HoodHope: Struggle and the Power of the People
An interview with Real Deep, Founder and Director of HoodHope in Chicago
By Steve Craig, CAARPR Member
We’re speaking today with Real Deep, the founder and director of HoodHope, a storefront community center in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Real has become a strong ally of CAARPR and our Stop Police Crimes campaign. Hood Hope has been graciously hosting weekly Stop Police Crimes community meetings at the center. Hood Hope also serves as an organizing hub in the drive for an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).
Q: Could you describe the origins of HoodHope and your vision of its mission in the community?
Real Deep: HoodHope Movement’s headquarters used to be located on 61st and Saint Lawrence. Due to gentrification efforts by the University of Chicago, and the current alderman, Willie Cochran, as well as budgetary constraints, we were forced to vacate. Presently HoopHope meetings are being hosted at Farrell’s Barbershop located at 6426 South Cottage Grove.
HoodHope was founded by me, on October 10, 2010, as I sat in Illinois Department of Correction. At that time I had already been incarcerated for 11 years. HoodHope was created to unite all organizations for the common cause of Justice for All. Our target market is the Hood, a people lost and forgotten.
Q: What activities are you currently working on? Any up-coming events?
Real Deep: We are currently planning a fundraiser with Redline Movement, The Chicago Alliance [CAARPR], and the Chicago Hip Hop Legends to raise funds for a new community center. We also have a march approaching with the P.O.P.S Movement to celebrate their anniversary and bring awareness to the cause
We are also in the production process with regard to products such as clothing, music, toilet paper, body oils and various other products and services which will be utilized to generate revenue to maintain the Movement. These items will be promoting a positive message concerning justice.
Q: How has the community responded to your efforts? Are community members becoming actively involved?
Real Deep: The community is welcoming HoodHope with open arms. We have partnered with several organizations and recruited a lot of youth for the Movement.
Q: What kind of challenges have you had to face?
Real Deep: Two that come to mind are dealing with sellout preachers/pastors and puppet politicians. My only other obstacle is monetary concerns.
Q: How can people contribute if they’re interested?
Real Deep: Donations can be mailed to HoodHope Movement 650 West Englewood Ave, Chicago, IL, 60621, and electronic donation can be made at Rally.org at HoodHope Movement. These contributions will be used to open a new community center.
Q: You have recently become a staunch ally of CAARPR’s Stop Police Crimes campaign and the struggle for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) how did this evolve?
Real Deep: : I saw the CAARPR people on the street passing out CPAC literature and buttons, being the voice for the voiceless. I offered to share the spot I had with them for meetings. Our cooperative connection was immediate and Divine. My passion for justice and relationship to the community fuel a genuine dislike for tax-paid officials who are assigned to uphold the law but who actually break it. I find that despicable and absolutely unacceptable.
Q: Young African Americans from across the United States; from Ferguson to New York to Chicago and so on, are courageously and creatively leading the upraising against our racist system of police violence and terror, what have the young folks that you work with taught you about community organizing and fighting for justice?
Real Deep: I actually went to Ferguson Missouri and physically engaged in the protest concerning the murder of Mike Brown. What I discovered from the youth was that they are fearless and ripe to lead they simply require guidance and instruction. They are frustrated and desire something to believe in. What I have also learned is that community organizing is a process, not an event.
Q: Are there signs of increased community support for CPAC? Any ideas for future organizing?
Real Deep: I see interest in CPAC increasing. By connecting with HoodHope the fight for CPAC continues to cross age and racial barriers and erases the divisions of religion and class.
One of the recent successes of the Stop Police Crimes campaign was winning an eleventh hour release of Howard Morgan from prison by outgoing governor Pat Quinn. Mr. Morgan had originally been sentenced to 40 years on a bogus charge of attempted murder after he had been shot 28 times in an ambush by four white police officers. On Saturday, February 14 a coming home celebration was held for Mr Morgan at the Church of the Living God in Englewood. Over 100 people, braving the winter weather, joined the celebration. At the celebration the hard work of Alliance members and community supporters was acknowledged. The calls for CPAC resounded at the event, and the continuing fight for community control over the police was bolstered.
Q: When did you first hear about the Howard Morgan case?
Real Deep: As a youth growing up in Chicago I was swept up by my environment into a life of drugs, gangs, and prison. I was actually in prison when I heard about Howard Morgan. Such news was and is all too common but his story is extraordinary for several reasons, A) the fact that he himself was a police officer, B) the fact that all white officers shot him-obviously motivated by Morgan’s stance against corruption in the police department, and C) the amount of times he was shot, 28 times, signifies our GODS glory. 2+8=10 (1 GOD none after, one and zero.
Q: You were in attendance at the Coming Home Celebration for Howard Morgan. What were your impressions of the event?
Real Deep: I had the privilege of meeting Howard in person at a well-organized and well-received celebration on Valentine’s Day 2015. God was in the building as black and white, Muslim and Christian gathered together to recognize Howard, his blessings and sacrifice. This was truly the most touching moment of my life which has been filled with traumatic tests and dramatic dilemmas.
Q: What conclusions can you draw from this people’s victory? What can this mean for the community?
Real Deep: The victory of Howard Morgan’s release signifies the power of the people. It clearly demonstrates what the community can accomplish when unified and organized.
Q: How do you see Hood Hope and yourself of fitting into the struggle?
Real Deep: HoodHope is in fact the personification of struggle. Those who struggled for true liberation have always possessed a foundation of Hope
Q: Do you have any ideas on how to broaden the fight against police crimes in particular or, more generally, to further HoodHope’s community initiatives?
Real Deep: I see the expansion of the movement to challenge police crimes being through social networking, attracting more youth via affiliates like HoodHope movement and also getting involved in the Hip Hop community, by doing such we are crossing cultural, gender, racial and class barriers. Salute to CPAC.
Thanks, Real. We look forward to continuing to work at your side.
Come join us, learn about CPAC, get involved in organizing with the community to stop police crimes.
Contact: Real Deep 312.785-4182 or Frank Chapman 312.513-3795