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Block Party Is Proof That Good Things Can Happen, Even In A ‘Mad City,’ When Young People Come Together

On a perfect summer afternoon in Hadiya Pendleton Park, songs were performed, kids played in bounce houses and it all came together thanks to Chicago youth.

Good Kids Mad City held a block party at Hadiya Pendleton Park Sunday.
Good Kids Mad City
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GRAND BOULEVARD —  A day after the massive march to draw attention to daily gun violence that plagues Chicago’s South and West sides, several youth-led anti-violence organizations hosted a celebration of community.

Organized by Good Kids Mad City, Team Enough and Chicago Strong, the day of fun was held Sunday afternoon at Hadiya Pendleton Park, 4345 S. Calumet Ave.

Good Kids Mad City was formed shortly after the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead in Parkland, Fla. But unlike other groups that were formed to focused on gun control, Good Kids Mad City is run by black and brown youth and aims to fight for resources in underserved communities.

Antonio Maggittee, 20, a Good Kids Mad City organizer, said the group has no desire to draw attention away from the Parkland survivors and their plight, but wanted the voices of those impacted by daily gun violence to be part of the movement. 

“We’re not saying the Parkland shooting does not matter or we don’t care about that but we are saying is that when we are talking about gun violence we need to pay attention to the black and brown youth in cities like Chicago where we are losing students and kids every single day,” Maggittee said.

The group is also working with youth in Baltimore who are tackling similar violence-related issues in their city.

Before the event, Good Kids Mad City organizers spoke with the parents of Hadiya Pendleton to get their blessing. Hadiya, 15, was fatally shot in the park that now bears her name in 2013. 

Nearly 100 children, teens and adults filled the air with laughter on the gorgeous Chicago summer day. Games, bounce houses, food, a live DJ, and more were made available to everyone free of charge. Several artists performed songs and poems throughout the day.

Maggittee said the block party showed Chicago youth what is possible when they come together.

“We want to bring some fun, a celebration to the South Side to show these young people just what we have, this is what we can do, if we stop the senseless violence,” he said. “We can have more moments like this and we’re just trying to have a block party to at least just for that day to not have a shooting or to show the youth that if we can get it together our communities can look like this.”

Although the name might suggest it, Good Kids Mad City does not have a connection to Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”

Maggittee said the name was inspired by kids who live in areas of the city that aren’t being acknowledged, and areas “that’s not being funded, being overpoliced.”

The mindset was these are good kids but our city officials and society in general has failed them and that they are growing up in a cruel, cruel world that doesn’t give them the resources to thrive and become good people,” Maggittee said.