CHICAGO — Add a new 10-part radio series about one of Chicago's South Side neighborhoods to your podcast repertoire.
Set to release its third episode Tuesday, "Bronzeville" is a fictional series made by Chicago native Larenz Tate and fellow Hollywood actor Laurence Fishburne about the Great Migration.
The first episode was directed by Fishburne, who also stars as imprisoned Curtis "Eyeball" Randolph. West Side native Tate plays Jimmy Tillman, who made his way from the South to Bronzeville and finds himself involved in the neighborhood's "policy" operation, a gambling business that was the precursor to the modern-day Illinois Lottery.
"We don't get to talk about Chicago in this way," Tate said in an interview with DNAinfo. "It's great being able to tell a story about the South Side of the city in a community called Bronzeville, a predominantly African-American community that was self-sufficient."
Tate was "enamored" with the concept of "policy kings," people who ran neighborhood numbers operations who also served as "pillars of the community."
Tate and Fishburne pitched the idea of telling the story of policy kings and black Chicago during the Great Migration to television and movie companies, but nobody got behind it, Tate said. They decided to go with podcasts that gave them "the creative economy to tell the story that we wanted to tell."
The result is a sound-rich podcast that also stars well-known actors Tika Sumpter, Tracee Ellis Ross and many others.
The first episode sets up the characters and setting of the South Side, describing in detail the hustle-and-bustle around 47th and South Park, the boulevard known today as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
"There is continuous and colorful movement here," a narrator points out, describing shoppers going in and out of stores, insurance collectors doing their jobs and reporters for the pioneering black newspapers, Chicago Defender and Chicago Bee working on stories.
"It's important to show that now," Tate said about telling the history of black Chicago. "It's almost a forgotten story. A forgotten history. No one seems to tell that story. We should tell more of these stories."