Mayor Emanuel works to repair image in African-American community

September 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

This is just one of a series of initiatives the mayor has introduced to appeal to the African-American community.

If polls suggest the mayor's popularity among African-Americans has slipped, he's working hard to repair the damage.

The mayor began his day surrounded by African-American business leaders and politicians promoting a September 21st football game to benefit historically black colleges.

"This game is about the community. So the mayor supports it because it's an example of what you can do," said Everett Rand, Chicago Football Classic.

"Most importantly it's about the dedication we all have to making sure every child goes to college," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Minutes later, Emanuel proposed re-naming Stony Island Avenue in honor of a religious and civil rights leader, the late Bishop Arthur M. Brazier.

"Bishop Brazier is larger than life in the African American Community on the South Side. He's made tremendous contributions to our community," said Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th Ward.

"In my view the street naming is a small tribute for somebody who's done big things," said Mayor Emanuel.

After winning 59% of the black vote in 2011, worsening crime, unemployment and school closings have raised questions about Emanuel's image.

"More substantive work needs to be done as it relates to economic empowerment in our neighborhoods," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward.

Also this month, the mayor has promised a Whole Foods store in Englewood, delivered a bus line to the new Pullman Walmart within hours, and appears to have made good on a promise last spring to involve more black workers on the Red Line reconstruction.

"I don't know his political motivation if there is one behind it so I'm not going to speculate as to that," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward.

When asked if renaming a street to honor an African-American hero had political implications, the mayor answered this way:

"I'll leave that to the cynics. My hope is that people around the city take note of somebody who's changed our city," said Mayor Emanuel.

The Stony Island rename ordinance apparently has no opposition and the transportation committee chairman Alderman Anthony Beale says the council could vote on it within weeks.

ABC7's Charles Thomas was also told the name-change idea originated in the mayor's office.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.