By Vee L. Harrison
It’s true. Chicago needs a change. The city has experienced the worse of its times over several decades including a rise in community violence, racial disparities, and currently, a massive amount of missing Black women that the media is seemingly sweeping under the rug.
What the city absolutely needs is more proactive citizens who fights for citizens’ rights. Chicago isn’t the only city that suffers from lack of justice. However, Chicago is the city that was blessed with William Calloway.
At the young age of 30, William Calloway is one that is putting in his work when it comes to civic engagement in Chicago. He’s a man that is on the move for justice, specifically for justice for African Americans on the South side, where he’s also from. Calloway isn’t afraid of being a change agent. He creates a new wave for the African American man in Chicago. A wave that he hopes others are brave enough to ride with him.
A few years ago, in addition to creating social change and diving into Chicago politics, Calloway developed Christainaire. Christainaire is a faith-based nonprofit founded by Calloway to help the people of his city with social justice rights and community support and protection. It’s just one thing he’s done as an immediate effort to get back to the root of the issues that Chicago faces.
“I do identify as a Christian,” said Calloway. “I’m rich in Christ. Rich in family. Rich in love. Rich in justice.”
Having that translate into community justice, economic development, and racial equality basically means that his non for profit is built on the same principals of who he is to his city. He’s a hero, if you will. At least that’s what his current actions imply. He’s known for social justice and standing for that in a city that is as torn as Chicago, means something.
“I’ve always been civically engaged. I’ve been like that since my adolescence” said Calloway.
Calloway explained that what compelled the activism led him to get more involved in Chicago politics. And when asked just how dirty Chicago politics were, in his opinion:
“It’s even dirtier than what you’ve heard,” said Calloway. “Whatever you heard about Chicago politics is really ten times worse.”
This is why Calloway took a major lead in cracking down the Laquan McDonald case in 2014. Laquan McDonald was fatally shot sixteen times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. This was all caught on tape, that authorities were refusing to reveal. That is, until Calloway took matters in his own hands, made some calls, worked with a journalist and lawyer to track down the tapes.
“I remember hearing on the news that the video existed of Laquan McDonald. The shooting was on Dash Cam. I started making calls and I was working with an independent journalist, Brandon Smith, who was also an expert in FOIA. We found documents and I told him about the tape and what it meant for the community and he agreed. He filed a FOIA request for the CPD to release the videos or deal with a lawsuit.”
His immediate and diligent action in the case gave him an opportunity to show the people of Chicago that there is hope and justice for the people. Calloway was proud to expose to the public what Chicago police had been trying to hide; the fact that Chicago police were killing our young black men, with no recourse. The city wasn’t having it. And neither was Calloway.
“We finally caught one of them,” Calloway said proudly. “He reached for a gun. This was undisputed. This young man was walking away, unarmed, and the first two shots took him down. The other fourteen while he laid there lifeless.”
It was important for Calloway to display justice in his city. Justice- a notion that several people never experience in Chicago, especially black people in underprivileged neighborhoods who face so much violence that could end their lives before the age of twenty. The case helped Calloway gain a name in his city.
“It added credibility in Chicago. We feel like a lot of our leaders don’t have credibility. The credibility portion helps people to unite,” said Calloway.
The story is and always will be a heroic Chicago tale. So much of a tale, that Showtime is working to release a Laquan McDonald documentary where Calloway will be one of the focal points in the documentary.
“The community knows the police are full of it. Now the rest of the world can see,” said Calloway.
Calloway explained that his community activism means a lot to him. And the only difference with him and several people in Chicago, is that he walks the walk – not only talks the talk.
“A lot of people in Chicago are distressed, depressed, and want change. I understand that,” said Calloway. “I take those feelings a step further and create action. I live to be a change agent in Chicago.”