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Other titles in the Voice of Witness series:
High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing (Voice of Witness)by Audrey Petty
Synopses & Reviews
In the gripping first-person accounts of High Rise Stories, former residents of Chicagos iconic public housing projects describe life in the now-demolished high-rises. These stories of community, displacement, and poverty in the wake of gentrification give voice to those who have long been ignored, but whose hopes and struggles exist firmly at the heart of our national identity.
"This book — which is part of McSweeney's Voice of Witness oral history series and which features a foreword by Alex Kotlowitz — chronicles the lives of 11 people who each lived in Chicago public housing at some point between the 1960s and the 1980s. Though some only lived in the projects for a few years, their accounts depict near-constant drug abuse and gang violence, exacerbated by indifferent law enforcement and racism. However, another common thread is community: nearly all of the speakers echo Donnell Furlow's declaration, 'My whole family is here and this is where I'm from. My history is right here.' Petty, who compiled and edited this collection, is careful to allow the subjects to speak for themselves; the only obvious evidence of editorial influence lies in the specificity of names and dates, documented in an appendix that reaches all the way back to the end of slavery to explain present-day circumstances. The book successfully avoids portrayals of physical or sexual violence for shock value alone, perhaps because the subjects have been desensitized after frequent exposure to it. The stories demand attention rather than voyeurism: though nearly all of the high rises themselves have been torn down over the last decade, the problems discussed in the book remain. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
High Rise Stories sheds light on the human cost of one of Americas most ill-conceived and catastrophic civic programs: the Chicago housing projects. As the buildings themselves are slowly being dismantled, leaving thousands of residents in flux, this issue is as critical—and underreported—as ever.
In these gripping first-person accounts, former residents of Chicagos public housing describe the consequences of relocation, poverty, and gentrification. Their stories of community and displacement give voice to those who have long been ignored, but whose hopes and struggles exist firmly at the heart of our national identity.
About the Author
Audrey Petty is an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Ford Foundation grantee, her work has been featured in Colorlines, StoryQuarterly, and Saveur.
Table of Contents
Among the narrators:
DOLORES, who, at the age of eighty-two, was hastily displaced from her home in Cabrini-Green after fifty-three years and forced to leave many of her belongings behind. Dolores depicts her communitys evolution over five decades, including her leadership in resident government, and her husbands mentoring of youth through a Drum and Bugle Corps.
DONNELL, who was initiated into gang life at the age of twelve.
A former resident of Rockwell Gardens, Donnell recounts growing up in an environment where daily life involved selling drugs, fighting rival gangs, and navigating encounters with a corrupt and often violent police force, as well as his efforts to turn his life around after incarceration.
SABRINA, whose sister was shot in the head in their Cabrini-Green apartment when she was caught in the middle of a turf-related shooting. Because ambulances refused to come to Cabrini-Green and the elevators were out of order, Sabrinas father and her then-pregnant mother had to carry her sister down thirteen flights of stairs to rush her to the hospita
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History and Social Science » Americana » Illinois