In a merging of movies with reality, Hollywood filmmaker Spike Lee led an all-star cast in a march for peace throughout the streets of Auburn-Gresham Fridaynight.
The director whose latest project filming in Chicago — “Chiraq” — has drawn criticism from several city leaders offended by its working title, headlined the annual end of the school year peace march of St. Sabina Church.
Taking the stage to rousing applause, Lee said: “I’d like to say, you look beautiful from up here. What’s up Chicago?”
“You know why we’re here — we all want peace in Chicago. Despite what you might read in the papers, I’ve gotten nothing but love from you, and I appreciate it. You make me feel very good, and have given us a lot of support,” Lee toldthe 500 or so area residents and members of community groups who turned out.
“As many of you know, we’re doing a film. We’re not going to say what the name of that film istonight. Leave that out. But you know, I didn’t make it up,” he said of the city’s Chiraq nickname, drawing laughter.
Lee brought a few friends along, including Chicagoans Jennifer Hudson and John Cusack, who both also addressed the community — Hudson in a brief, heartfelt plea on an issue that hit close to home, given the 2008 murders of her mother, her brother and her nephew.
“I’m a Chicagoan, and I’m here with my Chicagoans, alright? And we’re all here for peace, right? I want to hear you scream for peace, because that’s what we want, and that’s what we’re about,” Hudson said.
“Y’all, we gotta stop. We gotta stop the killing. We gotta stop the killing. That’s all I wanna say,” she then added tearfully.
Following Hudson, Cusack told the crowd they were all prophets.
“A Jesuit priest once said a prophet is someone who tells the truth, walks the walk, and pays up,” he said. “So everybody here by that definition is a prophet. The police are prophets. Everybody wants peace, and this city . . . has paid the cost.”
The three stars spoke on the steps of the Catholic church at 78th & Throop, following a children’s choir, inspirational song and spoken word, and pleas by former gang leaders, mothers of slain children, and the church’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger.
“This is our Selma! We thank God for those before us who refused to tolerate the evil of their day. The same must be true for you and I. The Edward Pettus Bridge of our day is violence in the city of Chicago,” a fiery Pfleger told the crowd before it started winding its way down 79th Street, led by Lee in a truck filming it all.
“Chicago Public Schools let out for the summer today and we will march for their peace everyFridayuntil October! The marchers 50 years ago made a decision to say, ‘No More!’ And that is my challenge to every single one of us here tonight,” Pfleger said.