Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cabrini Green: Where the Journey Began

Sport's fan...who hasn't watched an ESPN special or a documentary on the 'journey' of an NFL player and became an ever bigger fan or supporter of that player, that team, or the NFL in general. Nearly every one of those types of specials goes back to the places where the NFL player was born and raised, and viewers get a glimpse of the hardships that the player and his family faced and overcame as they continued on their road to success. Some of the hardships that the players face are growing up in sub-par school systems, broken homes, single family households, and some of the worst neighborhoods in the country. And when people see how these players rose above the adversity and eventually became professionals in the National Football League, you fall in love with the player...and the story!

Several of our Cabrini Connections' players who have followed a similar journey to many of the NFL players, have put their time, talents, and energy into documenting the place where their story begins. This place is also very similar, and by many, was and still is, considered one the most notorious housing projects in the country. This place is where many of our players were born and raised is the Cabrini Green Housing Projects!

This ESPN-like special -- which is very similar to an Outside the Lines segment -- was put together by several players (LaFaye Garth, Jonathan Summers, Kevin Stanfield, Kenneth Chatman) and the IYP position's coach (Rebecca Parrish). The title of this documentary is "Cabrini Green, This is What I Know." This 28 minute long video provides the fans a look at the place in which many of our players call home. By viewing this video the fans get a better understanding of some of the hardships that are players face on a daily basis, and after viewing this video you will become and even bigger fan of the Cabrini Connections' players and their journey!

Due to the great work that the players put into putting this documentary together, the players won the "Strongest Voice" award at the Raw Voices ; Teens In the Media Arts Festival last weekend for their documentary. See the movie trailer here And purchase the full video for $15 here .

Please support these amazing players by purchasing the video or by joining other true fans of Cabrini Connections in the Fan's Lounge.

1 comment:

Momof3 said...

A Christmas in Cabrini Green
(In Memory of Dantrell Davis)

Today, I would like to recall a Christmas in Cabrini that has been the crescendo of any

Christmas that I have experienced throughout my travels. For thirteen years of my life

I lived at 365 W. Oak St. which is one of the last “red” buildings left standing in Cabrini.

Every Christmas my mother Rosetta Ambrose would pull out the tree and all of the children

would reassemble it. Then Ma would play Christmas records by Nat King Cole, the Jackson’s,

Temptations, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Kurtis Blow and Bing Crosby. Simultaneously,

throughout the projects you could hear Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas’ blasting on the

radio. I always enjoyed the week before Christmas. I ‘d run home from school to watch all

the specials. I was especially fond of Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Speaking of school,

my two brothers and sister attended Richard E. Byrd and each school year we’d have a

Christmas and end of the year party. We’d also have a party in the recreation room of our


On Christmas day our apartment was always filled with plenty of egg nog, food and family.

Ham, turkey, macaroni and cheese, greens, candied yams, sweet potato pies, you name it and we

had it.

Ma shared with us how some of the Christmases that she experienced. Ma said that back

when she was a kid they were lucky to have a roof over their head and food in the refrigerator.

Ma said that she didn’t want her children to have to go through what she did. Ma said that

Christmas had become too commercialized and that the meaning has gotten lost over the

years. Nonetheless, every Christmas that we had was the bomb! We may not have gotten all that

we asked for but we got enough.

This particular Christmas in the early 80's, Ma heard from a neighbor that gifts were being

given away in one of the ‘white projects’ to children and Ma asked my older sister Karen and

I if we we’d like to go. My sister and I were very excited. We arrived at the building and

saw a line wrapped around the corner. In the bitter cold we stood for what seemed like

hours . At that time in my life I was a big fan of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. One Christmas

Ma bought me and my grab bag partner matching Mickey and Minnie Mouse watches.

My sister Karen was a big fan of Ken and Barbie. She owned their country town home and

some of the cars. As we entered the building, we were handed candy canes and I could

hear a man saying, ho, ho, ho and Merry X mas. When some of the children came out of

apartment they had large boxes and some of them had smaller boxes but the looks on their

faces were of pure joy. When it was our turn to enter the apartment the tall jolly man

dressed as Santa who had big brown eyes and a warm smile handed us two boxes

and said, ‘Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” My sister and I ran all the

way home without stopping to make angels in the snow. I shook my box but wasn’t able

to hear anything. I placed my box under the tree waiting anxiously for Christmas to arrive.

The night before Christmas as hard as I tried I could not go to sleep. I could hear Ma

and Dad assembling our toys and talking. I would pretend to have to use the bathroom

just to get a peak at what was going on. After a few hours, I didn’t hear anything so

I’d get up and go into the livingroom. My parents were fast asleep.

My brothers and sister were fast asleep. I looked for all of the gifts that had my name,

Doreen attached to them. I saved my gift from the brown eyed Santa Claus for last. Lo and

behold, it was a Minnie Mouse doll. My heart skipped a beat. I hugged her tight and never let

her go. Just as I have never let go the memory of that Christmas, Merry Christmas,

to all and to all a good night.

Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee