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Crowd Gathers To Honor Bernie Mac With Street Name

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Bernie Mac Street

A portion of 69th Street in the Englewood neighborhood was renamed Bernie Mac Street Tuesday. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The late comedian Bernie Mac had a portion of 69th Street in the Englewood neighborhood, where he grew up, named in his honor Tuesday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Michael Pfleger were among those in attendance for the ceremony at which 69th Street heading west from Sangamon Street gained the honorary name of “Bernie Mac Street.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Mac’s own family was also present.

“I tell people all the time that my dad was my soul mate,” said Mac’s daughter, Je’Niece McCullough.

But Mac’s daughter says her father was as serious as he was funny.

“To just have his wisdom; have his love; have his laughter,” she said.

Je’Niece said her father used to tell her that she was his only child, and there were no second chances. He didn’t have any other kids.

She replied that he should go have some more kids.

“We’ll be all right, you can go do it. I swear I won’t me bad,” Je’Niece recalled telling her father.

Also in attendance was Mac’s principal at nearby Wentworth Elementary, Ms. Effie McHenry.

“I remember Bernie as Bernard McCullough,” she said.

McHenry said Mac knew at the age of 5 that he wanted to do comedy.

“He said he walked in his house and he saw his mother crying, and she turned on a comedian and started laughing,” McHenry said. “He said, ‘I want to make people laugh.’”

Rev. Jackson said the move to honor Bernie Mac should come with a push to improve the neighborhood where he grew up.

“I do want to say that we suggested we cannot stop with just naming the street,” he said. “We’ve got to build the houses on the street. And maybe the school should be named Bernie Mac School too.”

Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago in 1957, and began his career as a comedian on the South Side in 1977, when he was just 19. After becoming an international star on both the big and small screens, he died on Aug. 9, 2008, at the age of 50.

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