Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago

Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671004644
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 05/01/1998
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 195,081
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 660L (what's this?)

About the Author

LeAlan Jones attends Florida State University, where he is majoring in criminology. LeAlan is the National Junior Spokesperson for No Dope Express and has lectured across the country. His honors for the radio documentaries Ghetto Life 101 and Remorse include the Livingston Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the grand prize from the Robert F. Kennedy journalism Awards — the first time a radio program has ever received that honor.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2, The Hood

Our neighborhood is a fun neighborhood if you know what you're doing. If you act like a little kid in this neighborhood, you're not gonna last too long. 'Cause if you play childish games in the ghetto, you're gonna find a childish bullet in your childish brain. If you live in the ghetto, when you're ten you know everything you're not supposed to know. When I was ten I knew where drugs came from. I knew about every different kind of gun. I knew about sex. I was a kid in age but my mind had the reality of a grown-up, 'cause I seen these things every day!

Like when I was eight years old, my cousin Willy had a friend named Baby Tony and another friend, Little Cecil. They used to hang out — watch TV, go to the park and hoop, sell drugs. They all went to jail. When Baby Tony came out he was walking through the park when a boy lit him up and blew his face off. His face was entirely blown off. And then a couple of days later Little Cecil sold somebody a dummy bag of plaster from off the walls, so the man who was using it came back and asked him for his money back. Little Cecil took off running and the man shot him. And Cecil was dead. That was both of my cousin's friends that died in one week! And I heard about this when I was eight! I had just seen Baby Tony the day before he died.

It's like Vietnam. I remember one time I was over at my auntie's house spending the night. We were playing Super Nintendo and I heard this lady say, "I heard you been looking for me, nigger!" Then she just — BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! She let off about eight shots. Then I heard the other gun fire off. And we were just still there playing like nothing happened. In Vietnam, them people came back crazy. I live in Vietnam, so what you think I'm gonna be if I live in it and they just went and visited? Living around here is depressing! It's depressing! Just look outside — this isn't Wally and the Beaver!

- - - - - - -

It's Friday afternoon after school, and we're going to take you on a tour of our neighborhood. It's about sixty degrees today — feels good out. Walking down the streets. See an abandoned building, graffiti on the wall. See some little kids playing on a little shopping cart that they got from Jewel Supermarket.

Walking by some abandoned houses — looks like some Scud missiles just bombed them out. A lot of trash here — glass and things. Used to be little snakes in this field in the summertime and we'd catch them. People out here pitching pennies. Houses boarded up.

Walking through puddles of water. Bums on the street. An abandoned church. A helicopter. There goes somebody we thought was dead — guess he ain't dead.

By the old library, which is no longer in business — there was a murder in there last year and they closed it down. See a "Rest in Peace" sign. Birds flying. There's the store that they burned down when the Bulls won the championship. Going by the gas station where they sell liquor and food. Now we see some spray paint that says: "Justice for Rodney King/Revolution Is the Only Solution."

Now we're walking in the Ida Bees, which is 50 percent boarded up. Now we're by Lloyd's house. Abandoned apartments. Brokedown basketball hoops. We see little kids just sitting around looking at us.

Now we're walking in the parking lot where they play loud music in the summertime. Little trees growing up in the concrete cracks. See a trash dumpster and graffiti. See an airplane overhead. A bum walking down the street. We're walking through the ghetto. Our neighborhood.

Copyright ©1997 by LeAlan Jones, Lloyd Newman, and David Isay

Table of Contents

Preface by Dr. Cornel West


Introduction by David Isay

Author's Note

A Ghetto Glossary

Part I: Life — 1993

1. The Beginning

2. The 'Hood

3. School

4. Kicking It

5. LeAlan

6. Lloyd

7. Ghetto Getaway

8. Peace Out: 1993

Part II: Death — 1995

9. Messengers

10. The Scene of the Crime

11. From the Outside, Looking In

12. A Breakthrough

13. Juvenile Justice

14. Falling Through the Cracks

15. Both Sides of the Law

16. Shorties in the 'Hood

17. Closer Than We Imagined

18. Remorse

Part III: Life — 1996

19. The Maze

20. The 'Hood

21. School

22. LeAlan

23. Lloyd

24. Parting Words

25. Our America

Customer Reviews

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Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
JessicaC35 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Radio transcripts recorded by teenagers and turned into a nonfiction novel about the Ida B. Wells projects and the tragic death of Eric Morse. There are also pictures that accompany the content of the book. This disturbing look at poverty and racism in America wakes the consciousness of the reader. It also makes the readers question the culpability of the youngest murders in American history at the time. There are some graphic language and elements in the narration.
kajohnson on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book was a suggestion from a friend who teaches English outside of Chicago. It is one of her students' favorites. The storytellers are courageous innovators, and they share their truths and experiences honestly.
goldiebear on LibraryThing 7 months ago
What I really liked about this book is that it was told from a child's point of view. We hear a lot from people who have survived "the ghetto" or from people who have worked with people in "the ghetto", but I thought it fascinating to hear what a teenager who was actually experiencing it (not reflecting on it later. It was a good portrait of the neighborhood in the mid-'90s... I wonder how the story would be currently? Worse? Better?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent read. Very easy to understand yet hard to comprehend, unless you yourself live in this life style. It is hard to image what these 5th graders, Lloyd and LeAlan had to endure. It is a heart felt book this speaks the truth about what these kids had to go through everyday. Gives great hope and inspiration to those who live in similar situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
After my class and I read the book our America I was impressed. It had so much details and descriptions, it had so much details and descriptions, and it reveled so much about children and their life in the Chicago Ida B. Wells and about the tragic death of Erick Moorse. This book takes place in the life of two young boys that had been given a microphone and a tape recorder by radio station director David Isay with the propose of record and document their life and the tragic accident of Erick. These boys that the responsibility of speaking for their community and show the government how life in the Ida B. Wells is harsh and cruel. The book our America is a breath taking book I loved it I give it a four out of five stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Our America is about two boys LeAlan and Lloyd. The y both are best friends they hang out together and go where ever they want to go . They both lived in the South Side of Chicago in the Ida B. Wells
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Our America¿ by LeAlan Jones, Lloyd Newman, and David Isay This very interesting story was about two young boys living in the projects on the south side of Chicago. They experienced a lot of violence in their neighborhood that prevents them from escaping the hard streets. In this story they record fellow residents around their neighborhood to get their perspective of the ghetto life. This book is really good because some of the things that are talked about in this book may be happening in your life. You should read it. These boys 'LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman' are two of the few boys trying to make it somewhere in life, but with all the violence who knows where they will end up?
Guest More than 1 year ago
OUR AMERICA After reading Our America I was very satisfied with the story. Which talked about LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman living in the Southside of Chicago? That discuss about drug use, violence, and the death investigation about Eric Morse. This young boy¿s try really hard to find out what exactly went on the day of Eric¿s Morse death. They interviewed mostly everybody at the Ida. B Wells were this had happened. I definitely recommend this book because you learn many things that probably never experienced before e and also it becomes very interesting. This story surprised me in a lot of ways, because I learned many things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America Authors: Lealan Jones, Lloyd Newman With David Issay As a class my seventh period class read this book. This book describes two boys, Lealan Jones and Lloyd Newman, two boys who live on the south side of Chicago. These boys take a recorder with them throughout the city, and what they do in their day to day life. They talk about where they go, who they see, and a lot of other things. In the second part of Our America they talk about the killing of a five year old boy named Eric Morse. They talk about how they go to different apartments in the Ida B. Wells. They ask questions to see what people thought about the killing of Eric Morse. I thought that the book was great. In conclusion, I recommend that people go buy the book and read it , because you might learn something and it is GREAT!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about two boys LeAlan and Lloyd. They talk about everything that goes on in their neighborhood and also on how they are living. They live in the projects of the Ida B. Wells. What they say about the projects is that is bad. The projects is bad because there are usually a lot of drive-bys, people getting killed everyday, little kids in gangs and knowing about sex more than adults. Lloyd and LeAlan also talk about when these other two kids Johnny and Tyrone, threw a little five year old boy, Eric Morse, out the window of a fourteen story building. I think that this book is a really good book. This is based on true lives that happened here in Chicago. This is some what touching because of what had happened to the little boy and also of what people say about him. If you read this book I really think that you will like it and like to read it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America is the name of the book. It¿s a good book. It¿s about two boys in the ghetto. The ghetto is filled with violence and drugs. LeAlan and Lloyd struggled a lot until they started to record their daily life for a week. That¿s how they start to stay away form the violence and drugs in the neighborhood were they both live. Ida B. Wells is the name of their neighborhood. They started interviewing people to find out the story of Erick Morse who was dropped fourteen stories high they interviewed his family and friends and the family of the two kids who threw Erick Morse out the window. This book is great it talks about how people in the ghetto acted and how they live in the ghetto. I recommend this book to every reader out there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America is a very interesting book to read. I personally enjoyed reading this book and I would again. I can actually relate to the characters. Our America is about two boys who live in the Southside. These boys encounter a lot of violence, and one day they find out that two of their peers killed a little five years old! So what LeAlan and Lloyd do is go interview everyone who was involved with the crime and the family of the little boy who got killed. It is very interesting the answers of each individual, you¿d be surprised of what they all have to say. I would totally encourage you to read this book its one of a kind you can relate to it a lot specially if you live in how LeAlan and Lloyd like to call it the `Hood¿.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book ¿Our America¿ is about two teenage boys, LeAlan and Lloyd who are trying to succeed in life while living in a dangerous environment. Both Lloyd and LeAlan live in the Ida B. Wells, a dangerous and violent part of Chicago. Both boys are trying to accomplish putting the story out of Eric Morses¿ death, a five year old kid thrown out of a fourteenth floor window of an Ida B. Wells apartment by two other young boys. I thought this book was inspiring towards other people and also sometimes funny. I recommend this book and advise people to buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America/ Lealan Jones and Lloyd Newman/ with David Isay/Steve Jones Our America The book our America is about two boys that live in the Ida B. Wells. In which they talk about the life and death on the south side of Chicago. Lealan Jones and Lloyd Newman go interviewing people in there family and people that live in the Ida B. Wells also in the projects. In the Ida B. wells was a serious crime that two kids made there name were Johnny and Tyrone they through a five yr old named Eric mores out of the fourteen floors in the apartment in the Ida B. Wells. Lealan and Lloyd interviewed the family and the friends of the five yr old Eric mores that was through out the window. The news was all over America. This book is very interesting I wanted it to read it twice because I thought it was a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading the book our America by David issay, LeAlan Jones, and Lloyd Newman, I felt like reading the book again. The book is about two boys (Lloyd Newman LeAlan Jones) living in the Southside of Chicago discussing about drugs, gangs, violence, and the death of five year old Eric Morse While struggling with their own life conflicts. Even though they live in a bad neighborhood (Ida b. wells) they continue to strive their way out. In the second part of the story the two boys investigate the death of Eric Morse, but find something interesting. In the end I believe that this is a great book and if you haven¿t read this book you should get a copy now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America is a great book it is about two young African American boys who live in the ghetto. These boys are not thugs or gang members they are just ordinary kids living in a bad neighborhood. I enjoyed this book very much because it talks about the actual lives of people who live in the ghetto, and face challenges like the ones they went through. After reading the book I realized that the way wee live is some what similar to my life over here. That made me realize that they had it worse and I saw what they had to go through. Like the ¿shorty¿¿ who carried a gun and sold drugs. That part was shocking to me because that boy was very young..
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Our America¿ David Isay Lealan Jones Lloyd Newman I liked the book because it tells us about how Lealan Jones lived and how Lloyd Newman also lived. It talks to you about what they did every day. Also how they would be in the streets because in the South side there would be a lot of violence because of gangs in their city. Like Eric Morse he was just five years old when they threw him out of a window. By the fact that he didn¿t want to steal candy. Also like Lealan¿s sister she had a baby at a young age and had to take care of it and not go to school for education because she had to take care of the baby. I liked this book Our America because it is about two boys that lived in Ida B. Wells and had to deal with drugs, violence, gangs, and also fights at a young age. The book was so good I would read it five times that¿s how much I like it and I would also read it to my parents that don¿t know English and also my cousins.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jessica Diaz RLA 8th 12/20/07 Ms. Kerr The book called our America is now one of my favorite books I have read. It is about to boys named Le Alan Jones and Lloyd Newman who go around and ask people there opinion about Ida Be wells. Also they go around asking about the death of the death of a five year old boy named Eric Morse, who died when two boys threw him out of a window in a fourteen story building. I would recommend people it to people because it shows how people used to live and how hard is for them to live where there is a lot of violence in the neighborhood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book we read was Our America by LeAlan Jones, Lloyd Newman and David Isay. This book was about to kids LeAlan and Lloyd who knew each other since the first grade. When they got to 8th grade they were chosen to right a documentary from there lives living in the ghetto. They introduce us to the ghetto and the obstacles they face with everyday violence, drugs, ect. The worst thing was the death of Eric Morse that was killed by two kids. This book I really recommend reading this book. I give this book 5 stars it is very cool book to read for someone who likes action and drama but overall its awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our America is a book about two boys documenting their lives on the West side of Chicago. This book deals with violence and drugs in their community. LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman did an outstand job. Once I started reading this book I couldn¿t stop. LeAlan and Lloyd take you on a tour to their world and show you how they survived in a neighborhood like theirs. These boys also tell their fascinating story and share interviews of Eric Morse¿s death a five year old that was thrown out of a window of the thirteenth floor of the Ida B. Wells. So pick up Our America, this book will make you laugh, cry, and think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Our America written by David Isay, LeAlan Jones, Lloyd Newman it made me think, how would I have lived my life if I was living in the ghetto? This book taught me how hard it was for them. They struggled with many things throughout their life such as dealing with the death of Eric Morse. That leads to the second part of the book. It talks about how and who killed Eric Morse and how he was thrown out of a fourteenth floor apartment. This book was very interesting. I highly recommend you to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Our America,¿ is a book about two boys, LelAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, who grow up in the getto. The two boys both grow up in the Iba B. Wells were drugs, gangs and violence can be found just about anywhere. The two boys took up journalism to help them stay off the streets and away from gangs. The two boy would go around the neighborhood interviewing people for fun when they were in grade school. When the two boys were freshmen in high school, a boy named Eric Morse was throw out of a fourteen story window, so the boys decided to go and interview neighbors to see what really happened that day. When I first read this book I thought it was a very good book. I like how the story describes the points of view of the two boys on living in the getto. From a scale of one to five I give it a four, so if you¿re into these kinds of books I recommend Our America to you.