Austin saw some high points and unfortunate lows in 2008, from the senseless shootings of youth, which carried over from the summer and fall of 2007 into the new year, to a nearly year-long fight by community activists to bring a new high school to the community. The headlines of the Austin Weekly News were as diverse as the issues we cover in 2008.
Other notable events from the year.
Jan. 15 – 15-year-old Austin resident Yasmine Acree went missing from her home on Jan. 15, and has not been seen since. Her cousin is Rev. Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church, 1256 N. Waller. Family and friends continued the search for Yasmine into the summer and fall, vowing to find resolution in her case.
Feb. 5 – Rep. Deborah Graham won reelection during the Feb. 5 primary. Ald Ed Smith (28th) lost his bid to unseat incumbent Eugene Moore in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds race.
February – Civil rights attorney Stan Willis traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to monitor the proceedings of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, examining the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
March 2 – 15-year-old Kadeidrah “Dee Dee” Marsh was killed on the 800 block of north Waller while walking with her sisters as they were headed to their grandmother’s house. Shot by another young woman, Kadeidrah was a sophomore at Orr High School where she was an honor student.
March 6 – West Side resident T.J. Brayboy celebrated his 100th birthday. On Feb. 11, West Side resident Ruby Grier reached age 101.
March 14 – A farewell party took place for former 15th District Commander Al Wysinger, who was promoted to deputy chief of organize crime. Wysinger was reassigned with the 24 other district commanders after the hiring of Jody Weiss as Chicago Police Superintendent.
April 13 – The Garfield Park Conservatory celebrated its 100th birthday. The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most impressive conservatories in the United States.
April 12, The New Evangelical Bible Church along with The Phalanx Services, celebrated their grand opening at 4628 W. Washington. The multi-purpose complex is the Austin area’s newest property, offering a variety of services to the Westside community. An estimated 300 new jobs are expected to be created.
May 1 – Austin Weekly News interviews Mary Wallace, the first woman Chicago Transit Authority bus driver. She was hired in 1974 and retired in 2007.
June 5 – The Westside Health Authority intensifies its efforts to bring a new high school to Austin. Its Youth Freedom Riders testifies at the Chicago Board of Education meeting.
June 12 – Phillip Jackson, founder and CEO of The Black Star Project brought his organization to the Austin community in an effort to highlight the value of education. With the help of Westside activists, a door-to-door march took place in Austin, part of a national movement of black men rebuilding their communities.
June 30 – The first Catholic School on the West Side in 80 years breaks ground in Austin. Cardinal Francis George, Mayor Richard M. Daley and other community leaders attended the groundbreaking ceremony at 5058 W. Jackson.
Other notable events in 2008:
Barack Obama becomes the first black president of the United States.
Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge is indicted by federal officials on torture.
State Sen. James Meeks organizes a first-day of school protest in September, taking hundreds of students to a suburban school for enrollment to protest disparities in state funding for low-income schools.
A 16-year-old Austin girl is brutally raped in an alley Sept. 16. Her offender has never been caught, but a $10,000 reward was put up by an anonymous donor for his capture.
Our Community Mart, owned by pastor Bobby Butts opens at Cicero and Jackson.