Revolution #151, December 28, 2008

Correspondence from Chicago:

A Tribute to Beauty Turner

The phone rang early in the morning. I looked at the screen and it said “Beauty.” In the split second before answering it I knew Beauty was going to tell me about another kid shot by the police. She would want to get together and go to the site to investigate and call on the people to stand up. Or it was another outrage being done to residents—or former residents—of Chicago Public Housing. But when I answered the phone it was “Free” from Beauty’s Ghetto Gallery/Demo Kings Studio on Beauty’s phone. “Beauty had a stroke last night. She’s in Rush Presbyterian Hospital.”

Three days later Beauty Turner—in her own words, “a writer and a fighter from the bowels of the Ghetto—Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes”—died without ever recovering consciousness.

Beauty had a great love for the people and fought for them in the streets and with her pen. She worked to give voice to the voiceless connecting many from all walks of life with the basic masses in Chicago’s South Side ghetto. She told their stories in regular columns in several community papers. Her GHETTO (Greatest History Ever Told To Our People) Tours drew people from all over the country and around the world—giving them a chance to talk to people in public housing or driven out of it.

Her award winning investigative work exposed hidden facts about the suffering created by the destruction of much of Chicago’s Public Housing as well as the ongoing harassment and police abuse of those living in the Public Housing that remains. Her research with Sudhir Venkatesh is source material for academia.

Beauty hated oppression and the suffering of the people wherever she saw it. She was a regular speaker at anti-war rallies. And she recorded a PSA for last years protest on the anniversary of the launching of the war on Iraq. In commentaries on torture in Chicago she would remind people of the torture going on in Guantánamo as well.

Beauty never made the rupture to being a communist, but she was a fighter, and a writer, with a deep, abiding love for the people.

Beauty Turner, 51 years old, died on December 18. She will be sorely missed.

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