After the mayoral elections this month, Chicago will have had six citywide elections in the last six years. In that time, we've elected the mighty Harold Washington and elected or reelected to the City Council lamebrains such as aldermen George Hagopian and Sheneather Butler. By electing people such as John D'Arco, Alan Dobry, and Ed Kelly committeemen, we've given them an inordinate amount of power. If you love to talk about this kind of stuff, you'll love today's Guild Books free forum, Chicago Politics. Featured are Dave Fremon, author of Chicago Politics Ward by Ward; Abdul Alkalimat, author of Harold Washington and the Crisis of Black Power; and Jerome Scott, a former campaign staffer for Jesse Jackson. The madness starts at 7 PM at 2456 N. Lincoln. Call 525-3667.
When Wilson Goode became Philadelphia's first black mayor, his relatively peaceful election was constantly compared in the national media to the racial madness that surrounded Harold Washington's election. But the "City of Brotherly Love" is no oasis of racial harmony. According to Lamar Williams and Hugh King's documentary, Black and Blue, there have been more than 1,000 incidents of police brutality against minority citizens in Philadelphia in the last ten years--including Goode's order to bomb the MOVE house. This film makes its local debut at 8 tonight at Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont. Admission is $4, $3 to members. Call 281-8788 for more.
After photographer Roland L. Freeman heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, he dedicated himself to documenting black people's lives. Freeman's principal project has been the African-American diaspora, especially the migration from rural to urban areas. His work is being exhibited in Roland L. Freeman: Witness Documentarian, which opens today at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan. The museum is also featuring 'O, Write My Name' Harlem Heroes, American Portraits: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten and Black Photographers 1840-1940. The free shows run through March 29, and are part of the museum's Black History Month celebration. Doors are open 10 to 5 Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 Saturday. Call 663-5554 for more.
When Shirley Chisholm was elected to Congress in 1968, she was the first black woman to reach that office. The daughter of West Indian immigrants, Chisholm had been a teacher and the director of a day-care center. As a U.S. representative, she pushed through legislation that for the first time guaranteed the minimum wage to domestic workers, most of whom are black women. In 1972 she was the first African-American to run a national campaign for president. At the convention she drew 154 delegate votes and gave a fiery speech that called for women's and minorities' rights. She'll be the guest preacher at 10 this morning at Saint Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place. It's free. Call 483-4300 for more.
Legend has it that folks born under the sign of the snake (every 12 years) are romantic, deep thinking, and rich in wisdom and charm. Darwin, Lincoln, and Edgar Allan Poe were all snake babies. A free celebration of the New Year of the Snake begins at 11 AM at 1121 W. Argyle, complete with fireworks, a traditional lion dance, and a parade through the shopping district on Argyle. Look for holiday sales and special treats from merchants and restaurants along the way. Call 728-1030 for details.
Rock 'n' roll has been set free not just in the Soviet Union, but in Eastern Europe. Laibach, one of Yugoslavia's most popular pop bands, makes its Chicago debut tonight at the Park West. They're promising a tongue-in-cheek reinterpretation of songs by, among others, the Beatles ("'Across the Universe' as though it were sung by the Vienna Boys Choir"). Wagner meets glitter rock at 8 tonight at 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $15. For more call 929-5959.
Flannery O'Connor said that anybody who survived his childhood had enough to write about for the rest of his life. Born in the south and growing up in the Pacific northwest, Tobias Wolff did better than survive. He's the author of The Barracks Thief, In the Garden of North American Martyrs, and Back in the World. His latest book is his autobiography, This Boy's Life, and it's getting critical raves. Also a frequent contributor to Esquire, Granta, and Vanity Fair, Wolff will be making a 6:30 appearance tonight at Barbara's Bookstore, 2907 N. Broadway, where he'll read from his memoirs and autograph books. The reading is free, but the book costs $18.95. Call 477-0411.
The Law of Return, Israel's measuring stick for who is legally Jewish, may get a narrower definition if an amendment supported by the Orthodox community ever passes the Knesset. Who Is a Jew? is the title of the discussion slated for 7 tonight at the Florence G. Heller Jewish Community Center, 524 W. Melrose. A panel of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis will take on the controversy. Admission is $3, $2 for members; reservations are requested. For more call 871-6780.
Dance outfits, beadwork, finger weavings, wood carvings, and birch-bark and split-ash baskets are featured in Beacon Street Gallery's Woodland Indian Art Exhibition, which runs through March 10. Most of the items featured are for sale, some have been borrowed from private collections. On Saturday, February 18, Nick Hockings, who is Ojibwa, will talk at 2 PM about the Indian medicine wheel and conduct an Indian-dance workshop. The gallery, 4520 N. Beacon, is open Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. It's free. Call 561-3500.
During the campaign for recorder of deeds--normally a low-profile, low-prestige county post--Republican candidate and 50th Ward Alderman Bernard Stone kept challenging newspapers to print his opponent's picture, which would encourage racial bloc voting. But Carol Moseley Braun--the Democrat who won the job and the first black to hold a countywide office--wasn't ruffled by Stone's tactics. She ran because she'd been asked to by Mayor Washington, who had exchanged his endorsement of circuit-court clerk candidate Aurelia Pucinski for the slating of Braun. Braun will speak at noon today in a program titled Beyond the Dream: The Chicago Experience in Engbretson Hall on the campus of Governors State University, Governors Highway at Stuenkel Road in University Park. It's free. For more information call 534-5000, ext. 2122.
Although the work of Joseph Cornell was included in the 1936 Dada and surrealism exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, Cornell's reclusive nature kept him from becoming as well-known as his contemporaries Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. Cornell's constructions are idiosyncratic, informed by everything from literature to ballet to history, and are often combined with vials, sand, or moving elements--like mental puzzles. The Richard Gray Gallery, 620 N. Michigan, is showing Cornell's collages and box constructions through March 31. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5:30. Viewing is free. Call 642-8877.
The premiere of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf was inauspicious--it was just Ntozake Shange and some girlfriends performing at La Pena, a women's bar in Oakland, California. But the play went on to become a best-selling book, a PBS special, and a classic in modern black theater. Since then Shange has written several other plays, novels, volumes of poetry, and the introduction to Robert Mapplethorpe's Black Book. The multitalented Shange will read from her work tonight at 7 in the Illinois Room of Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Admission is $3, $1 for UIC students with IDs. Call 413-5070 for more.