Cabrini Green

“A Thrilling Drama that will Blow you Away”

“A Deeply Compelling Story of Survival and Truth”

” Brilliantly Complex Untold Stories”

A Film by Ron Simmons

The summer of 2003 at Seward Park Old School Monday evening at 6 p.m.

That summer a spontaneous reunion spurred a series of gigantic street parties for people who called the projects home. No plans, no permits, no problems.

In the summer of 2003 Lou Carter and Lawrence Green decided to organize a little reunion in Seward Park of friends he’d grown up with in nearby Cabrini Green. They joked that they had to hurry because the neighborhood was changing so fast they might not be welcome anymore. Several Cabrini high-rises between Chicago Avenue and Division Street had already been torn down, part of the massive, federally funded plan for transformation the city launched in the mid-90’s.

Yet neighborliness and a sense of community were very apparent at the August 9, Old School Monday, even though many of the people who’d called Cabrini home had lived there after it became infamous. It was like a high school reunion.

All around him he heard people shricking with joys as they saw friends they hadn’t seen in years. There must have been 800 people on Hill Street, which dead-ends at Orleans across from Seward Park people who’d grown up in the row houses, the red projects, white projects and the old working-class black neighborhoods just north of Division. There were people who still lived in Cabrini and former residents who’d come as far away as Las Vegas and other cities. It was a hot, sticky night.

People were grilling hot dogs and ribs and chicken. Someone had set up a makeshift stage near Byrd elementary school, and a DJ was playing Marvin Gaye, Isley Brothers, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Chaka Khan, Major Lance, The Chi-Lites, Gladys Knight, Five Stairsteps and The Admirations. In the middle of Hill Street at least 60 couples were dancing and steppin. The last day of Old School Monday there was over 1,500 people who attended.

Ronnie was there for all the Old School Monday’s. Seeing so many old friends he hadn’t seen in many years smiling, laughing and hugging each other. He saw young men who were in there after school programs and in their basketball tournament that told him that he was a role model to them and that he saved their life. Ronnie starts to think about the old days of living and growing up in Cabrini Green in the row houses he remembers when it all started.

People who lived and grew up in Cabrini Green, Ramsey Lewis, Jerry butler, Chaka Khan, Marvin Yancy, Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance, Mary Alice, Jackie Taylor, Rick Stone, Tony Watson, Andre Walker, Eric Monte, Joel Hall, Jesse White, Terry Callier, The Admirations, Shabba-Doo, Robert Squirrel Lester of the Chi-Lites, Al Carter Youth Foundation, The Intelli-Gents, John Thompson, Elax Taylor, Marion Stamps, John Steven, Mrs Childs, Mrs Davis, Walter Burnett, Ken Dunkin and the list goes on true surprises.

Time period from 1957 to 1985.

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