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The People's Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today

Noted Chicago writer and WGN 720 AM "Nocturnal Journal" radio host Dave Hoekstra celebrates the release of his latest book "The People's Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today" on Friday, December 18 @ Co-Prosperity Sphere (3219-21 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607) between 6 - 9 PM.


Dave was a 29 year veteran of the Chicago Sun-Times (he recently left his post in a buyout in 2014) and is considered a consummate newsman, oral historian, archivist and storyteller in the grand tradition of New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell ("Up In the Old Hotel"). In 2013, he won two Peter Lisagor Awards from the Chicago Headline Club and a Studs Terkel Community Media Award from the Community Media Workshop. On his 25th anniversary at the Sun-Times in 2010, Hoekstra told radio columnist Robert Feder, “Basically what keeps me going is the ability to make the unknown known. I love the sense of adventure and discovery that comes in our jobs. Always tell students about the Jimmy Breslin at JFK gravesite story — to paraphrase — how everyone flocked around the gravesite; Breslin wandered off in the distance to interview the gravedigger. That’s kind of how I approach my job. Don’t know how much of that remains in fashion, but I try to fight the good fight.”


The People's Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. loved the fried catfish and lemon icebox pie at Memphis’s Four Way restaurant. Beloved nonagenarian chef Leah Chase introduced George W. Bush to baked cheese grits and scolded Barack Obama for putting Tabasco sauce on her gumbo at New Orleans’s Dooky Chase’s. When SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael asked Ben’s Chili Bowl owners Ben and Virginia Ali to keep the restaurant open during the 1968 Washington, DC, riots, they obliged, feeding police, firefighters, and student activists as they worked together to quell the violence.
Celebrated former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Dave Hoekstra unearths these stories and hundreds more as he travels, tastes, and talks his way through twenty of America’s best, liveliest, and most historically significant soul food restau­rants. Following the “soul food corridor” from the South through northern industrial cities, The People’s Place gives voice to the remarkable chefs, workers, and small business owners (often women) who provided sustenance and a safe haven for civil rights pioneers, not to mention presidents and politicians; music, film, and sports legends; and countless everyday, working-class people.
Featuring lush photos, mouth-watering recipes, and ruminations from notable regulars such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown, and many others, The People’s Place is an unprecedented celebration of soul food, community, and oral history.


Details on the event:

This special event will feature the launch of the Chicago exhibit of Paul Natkin portraits from The People's Place. Paul has been one of the most sought-out portrait and music documentary photographers and has contributed to such publications as CREEM Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, People, Playboy, Ebony and many others. His photographs have also been used by many local indie labels including Alligator, Delmark and Blind Pig. In 1988, he accompanied Keith Richards on his Xpensive Wino Tour which resulted in further work as tour photographer for the Rolling Stones.He recently had an exhibit of his massive portfolio at the Chicago Cultural center and is personally involved with various charity work including Farm Aid and Rock For Reading. He has previously worked with Dave Hoekstra on 2013's "The Supper Club Book: A Celebration of a Midwest". Tradition


Gospel crate digger William Luck will be spinning rare gospel records that reflect the civil rights movement.

William has recently released the LP "Saved And Sanctified: Songs Of The Jade Label" with the locally-based Numero Group label. According to their web site the album features . . .

"The rawest DIY gospel ever resurrected. The West Side of Chicago was just an annex of the deep rural South for Gene Autry Cash and his flock of recent Old Dominion transplants looking to cut their fiery, unadorned sounds indelibly to plastic. His Jade label absorbed those God-fearing artists: family bands with wailing children and barely amateur groups sourced from local parishes, infused with reverberations of country and western and deep soul. Glinting authenticity shines from every track like a diamond in the unpolished rough—each group completely convinced that salvation comes through song."

Opening reception, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 18 at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan. Free. After party with Joe Bryl spinning soul at Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar, 960 W. 31st.

Photo exhibit curated by Liz Williams, Southern Food and Beverage Museum, New Orleans. DJ William Luck music and reception broadcast live on Lumpen Radio (105.5 FM)


For more information on tis event contact Joe Bryl @

Earlier Event: December 15
Story Club South Side