Our America Life And Death On The Southside Of Chicago Essay Heading

On Friday, remember to go straight to the EPI-Center for a special talk by LeAlan Jones. Here is a short bio:

Mr. Jones is a freelance writer and journalist in Chicago. He began his career in journalism in 1993 at the age of 13 when he collaborated with his friend Lloyd Newman and radio producer David Isay to create Ghetto Life 101. This award-winning radio diary about growing up on Chicago’s South Side aired on National Public Radio. Jones and Newman spent ten days collecting stories on tape about their day-to-day lives; the stories ranged from throwing rocks at cars to a harrowing encounter with Newman’s alcoholic father.

Two years later Jones and Newman produced another radio diary called Remorse, which examined the horrifying murder of Eric Morse, a five-year-old living in the Ida B. Wells housing project in Chicago. Again, Jones collected interviews from members of the community to produce this Peabody Award winning radio documentary.

In 1996 Jones, Newman, and Isay together wrote the book Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago, which was based on the previous radio programs. Today Jones works as a freelance writer for N’Digo, a weekly paper in Chicago.

Jones’s mission is stated in Our America:

"We live in a second America where the laws of the land don't apply and the laws of the street do. You must learn our America as we must learn your America, so that maybe, someday, we can become one."
Here are some questions you might think about in advance of LeAlan's visit:
  • What stories would you collect that best represent your neighborhood?
  • What are some advantages in using radio to communicate ideas as opposed to visual arts?
  • Who gets to tell the story of your life, our lives? Whose voices do not get heard?
  • What might Jones mean when he says, “We live in a second America ...”?

When they were 13, Jones and Newman gained notoriety by telling personal stories of life in the poor, violent, and desolate world of Chicago's Ida B. Wells Homes in the award-winning National Public Radio (NPR) documentaries "Ghetto Life 101" and "Remorse: The 14 Stories of Eric Morse." Drawing from more than 100 hours of tapes unused in the original broadcasts, the now 17-year-old authors, with assistance from NPR producer Isay, have created a frank and provocative view of America's minorities from the inside out and bottom up. Scrutinizing life in their poor South Side neighborhood through the experiences of friends, families, and teachers, the authors reveal how disenfranchised from mainstream America the ghetto has become. Jones poignantly states in the opening, "We live in a second America where the laws of the land don't apply and the laws of the street do." A powerful, rousing message for all concerned readers.?Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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