After the parade, will Chicago still be 'a tale of two cities'?

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Story highlights

  • Priest urges World Series revelers not to forget the bloodshed on Chicago's South Side
  • "I think it's bringing the city together," barber says of first World Series win since 1908

(CNN)Chicago celebrated the first World Series championship of its beloved Cubs in 108 years with a procession Friday that started at Wrigley Field and ended in a massive rally at Grant Park downtown. Even the Chicago River was dyed Cubbie blue.

But the Rev. Michael Pfleger, an activist priest who has lived and worked for decades at Faith Community of St. Sabina, is urging revelers not to forget the bloodshed on the streets of Chicago's South Side.
    "Is the city going to be different when the last 'W' flag is flying and the last party has gone on in Chicago and we go back to normal and there will still be this tale of two cities?" Pfleger asked.
    When Cubs fans awoke to a new era Thursday after the World Series win, Pfleger posted a stark reminder on his Facebook page: "CONGRATS CHICAGO CUBS.....GREAT SERIES AND CLOSE OUT!!!!......but let's not ignore that while the celebration continues....6 KILLED and 15 WOUNDED since Yesterday......."
    There have been 632 homicides in the city so far this year, compared with 492 in 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune. Most have occurred on the West and South sides.
    "I know people say there were numbers in the '90s that were worse, but I don't remember the despair and the hopelessness and the anger that I'm seeing right now," said Pfleger, pastor of Chicago's largest African-American Catholic church.
    "I've never seen the distrust of the police like right now. In the community, there's just this real sense of abandonment."
    Pfleger said he's not discounting the importance of the win by the Cubs, who beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in extra innings Wednesday after a rain delay that forced groundskeepers to pull out the tarp at Progressive Field during an epic Game 7.
    "Generally people are happy for the city, happy for the Cubs," he said. "There's this great celebration but when the parade ends and the rally ends, we're still going to be in the same reality."
    Not all South Siders agree.
    Natalie Moore, a reporter for public radio station WBEZ in Chicago and author of "The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation," said the priest's viewpoint isn't shared by many residents of the South Side.
    "For most people, this is a Chicago win," she said. "There's an expression here, 'Chicago over everything.' This is a Chicago moment, not just a North Side moment."
    The fact Chicago is celebrating the historic victory does not mean residents are ignoring the city's deep-seated problems, Moore said.
    "The singular story coming out of Chicago seems to be a story of violence," she said. "And here's something that all Chicagoans can celebrate, and it's a glorious moment for the city. Every day people are working to make our neighborhoods better."
    Sunni Powell, a well-known South Side barber who was featured in the Spike Lee movie "Chi-Raq," said he believes the Cubs victory portends better times.
    "This is an opportunity for the city to have a little respite from the chaos," he said. "I think it's bringing the city together."
    A diehard fan of the South Side's own White Sox, Powell admitted he couldn't sleep after cheering on the Cubs in Game 7.
    "We were going crazy," he said. "Right after this we're going to go and elect a president and, after that, hopefully we can start fixing the city with some education and jobs for the kids."
    Pfleger said the sense of hopelessness in some pockets of the South Side is fueled by double digit unemployment, underfunded schools, soaring incarceration rates and gang violence.
    "For years and years now, we see the same issues," he said.
    But one thing is changing, he said. The violence has started to spread to parts of the North Side. In Chicago, blacks and whites live clustered in separate parts of the city.
    "Do we wait until the violence comes to our door in the North Side before we care about it?" Pfleger asked.
    "Or are we going to care about it because our brothers and sisters in the South and West sides are living in the war zone every day? I just refuse to be swept up in the moment and deny the reality beyond the moment."