We all need an Albertine

Albertine Alexander, wife of MacArthur's Restaurant owner, died last week

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By Michael Romain

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Albertine Alexander, a longtime member of Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization and the wife of MacArthur's Restaurant owner Mac Alexander, died last week, according to an announcement released by NOMCO's executive committee. She was 74 years old. 

Albertine, in addition to her active membership in NOMCO — one of Maywood's oldest and most important civic organizations — was also a strong supporter of Village Free Press, a newspaper I founded in Maywood in 2013. 

Last week, people across the country were shaken by the announcement that the historic Chicago Defender newspaper would release its last print issue, which hit newsstands last Wednesday. 

While doing some research for this week's cover story, I learned how Robert Abbott, the Defender's founder and intrepid publisher, started the once mighty newspaper nearly 115 years ago. 

During the first five years of the Defender's existence, Abbott skipped meals and sacrificed news clothes and shoes and even train trips (opting to walk to his destinations instead), so that he could print the newspaper. He was mocked by people in the streets who thought he was kidding himself by sticking to the fanciful notion that a black man could own a newspaper. 

The Defender would not have endured those early days of struggle if not for people like Henrietta P. Lee, Abbott's landlady. When Abbott learned that he couldn't afford the rent to house his newsroom, Lee opened up her dining room to the fledgling operation. 

What Henrietta did for Abbott, Albertine did for me. She opened up not just her checkbook, but her heart, pouring into me strength and emotional support each time I encountered her. 

"You making any money yet?" Albertine would, in so many words, invariably ask whenever we saw each other. Invariably my answer was no. "Well, keep doing what you're doing. Eventually, you will. Your gifts will make way for you." 

Every young, black man, whatever his lot in life, needs an Albertine — someone who makes him better not by talking him down and focusing on his faults, but by quietly lifting him up through the sheer force of her positive energy and high hopes. Albertine made me want to live up to the expectations embodied in her wide, welcoming smile. I      was proud to make her proud. 

On Monday, Mike Rogers, NOMCO's president, said that Albertine "was absolutely instrumental to NOMCO since she moved to Maywood. She actively served on committees all the way up until her death. Both NOMCO and the community are going to miss her spirt, her energy and her inspiration."  

I second that. 

The visitation for Albertine Alexander will take place on Friday, July 19, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Corbin Colonia Funeral Home, 5345 W. Madison St. in Chicago. Her funeral will be on Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m. to noon, at Canaan AME Church, 801 S. 14th Ave. in Maywood. 

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com 

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