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The Weeks | Jan. 22

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Flossmoor School District 161 Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, in Normandy Villa, 41 E. Elmwood Drive, Chicago Heights.

  • Find the agenda here.
  • Highlights: The board is expected to take action on the 2023-24 school calendar, staffing plan and district long-range plan. The board will also consider a contract to continue using Irons Oaks Environmental Education Center for outdoor education opportunities. 

Flossmoor Community Relations Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, in the committee room at village hall, 2800 Flossmoor Road.

  • Find the agenda here.
  • View the meeting virtually here.  Meeting ID 891 8628 0733, passcode 60422 or call 312 626 6799.
  • Highlights: The commission will discuss recommendations in response to the community forum held in October on police-community relations plus Black History Month activities and an April 1 new resident event.

Homewood Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the board room at village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

  • Find the agenda here.
  • Watch the livestream of the meeting here. Use meeting ID 980 4907 6232, password 830183.
  • Highlights: The board will honor public works employee Kirk Lindstrom on his retirement and witness the oath of office administered to three employees in administration and police positions. The agenda also includes a number of amendments to municipal code and fee schedules, plus an agreement to reimburse a Western Avenue homeowner for a garage that needs to be demolished in order to make water main repairs.

The Hazel Crest Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the board room at village hall, 3601 183rd Street.

  • Find the agenda here.
  • Highlights: In the regular meeting, the board will consider issuing a six-month moratorium on new certificates of occupancy for single-family homes. The move is in response to increasing numbers of single family homes purchased by non-occupants. In the administrative meeting prior to the regular meeting, officials will discuss a proposed annexation of the Calumet Country Club property on 175th Street, which was part of Homewood until 2021. The owner, Diversified Partners, is seeking to redevelop the property with a mix of uses, including warehousing, hospitality, recreation, agriculture and retail. 

Homewood Firefighters’ Pension Fund Board of Trustees will meet at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in village hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

  • Find the agenda here.

< THE WEEK

MLK Day of Service coverage
The Chronicle sent reporters to a number of MLK Day of Service events coordinated by the Flossmoor Community Relations Commission. Stories, photos and videos published so far include: 

Flossmoor officials, residents laud completed Berry Lane drainage project
Residents on Berry Lane and nearby streets have endured chronic flooding for years, but with the addition of bigger drainage pipes and a stretch of permeable pavement surface, there could be significant relief from the problem. Reporter Bill Jones talked with village officials and residents to get their reactions to the completion of the project that was started in May 2022. 

Signs offer information about the permeable pavers used on a section of the Berry Lane drainage project to help ease stormwater runoff. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Signs offer information about the permeable pavers used on a section of the Berry Lane drainage project to help ease stormwater runoff. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

H-F Park District hears from pickleballers
Pickleball enthusiasts addressed the Board of Commissioners twice in December, asking for more resources, and commissioners pledged to do what they can to meet the need.

D153 special ed teacher honored
The Homewood School District 153 Board of Education honored nationally certified special education teacher Laura Kozel at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The District 153 school board recognized Churchill School special education teacher Laura Kozel, second from left, a nationally certified teacher, who had the certification renewed. Offering congratulations are, from left, Churchill School Principal Sara Schnoor; Shelly Peck, school board president; and Dr. Scott McAlister, District 153 superintendent. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
The District 153 school board recognized Churchill School special education teacher Laura Kozel, second from left, a nationally certified teacher, who had the certification renewed. Offering congratulations are, from left, Churchill School Principal Sara Schnoor; Shelly Peck, school board president; and Dr. Scott McAlister, District 153 superintendent. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Homewood Brewing Company progress
The groundbreaking ceremony was held Dec. 2 for the construction of Homewood Brewing Company at 18225 Dixie Highway. Here’s a look at progress so far.

BLACK HISTORY

The Martin Luther King Jr. I learned about in my youth was the reassuringly nonviolent hero who preached love and unity. For a long time, I thought that version summed up the civil rights movement martyr.

There has been growing pushback in recent years about the nation’s tendency to focus on Martin Luther King Jr.’s aspirational, affirmative vision extracted from his “I Have a Dream” speech to the exclusion of his more radical, deeply critical challenges to the racism of American society.

The point critics are making is that if we see MLK as a Black leader safe for white people to admire, it’s because we’re ignoring much of his work.

This shift in focus is one reason learning about history is so fascinating. History doesn’t sit still. MLK is still the same saint of civil rights he always was, but learning more about his complex, courageous life, with his outspoken criticism of a system that perpetuated war and poverty, his leadership in disrupting that system, makes him a more compelling figure and one who is all the more relevant to our times.

Probably many of us have more to learn from MLK than we have.

New York Times columnist Ezra Klein opened his podcast on Jan. 16 with the observation: “the paradox of King’s legacy is that while many revere him, very few actually read him.”

I’m guilty. So my goal is to read at least two King books before his 2024 birthday observance. Klein’s guest, Brandon Terry, recommended readers unfamiliar with King’s writing start with “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” and “A Trumpet of Conscience.”

Terry also recommended a book I read last year, “A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History,” by Jeanne Theoharis.

As we head into Black History Month, I want to second Terry’s recommendation. Theoharis’ book challenges the stable assumptions in mainstream society about the people who brought the energy and vision to the movement and the sacrifices they made to earn the movement’s achievements.

In the introduction, Theoharis quotes civil rights organizer Julian Bond, who noted that the movement had been reduced to “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, then white folks saw the light and saved the day.”

But the movement was both broader and deeper than the superficial narrative we’ve inherited, and the stories of many of the most courageous organizers and activists have been overshadowed by the focus on leaders like MLK and Rosa Parks.

When there’s more to the story, it’s a good idea to keep reading.

I paid special attention to the fourth chapter, “The Media Was Often an Obstacle to the Struggle for Racial Justice.” Theoharis describes the habits of the biggest, most influential newspapers of the time to focus on violence and ignore the long, hard work of organizing and petitioning the government for relief from racist policies and social practices.

The media, she says, told only the part of the story that was comfortable for white people to read. That’s one reason someone like me formed an incomplete understanding of the movement. I took the media accounts and history books at their word.

As I’ve since learned, that’s rarely a good idea.

Theoharis says the Northern press was quick to criticize the South for its overt racism but slow to recognize the racism in the North, where editorial boards and columnists expressed surprise when Black frustration in Northern cities boiled over into rage and disruptive protests. The Black communities in those cities had been demanding change for years, but an ingrained myopia prevented journalists from seeing what was right in front of them.

Such obliviousness is something we need to guard against today, too, and “A More Beautiful and Terrible History” helped me commit to paying closer attention to to voices expressing uncomfortable or unpopular views in our community.

I’m grateful to Theoharis for helping me in my endless mission to chip away at the edifice of my own ignorance.

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