience comes vicariously through all those willing to share their memories with me. Through this project I hope to develop a story of Bronzeville that is personally my own, that I may one day share with an eager young researcher.