Preckwinkle, Silvestri Smokescreen Goes Down in Flames


Maze Jackson

With a hastily released statement and a suspension of the rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Peter Silvestri’s attempt to strip Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown of her position went down in flames.  Community activists, Black businessmen, and seniors descended on the May 11, 2016 Cook County Board meeting to let the Cook County Board of Commissioners exactly how they felt about Silvestri’s resolution.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was called "Pettywinkle" by protester?
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was called “Pettywinkle” by protesters (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

The meeting attendees were vociferous in their opposition to any attempts to disenfranchise Black voters in Cook County.  The resolution, sponsored by Elmwood Park Republican Commissioner Peter Silvestri,was billed as a cost cutting measure, not meant directly to target Clerk Brown.  Commissioners who asked to remain off the record acknowledged that Silvestri was acting at the behest of County Board President Preckwinkle, who has made no secret of her disdain of Clerk Brown, even going as far as having her removed from the Democratic Party slate of endorsed candidates.  Observers in the audience labeled the attack petty, as some even began whispering, “Toni Pettywinkle.”

The tension continued to mount prior to the vote and it was apparent that many of the Commissioner were nervous about taking such a the vote.  Shortly afterwards, Reverend Leslie Sanders,  community outreach specialists delivered a hastily worded statement placing responsibility for the resolution in the hands of the Chief Judge Timothy Evans and Commissioner Silvestri.  The statement read as such:

The proposal that the Chief Judge appoint the Clerk of the Circuit Court was initiated by Commissioner Silvestri, and not by my office. I was not informed in advance of Commissioner Silvestri’s intention to introduce this resolution. I am neither endorsing nor promoting it, and I met with and informed Circuit Court Clerk Brown of my position. The resolution will go to a Board committee for discussion and, in any case, this is not a change the County Board could implement on its own, but rather would need approval from the state Legislature.

Community leaders refused to accept the statement and demanded that “Pettywinkle” as they referred to her, oppose the resolution.  After the statement was distributed, the crowd became even more unsettled and became raucous, as Dorothy Brown sat quietly watching the who thing unfold.

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown watched the proceedings unfold (Photo courtesy of ABC 7)

When Preckwinkle took the podium she gave the floor to Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who immediately moved to suspended the rules, at which point (click to watch video)  Silvestri announced that he was holding the resolution in committee, at which point the crowd erupted with applause.  Cook County Board Commissioners, who often operate in anonymity were put on notice that they would be receiving the same scrutiny as the Chicago City Council, as shouts of “What’s in it for the Black People?” rang out from the audience.

The old Cook County Hospital is set to be redeveloped but the community wants to know, "What's in it for the Black People?"
The old Cook County Hospital is set to be redeveloped but the community wants to know, “What’s in it for the Black People?” (Photo courtesy of CBS 2)

Coincidentally, on the same day, the Cook County Board also passed a $375 million dollar bond deal to finance the redevelopment of the old Cook County Hospital.  Considering the County is using the same Black contractors who have been accused of  leaving the Black community out the last time the County Hospital was rebuilt, that scrutiny is warranted and will be intense.  Just listening to the audience, it does not appear that Target Group and Rite-Way Construction will be enough to satisfactorily answer the question, “What’s in it for the Black People?”

Jabari Dreams of Freedom Uses History to Address Today’s Issues for Children

Jabari Photo


Maze Jackson

By all accounts, I consider myself to be a pro-Black man, so I was somewhat skeptical of a play entitled “Jabari Dreams of Freedom” being produced by The Chicago Children’s Theatre.  How could the producers at the Chicago Children’s Theatre possibly translate the dreams of a nine-year old Black child, most likely from the South or West side into a stage play.  I wasn’t sure whether to expect an urban version of “Leave it to Beaver” or “Chi-Raq for Kids.”  After seeing the play my assumptions could not have been further from the truth. I not only found myself engaged and entertained, I also learned a few things about Civil Rights Era that challenged that I didn’t even know.

“Jabari Dreams of Freedom” is the story of Jabari, a normal tween who is living a normal life, until, like many Chicago children, he is forced to deal with an incident of violence.  As Jabari struggles to cope with the incident, overcome his fears, and the challenge of just going outside,  his parents are forced to confront the realities of living in inner-city Chicago, from the barrage on negativity on the news, to youth violence, and issues of police brutality.  Writer Nambi Kelly skillfully weaves historical events from the Civil Rights Era into a tapestry of modern-day situations, to illustrate lessons that can be applied to some of the tough issues that plague our community today.  Kelly does not shy away from some of the hard truths that our children must meet, instead putting them in context that even nine-year olds can comprehend (although this 45-year-old was completely caught up in the storyline).

Jabari, played by 13-year-old Philip Cusic (right), encounters a young Barack Obama (Gavin Lawrence) in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley. Performances are April 5-May 1 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. (Note: Philip Cusic alternates with another 13-year-old, Cameron A. Goode, as the title character in Jabari Dreams of Freedom.) Tickets: or (872) 222-9555. Photo credit: Charles Osgood

“Jabari Dreams of Freedom” reminds of so many Disney movies that my kids “force” me to go see.  While we go for them, I wind up thoroughly entertained.  Jabari is no different.  Young Philip Cusic offers us an early glance someone I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of, in his role as Jabari.  Leslie Ann Sheppard took me through a range of emotions in her roles as Claudette Colvin and practically stole the show with her portrayal of young civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.  Gavin Lawrence, who played Jabari’s dad, was absolutely hilarious as Baby Obama.   

“Jabari Dream of Freedom” is an exploration of  realities that face our young people in a society plagued by violence through the eyes of a 9-year-old.  The play uses comedy, drama, suspense, and inspiration to teaches kids and parents how to use lessons from the past to develop relevant solutions for today.

While I saw the play with an audience full of students on a field trip, this play deserves to be more than a school field trip.  This play should be a family outing that can be used as an opportunity for families open dialogue.  This play creates the perfect opportunity for parents to have the discussions we talk about among ourselves as adults.  Unfortunately, our kids don’t have a water cooler, so let the discussion begin with them around “Jabari.”

This is a must see play for your family.

I rate it 3 1/2 stars.


A review of the children’s play, “Jabari Dreams of Freedom.”  Ideal for ages 9 & up

Written by Nambi E. Kelley     Directed by Lili-Anne Brown     Music Direction by Jaret Landon

Playing now through May 1st at the Chicago Children’s Theatre.


Phillip Cusic: Jabari (alternates the role with Cameron)

Cameron Goode: Jabari  (alternates the role with Phillip)

Gavin Lawrence: Jabari’s Dad, Obama, Young Obama

Patrick Agada: Emmet, ensemble

Emily Glick: Jabari’s mom, ensemble

Matt Keffer: News reporter, ensemble

Leslie Ann Sheppard: Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, ensemble

(Click below to buy tickets)

What Men Said When Six Brown Chicks Asked “How To Love A Black Man?”


Maze Jackson



On Saturday, April 9, Six Brown Chicks hosted a panel discussion entitled, “How To Love a Black Man” at the Black Women’s Expo.  Moderated by Brown Chick Gina B., the panel feature six of Chicago’s most interesting Black men discussing what it takes for Black women to get and keep a Black man in today’s society.

Questions were submitted online via social media and live at the seminar.  The topics covered everything from who pays, to sex on the first date, to relationship roles.  Things got hot when the topic of interracial dating came up, and the brothers gave it to the sisters in the raw.  Sometimes things got a little intense, but overall, the men provided the women with real information, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

If you are looking for a frank conversation on Black relationships, this is a video you do not want to miss!



Black Women’s Expo Seminar- Racially Broke: Wealth in the African-American Community


Maze Jackson



Mistress of Ceremony, Helen-Crawley Austin moderated the panel entitled, Racially Broke-Wealth in the Black Community during the 2016 Black Women’s Expo.  The much-needed panel discussed and highlighted the lack needs of for Black people to put style over substance.  The panelists provided insights as well as offered suggestions for the attendees to get their fiscal houses in order. The panelists also gave event attendees advice on how to save money.

Are you tired of faking it until you make?  Watch this video and share with your friends.




#MazeSaid Podcast featuring Charles Thomas of ABC7 and Kim Foxx

Check out this episode of The Maze Said Radio Show and Podcast featuring Charles Thomas of ABC 7, where we interview Cook County State’s Attorney nominee Kim Foxx.

MidPoint | Maze Jackson discuss the latest on the runoff for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Jesus Garcia

Chicago political analyst joins MidPoint to discuss the latest on the runoff for mayor involving Rahm Emmanuel and Jesus Garcia. Could Emmanuel lose the election? What would have led to this sudden collapse? Is Chicago worse off than four years ago? What does this say about Obama’s influence in the windy city?

PeaceHardCoreRadio Interview with Maze Jackson

Check out our interview with Maze Jackson as we talk about police corruption and the streets of Chicago. Make sure you checkout Peace Hardcore Radio every Thursdays 5-7pm with NewSense and Femme Fatale on

Dan Proft Interviews Maze Jackson

On this edition of Against The Current, Dan Proft sits down with former Chicago Defender Political Editor and WVON Radio political commentator Maze Jackson to discuss race and politics and racial politics in Chicago and on college campuses. The two review the Laquan McDonald case in the context of the Chicago political power structure (that extends to Springfield). Which heads should roll? What should be done? Who is/is not representing the black community at present? Should Dan Proft be a creative consultant to #BlackLivesMatter? And might Maze Jackson be the first entrant into the 2019 mayoral race? Get all the answers on this installment of ATC.