CHICAGO (CBS) — Club promoters advise people to look around downtown Chicago – what’s missing?
The answer is that there are no African-American nightclubs, and there haven’t been any for years.
Some say the nightclubs have been pushed out and deemed not welcome on the scene. CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Wednesday night on a push to get the city’s attention.
A group of businessmen say now is the time to let Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Supt. David Brown know they’re fed up with what they’re calling a “Black Out” in nightlife in Chicago.
“John Legend, we brought to Sound Bar; Usher, we brought to Sound Bar,” said Asa Powell.
Booking top R&B and hip-hop artists has never been a problem for Powell, but the club promoter said when it comes to getting a venue in Chicago’s downtown entertainment district, that’s a different story.
“Simply because we do big Black events and we cater to mostly African-Americans,” Powell said.
Powell and businessman Teddy Gilmore are speaking out about the blatant racism and discrimination they believe is prevalent downtown.
“There’s a lot of tourism dollars in Chicago that flow through, and us as African-Americans, we want opportunity to have access to that,” Gilmore said.
Specifically, they want opportunity to have access to the nightlife.
Gilmore owned and operated the Nouveau Tavern on West Ontario Street. It was the only Black-owned establishment in the entertainment district until 2015.
Neighbors constantly called police about noise and fist fighting, and in 2014, several shootings occurred at other urban nightclubs. Gilmore said that led the CPD to focus on his business.
“One of the things that they’ve done is they’ve African-American businesses and find a way to shut them down,” Gilmore said.
“They have ran Black promoters and businessmen out of River North for over 20 years,” Powell said.
So as the nation focuses on racism, Gilmore said, “It’s time to seize the moment.”
There is now a push and march plan on Saturday to put an “end to Chicago nightlife racism.”
“Every club goer who’s been racially discriminated against at these nightclubs – they’re coming out to march,” Powell said. “They’re sick of it.”
That march will start at Chicago Avenue and State Street and then head to the Near North (18th) District police station at Division and Larrabee streets, where many promoters and businessmen say they feel the bulk of discrimination is spearheaded.
The march is expected to draw about 2,000 people.