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Editor's note: The Reader is teaming up with Blvck Vrchives founder Renata Cherlise to create multimedia narratives of black life in Chicago. Cherlise's site offers "a curated visual journey through history."
“I wrote about what I saw and heard in the street,” Brooks said in a 1965 interview. “I lived in a small, second floor apartment at the corner, and I could look first on one side and then on the other. There was my material.”
In 1968's In the Mecca, Brooks highlight the horrors, triumphs, and tragedies of a rundown apartment building, while also offering historical context for the turbulent 1960s and Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by Brooks's poem, this audio slideshow uses Sun-Times archival photos that depict the hope of children living in some of Chicago's most underserved neighborhoods from the 1960s through the 1990s.
Photo credits: Rich Hein, Bob Black, John Friedah, John H. White, Al Poldgorski, Sun-Times Negative Collection