Voices of Cabrini: Remaking Chicago’s Public Housing

Shot over a four-year period, this gripping documentary chronicles the demolition of Cabrini-Green from the perspectives of residents, community activists and local business owners.

00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars and tone.

00:52Copy video clip URL Intro credits.

01:40Copy video clip URL Intro text and speaker who cries out, “We shall not, we can not, we will not be moved.”

02:15Copy video clip URL “Voices of Cabrini” followed by protesters marching shouting “Cabrini Green is not for sale.” Mark Pratt, resident of Cabrini, stands in front of the Cabrini Green sign, pointing out that the vacant buildings are now the future of his community.

03:12Copy video clip URL A voiceover gives a brief history of Cabrini-Green as images of the community are shown.

04:29Copy video clip URL “I: The Politics.” Cora Moore, community organizer, speaks to a crowd of protesters outside 1161 N Larrabee. Mark Pratt says that one of the main reasons for the demolition is the value of the land.

05:19Copy video clip URL U.S. House Representative Bobby Rush speaks to community residents, saying that developers are “salivating because they want this land.”

05:40Copy video clip URL Ray Tores, Cabrini resident, speaks about the pending displacement and the challenges that this will create for local residents, many of whom do not have transportation, jobs, or family in the suburbs. He equates this to “dropping someone on a deserted island.”

06:50Copy video clip URL Text reads: “On February 22, 1997, the city of Chicago held a meeting to discuss redevelopment. Cabrini residents were not invited. They showed up anyway.” “We Shall Not Be Moved” is sung as people show up at the meeting. David Tkac, Special Assistant to the Mayor, speaks at the microphone to angry residents, who actively oppose his suggestions. Tkac seems frazzled as residents shout out in protest during his speech.

08:45Copy video clip URL Guana Stamps, community activist, explains that some of the buildings should be torn down because they’re not fit to be lived in. At the same time, she recognizes that when they tear the buildings down, “We will be there. Not the new rich folks. Not the multi-millionaires. But us. The poor, poverty-stricken people that has been here all the time.”

09:20Copy video clip URL George Robbins, local business owner of “Robbins Barber” talks about the potential move, saying “We’re just prepared for the worst right now.”

10:00Copy video clip URL Back to the meeting with the city of Chicago, John Stevens, community activist rouses the crowd, saying that “Nobody is going to push us around.” He then directly addresses the city representatives, saying that they didn’t ask the residents what they wanted prior to starting this tear down. Adrianne Bryant, city official, cuts him off, saying, “If you interrupt me while I’m in the middle of what I’m talking about, you won’t hear what I’m saying…” Stevens cuts her off shouting, “You interrupted a way of life over here!”

12:25Copy video clip URL “II: The Community” opens with various images and sounds of community life in Cabrini Green.

14:14Copy video clip URL Mark Pratt outlines all the family members who live in Cabrini along with him. His son Trevente Pratt speaks of the misconceptions that outsiders have of Cabrini. This is followed by images of kids playing in Cabrini. Trevente goes to get a haircut at Robbins Barbershop. Robbins asks him if he’d like to live in the new buildings. He says, “No. You can’t even see nothing. It’s fine when you just wake up in the morning, you look out the window and you can see a lot. It seems like you could just see the whole world.”

16:55Copy video clip URL The Havis sisters, residents of Cabrini Green, complain about the conditions of the buildings and also at the same time they talk about the fact that people don’t want to move from their community. They recall how it used to be a beautiful place to live.

18:40Copy video clip URL Robbins describes how Cabrini used to be part Black and part Italian and how they used to support each other.

19:55Copy video clip URL Mark Pratt stands on the playground, holding his baby, and vividly describes the first time he saw a shooting, which took place at that location when he was a child playing on the playground.

21:40Copy video clip URL Lively discussion in Robbins Barbershop between residents who are seeking solutions to the neighborhood problems.

22:35Copy video clip URL “III: Changes” Robbins receives a letter from his landlord’s attorney and reads the letter, which explains that his barbershop will be demolished as of August 6, 1997.

25:03Copy video clip URL Mark Pratt takes a tour down the street where the new developments are coming in. He explains that Cabrini residents are told that people will be relocated there, but he doesn’t believe it. He talks to one of the residents, who says that there are some Black people who live there, but can’t identify where they live.

26:32Copy video clip URL Mark explains to his son, who thinks he’s “quitting” that there’s nothing wrong with moving and wanting a better life for his family.

27:50Copy video clip URL Robbins removes the decorations and signs in his barbershop, which clearly have been hanging up for a number of years.

29:00Copy video clip URL “IV: Epilogue” Robbins works at his new barbershop on the opening day of business: October 21, 1998.

30:10Copy video clip URL Updates of Robbins, Pratt, and the continuing struggle for justice in Cabrini Green are shown on screen and roll into closing credits.

32:33Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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