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Chicago Legend Oscar Brown, Jr. Receives Tribute

Lee Edwards | 10/16/2014, 4:20 p.m.
A historical tribute ceremony was held Oct. 10, at the Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., to pay homage to ...
Oscar Brown Jr

A historical tribute ceremony was held Oct. 10, at the Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave., to pay homage to the legacy of one Chicago’s most influential and multi-faceted native sons, the late Oscar Brown, Jr.

Born on Oct. 10, 1926 in Chicago, Ill., Brown was a singer/song writer, musician, civil rights activist, and playwright, who also ran for offices of the Illinois State legislature and U.S. Congress. Best known for his landmark album, Sin & Soul, Brown was a renaissance man who often times spoke publicly about the life and hardships of African Americans in America.

Oscar Brown, Jr., released his signature album, Sin & Soul, on Columbia Records in 1961.  After its release, Brown's status as a musical genius that spoke to the African American diaspora was solidified.

Oscar Brown, Jr., released his signature album, Sin & Soul, on Columbia Records in 1961. After its release, Brown's status as a musical genius that spoke to the African American diaspora was solidified.

“I knew Oscar Brown, Jr. I got to work with him on a couple of occasions and saw him perform many times and I think he is a south side Chicago, not just an icon but a cultural hero, who demonstrated how to be an individual while still being an integral part of a community,” said Jake Austen, Room Manager at the Promontory. “To anyone in Chicago that was striving to be different, striving to be creative, he was someone we looked to as a giant.”

Austen added that one of the Promontory's goals is to showcase “people who are treasures in Chicago” and to “celebrate the greats while they’re still around”.

In addition to the historical tribute event, Brown is also slated to have a street in the Hyde Park community named after him. Details have not yet been finalized.

“Oscar Brown, Jr. grew up in the Hyde Park area, his whole family lived there in the area and the historic value of all the creative and cultural things he did in the community we thought we thought we would honor him by having a street named after him,” said Carl McKenzie, president, Chicago Artworks, who has been working on having a street named after Brown. “It’s going to be a street named in Hyde Park, we’re not quite sure yet whether it’s going to be Harper or the street where Oscar lived on Woodlawn, he lived on 56th & S. Woodlawn Ave.”

When asked about the value of an African American male of Brown’s status having a street named after him in the city of Chicago, McKenzie described the historical relevance as “unmeasurable”.

Brown can be recognized with an honorary street thanks to the Honorary Street Name Ordinance, a municipal law being passed in 1984 by the Chicago City Council, that makes it possible for citizens who have impacted their community to receive a celebratory distinction on a city of Chicago street sign.

For more information about the Oscar Brown, Jr. tribute and street naming visit http://www.artworkschicago.com/.