Footage for the documentary "Voices of Cabrini." Shot between 1995-1999, it documented the Cabrini Green redevelopment project proposed and carried out by the City of Chicago. This video records interviews and conversation inside George Robbins's barbershop at 456 W. Division Street. The tape also features a sobering monologue about gang violence.
0:11Copy video clip URL Open to a clock inside George Robbins’s barbershop. It is six pm. A man is getting his haircut. Robbins and him are in mid-conversation with another man waiting his turn. They are talking about children stealing from the collection plate at church.
2:22Copy video clip URL Pan to show the man waiting his turn. They’re comparing two people, but it is difficult to hear over the sound of a hair buzzer.
3:42Copy video clip URL It turns out they’re comparing Rev. Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. Robbins: “Farrakhan preaches separatism and Jesse preaches bringing people together…”
4:59Copy video clip URL The man getting his haircut says that, if people can’t agree with each other, then it’s best to go their separate ways. They continue to discuss the differences between Jackson and Farrakhan.
7:01Copy video clip URL The man getting his haircut asks the man waiting his turn: “Don’t you think, brother, that it’s time now–I’m 44 years old, okay?…What have we got for our vote so far?…It’s not getting us anywhere…” He suggests that there is an alternative to voting: “The American people…if they put their unity together…they don’t need politicians.”
9:24Copy video clip URL Robbins asks how it’s possible to unite the people without a political form. Robbins finishes the man’s haircut. At this time, the two customers are standing in front of the barber’s chair arguing with each other. The other man sits down for his haircut: “How are you gonna go out there to one of those red buildings and tell those boys not to sell drugs?” The first customer: “Through unity! I can’t do it alone!” Robbins wonders what role the minister will play in the scenario.
11:10Copy video clip URL The next customer maintains that the U.S. government is responsible for importing large amounts of narcotics: “Drugs are put here to control the people. That’s why Farrakhan can’t do it–not without Jesse [Jackson].” The first customer reiterates: “We can’t do nothing without unity!”
12:33Copy video clip URL Pan to a young boy. He was listening to the entire conversation and is shaking his head. Robbins: “We need all the forces together!…we have to get to the source of the importer of drugs in this country, and that’s our government…” They lament together over the presence of drugs in their community.
16:38Copy video clip URL First customer: “The first law of nature is self-preservation…there are some of us who try to go to school, try to get a job…but you got some [who have to sell drugs to get by]…if you take someone in a bad environment and put them in a good environment they will change overnight.”
18:09Copy video clip URL The second customer, who is now getting his haircut, explains that he did not get into drugs and gangs because of the influence of his grandparents: “What I want to do is help the people who want to change.” They talk about the power of education.
19:26Copy video clip URL A third customer enters the barbershop. He wears a jersey and a hard hat that reads: “Quantum.” As he walks in the customer getting his haircut says: “I’m talking about us getting together and having a community–this process [education] is going to give us the opportunity to do that.” They talk about the role of parents in the community.
22:11Copy video clip URL Camera pans down. The third customer has twin boys. One of them smiles and waves at the camera. Audio is again hard to hear.
23:52Copy video clip URL The customer getting a haircut recalls when a boy shot his van’s window out with a BB gun. The boy’s mother denied his involvement. They continue their conversation.
27:57Copy video clip URL The first customer pretends to leave. The others try to persuade him that the best way to curb violence is by speaking directly to the community’s children. Robbins: “What is positive to a gang banger might not be positive to everybody.” The third customer talks about Farrakhan and Reverend Jackson. Audio is difficult to hear.
32:32Copy video clip URL The third customer says it’s impossible to expect someone to change their circumstances when the circumstances make them so much money.
34:29Copy video clip URL Robbins describes the structure of the democratic political process.
36:08Copy video clip URL Robbins mentions Colin Powell refusing to run for president on a Republican ticket. A young boy takes the barber’s seat. Audio is hard to hear.
39:13Copy video clip URL Cut to the third customer waiting with his twin sons. He talks about his biography and moving out of Cabrini. Audio is hard to hear.
43:06Copy video clip URL The young boy’s mother picks him up from the barbershop. The interview with the third customer, wearing the jersey and hard hat, continues.
54:44Copy video clip URL The man’s son, seated for his haircut, appears upset. Robbins comments on the television. The second twin takes his seat for a haircut.
56:10Copy video clip URL The customers leave the barbershop.
56:37Copy video clip URL End of tape.