America Beyond the Color Line: Streets of Heaven
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
America Beyond the Color Line: Streets of Heaven (56:00)
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., visits Chicago’s South Side in this revealing program, finding out what life is like for residents of notorious housing projects like the Robert Taylor and the Ida B. Wells. “What happened,” Gates wonders, “to the city of refuge my father’s generation sought in the North…where ‘the streets of Heaven were paved with gold’?” Confronting a culture of criminality, poverty, and despair, the film takes an unflinching look at the uncertain American dream for which one-fifth of black America still struggles. Distributed by PBS Distribution. Part of the series America Beyond the Color Line, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (56 minutes)
Chicago Projects: Culture of Despair (01:34)
The Robert Taylor housing project in Chicago, the largest Black community in America, is a symbol of poverty, crime, and hopelessness. The city of Chicago is tearing the down the projects.
African Americans in Chicago (00:54)
Since the beginning of the 20th century, African Americans have been drawn by the lure of prosperity in Chicago. Since Dr. King's death, the Black middle class has exploded. Abject poverty persists.
Social Ills of Urban Poor (01:44)
Both right and left political viewpoints fail to offer real solutions for Blacks to get out of poverty. In the infamous Robert Taylor high-rise, gangs rule and control the drug trade.
Robert Taylor High-Rise (01:37)
In the Robert Taylor high-rise, two elevators serve 1000 people. One elevator is broken, so Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. walks up 11 flights of stairs.
Dangers Housing Projects (01:09)
Families in the housing projects talk about the changes in the past 30 years. Today, it is dangerous to allow children to play without supervision. Drugs and crime are commonplace today.
Effect of Drugs on Families (01:05)
Over thirty years, a grandmother has seen the effects of drugs in the housing projects. Children grow up with addicted parents and are forced to raise themselves.
Public Housing: War Zone (02:09)
Once a model of public housing, the Ida B. Wells homes were completed in 1941. Today, the projects are more a war zone than a place to live. The apartments are infested with rodents.
Income Disparity (01:56)
A young man in a housing project works at Popeye's for $5.15 per hour. He takes home around $600 per month. A drug dealer in the same project can make $6000 a day.
Poverty and Unemployment (02:06)
A former drug dealer asserts that people could help themselves, but they don't. There are no managerial jobs open to men in the projects. In the Ida B. Wells homes, the weight of poverty is palpable.
African-American Great Migration (02:10)
The roots of Chicago's decline can be traced to the Great Migration of the 1920s and 30s. Over a million African Americans migrated out of the Southern United States to the North.
Waves of Migration from South to North (01:40)
The first wave of African Americans from the South aspired to a middle-class lifestyle. During WWII, a wave of rural migrants arrived in Chicago. Separation of the two groups was nearly complete. Clash trumped race between the two groups.
Rural Farmers Migrate North (02:31)
The second wave of African Americans did not fare well in the North, especially when jobs dried up . As rural framers, they did not place great value on education for their children. They moved into public housing.
Positive Black Role Models (01:29)
Strong leaders and positive role models have always been found in public housing where poverty is rampant. This segment features a positive role model who started a baton twirling club of young project girls.
Escape from the Housing Projects (02:14)
A young Black woman shares her story of getting out of the housing project to find a better life. Many Black girls do not think they will get pregnant. There are not enough people educating them about options.
Unsafe Sex and Pregnancy (01:24)
After having six children with no paternal support, a woman admits she did not think about getting pregnant or practicing safe sex.
Where Are the Black Men? (02:03)
One in five Black men is in jail, on parole, or on probation. Women raise babies with no help from fathers, brothers, or lovers. Many spend time in the Cook County Jail system.
Jails: Home Away from Home? (02:55)
A medium security prison block houses 121 inmates. Nearly 75% are in jail on drug-related charges. Jails are housing people who were on the street. Is that the purpose of jails?
Criminal Role Models (02:15)
An inmate is a repeat resident of the jail. On the outside, he sells drugs because it is fast money. As a child he saw men selling drugs and stealing. How could he aspire to anything greater? He had no positive role models.
Plight of African-American Males (02:25)
An inmate discusses the plight of African-American males. For one thing, they have difficulty asking for help. The inmate contemplates his age and his responsibilities. How can he prevent another term in prison?
Crime at Age Thirteen (01:58)
A young man in a pilot program explains his gang affiliations and when he got started. He gets caught dealing drugs at age 17.
Rehabilitation or Punishment? (01:12)
A pilot program costs three times less than keeping a teen in jail. The program operates at a 91% success level. Most Black youth lack a supportive family structure, and they seek "family" in the neighborhood gangs.
Jesse Jackson: Hope in the Inner Cities (02:04)
Jesse Jackson's message to inner-city Blacks is that hope is alive. Jackson says that a generation of Blacks no longer sees education as an act of defiance and no longer seeks ways to learn strengths to function in society.
Too Many Young Black Men in Jail (01:47)
Today, there are about 900,000 young Black men in jail and 650,000 in college. Those in jail seldom have adequate legal representation. Jesse Jackson's childhood included a family, a church, and good communication between teachers and parents.
Power Through Education (02:19)
A small group of graduating students discuss the power that they believe education gives them. Despite all odds, a small number always transcends bad situations.
Education: The Way to the American Dream (00:52)
Racism, economic discrimination, lack of medical facilities, substandard schools, drugs, crime, and violence are still alive and well in the ghetto. Is it possible to replace this culture with one in which young people can live the dream?