Oscar Brown Jr honored with street naming ceremony in Hyde Park
On Saturday, May 30, 2015, starting at 10:00 A.M., there will be a street naming ceremony and tribute to Oscar Brown, Jr. at 5200 South Harper Street in Hyde Park.
Honoring Oscar Brown, Jr. for his work as composer, poet, performer and playwright comes almost exactly ten years after the Chicago icon passed away in May, 2005 from complications due to a MRSA Staph infection.
Brown’s life was spent in good part fertilizing the arts & music culture on the South side of Chicago, and specifically in Hyde Park. Brown staged musical shows at Harper Theatre doing SUMMER IN THE CITY (1967); BIG TIME BUCK WHITE at 54th & Blackstone where a church once stood; and through the years in the Bronzeville, Woodlawn as well as Englewood neighborhoods towards the end of his life. It is appropriate that a section of this street be named after this Chicago born prolific writer and entertainer.
Harper St. between 52nd and 53rd is where streets will be blocked off for a brief ceremony beginning at 10:00 A.M. on the Saturday after Memorial Day. With sponsorship from Southeast Chicago Commission, festivities will include a short program featuring Brown’s daughters (both vocalists) Maggie & Africa Brown, and comments from colleagues in the Arts world, and City officials. Thanks to the efforts of event producer and president of Artworks Chicago, Carl McKenzie, a resolution by Alderman Will Burns, Leslie Hairston and Mayor Rham Emmanuel, was presented to the Brown family last fall. “Now that the weather is favorable, the actual street naming ceremony may take place,” says McKenzie- also bringing Average White Band into Promontory on the same evening May 30th and an Artists Market on May 30th and 31st in the parking lot of Promontory.
Phenomenal writer, gifted entertainer, director and visionary, Oscar Brown, Jrs.’ humanitarian efforts were often not supported during his lifetime. He was always said to be “ahead of his time.” During this decade of retrospectives marking 50 years since the events of the civil rights movement; creation of the AACM here in Chicago; attention on the Black Arts Movement and the like; it is further apropos to cast attention on what Brown was doing decades ago. Now, today’s Hip Hop Rappers are free to be offensively outspoken, it is a shame, however, there are too few saying anything like what the original “Grandpa of Rap” was trying to teach long ago.
“So that’s where we feel we must come in, to keep his name and the message of his art alive,” says Maggie about holding up the mantel of continuum. “We are excited and so proud to have a street named after Oscar Brown, Jr.- where I personally grew up and where Dad did show business and developed his art right in Harper Court-is really an honor for our family.”