Ron, the oldest of six, was born in Chicago and raised by his mother, a single parent, in many communities on the near north side, and finally Cabrini Green. He started as a Vista worker but would become a community activist & staff person with community based organizations such as The Intelli-Gents, a member of the North Central Community Committee, Chicago Federation of Community Committees, Near North Community Committee.
He grew up with music and famous people around him like Major Lance, Curtis Mayfield, Five Stairsteps, Chi-Lites, Admirations, and the Epsilons. His mother grew up with actress Mary Alice, Major Lance, and Chaka Khan’s mother. They are childhood friends to this day.
From humble beginnings and against all odds, he succeeded. He credits his success to his mother’s work ethic, his own “can do” attitude, and his unshakable determination to beat the odds.
He attended Northwestern University and Columbia College Chicago. His street smarts and people skills have uniquely equipped him to deal with issues in the corporate boardrooms, as well as ANY room you put him in.
Ron Simmons is an Olympian from the Olympics in Atlanta of 1996. His career in powerlifting would result in him becoming the World Champion Powerlifter in 1994, the 3rd Strongest Man in the World, winning 2 gold medals and receiving many other awards.
Ron has been called the Martin Luther King Jr. of Cabrini Green housing projects and a Cabrini Green Legend by legends like Mickey Miles and Miko Jones.
Simmons began his career in the late 70’s promoting club events. In 1976 he formed his company Starship Enterprise and went on to promote some amazing events. During the 1980’s, Simmons and childhood partners ruled the upscale club and event scene. His promotions drew enormous crowds, as well as some A-List recording artists and DJ’s. His unique promotional flair and charisma helped bring the glamour back to the black events. His promotions of artists like The Dells, Heaven & Earth, and Brighter Side of Darkness would fill the party room with people from everywhere. One of the biggest events that he promoted was at the Playboy Towers in Chicago.
Ron has received awards and recognitions over the years. The Community Service Award presented to Ron Simmons by The Chicago Federation of Community Committees and a Certificate of Appreciation presented to Ron Simmons, as an expression of appreciation for his outstanding contribution on behalf of the State of Illinois.
Ron started writing 21 years ago when he had time. He’d write a little here and a little there. Over the years, by writing concepts for music videos and learning from industry screenwriters, he made up his mind to start writing about his community. He felt that the media always reported bad things about his community, but it was so far from the truth. Self-taught, he learned many things from professionals, which put him in a place where his hard work would result in his new reality. Being a retired Social Worker has allowed him to work on his projects day and night.
As a promoter of music events, an artist manager, producer, and artists booking agent, Ron Simmons has been the man behind the scenes of some of the most celebrated names in the music industry for over 40 years. In the 80’s, he added an Entertainment arm to his company, Lynx Productions.
Lynx Productions managed, produced and promoted many artists and shows. He rubbed shoulders with a lot of well-known industry people and companies. He almost landed a record deal with the legendary producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and worked with labels such as Motown Records, LaFace Records, A&M Records, Warner Brother Records, Smash Records, and SBK Records. He also had the pleasure of working with such artists as Mavis Staples, The Dells, Art Porter Jr, Louil Silas, Chaka Khan, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Barry White, Gavin Christopher, Steve Silk Hurley, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Kirk Yano, Magnum Force, Brighter Side of Darkness, RJ’s Latest Arrival, Ghalib Ghallab, One 2 One, Sneak Preview, Julia Huff, Stan Stubbs, Bobby C, Anita Pettis, 3D Richard Davenport, Spike Rebel, William L. Johnson, Otis Clay, Sarah Green, Marshall Titus, Aaron Isaiah, Princess, Frank Collazo, Matizo, Lendell, Jeniqua, and the list goes on.
Ron also produced music videos and with George Tillman Jr. and Bob Teitel. Their credits include “Soul Food”, “Men of Honor”, “Barbershop”, “Roll Bounce”, “Notorious” and “The Longest Ride” to name a few.
GO BANG! Magazine: You have an extensive career in the Entertainment Industry. Unfortunately, no one would expect someone with your humble beginnings to reach the heights of success that you have. What made you different?
Ron Simmons: I THINK IT ALL STARTED WITH MY MOTHER. WE USED TO SIT IN THE FRONT ROOM AND LISTEN TO ALL KINDS OF MUSIC. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN THAT IT COULD TAKE YOU TO DIFFERENT PLACES AND MAKE YOU FEEL DIFFERENT THINGS. ALSO THERE WERE PEOPLE THAT MY MOTHER GREW UP WITH, OR THEIR CHILDREN, WHO BECAME FAMOUS LATER IN LIFE, LIKE MARY ALICE, RAMSEY LEWIS AND CHAKA KHAN’S MOTHER SANDRA COLEMAN.
AS TIME WENT ON, ANOTHER FRIEND OF MY MOTHER’S WAS MAJOR LANCE WHO LIVED WITH US FOR A SHORT TIME AT 220 W. ELM STREET. BEFORE WE MOVED INTO CABRINI GREEN HOUSING PROJECTS, WE ALWAYS LIVED ABOUT TWO OR THREE BLOCKS FROM THE HOUSING PROJECTSM, BUT IN THE OUTER AREAS.
THIS WOULD BE MY FIRST TIME MEETING MAJOR LANCE AND LATER I WOULD MEET CURTIS MAYFIELD FROM KNOWING MAJOR. I WOULD GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO HANGOUT WITH THEM A FEW TIMES AT THE OLD REGAL THEATER. I THINK THAT IS WHEN I REALLY GOT THE MUSIC BUG.
I ALSO WOULD HEAR ABOUT MY COUSIN’S “THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS” DOING THINGS, DOING SHOWS AND WORKING WITH CURTIS MAYFIELD. ALL OF THESE THINGS HAD ME ON FIRE.
BEING AROUND THEM YOU HEARD MUSIC ALL THE TIME. SO, IT WAS ALL OF THAT AND JUST BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE DURING SOME AMAZING TIMES WHEN THESE ARTISTS AND OTHERS FROM THE NEAR NORTH SIDE WAS ON THE RISE TO BECOMING SUPERSTARS.
I DON’T SEE MYSELF AS DIFFERENT, BUT A YOUNG BOY WHO WAS SOAKING IT ALL UP BECAUSE HE LOVED MUSIC. NOT KNOWING THAT IT WOULD INFLUENCE SOME OF HIS DIRECTION IN THIS FIELD.
GO BANG! Magazine: Growing up in Cabrini Green would be a horrible nightmare and terrifying to many of our readers, especially based on the media coverage it receives. Tell us about growing up in the notorious housing project.
Ron Simmons: MY FAMILY MOVED INTO CABRINI GREEN IN THE MID 60’S AND WE MOVED OUT IN 1985. THIS WAS THE FIRST FOR OUR FAMILY BECAUSE WE ALWAYS LIVED IN APARTMENT BUILDINGS.
IT WAS NEW TO US, BEING SURROUNDED BY SO MANY PEOPLE AND KIDS ALL AT ONCE. BUT, AS TIME WENT ON, IT BECAME THIS WONDERFUL PLACE OF COMMUNITY, FAMILY AND FUN. WE GOT TO KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE AND FAMILIES AS TIME WENT ON. THERE WERE CHILDREN EVERYWHERE. MUSIC WAS ALWAYS HEARD COMING OUT OF SOMEONE’S WINDOW OR FRONT SCREEN DOOR. WE DIDN’T LOCK OUR DOORS BACK THEN UNTIL IT WAS TIME TO GO TO BED. A BAND THAT WOULD SIT OUTSIDE, FOUR DOORS DOWN FROM WHERE WE LIVED, IN THE ROWHOUSES, WAS REALLY GOOD. OTHER SINGERS FROM DIFFERENT HIGHRISES IN CABRINI WOULD COME DOWN TO SING WITH THE BAND. THESE WERE SOME OF THE GOOD TIMES.
I THINK THE MEDIA AND THE POWERS THAT BE CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOU DURING THOSE TIMES. IN THE BEGINNING, MOSTLY WHITES LIVED THERE IN THE ROWHOUSES WAY BEFORE THE HIGHRISES WERE BUILT. THERE WERE SOME BLACKS, BUT DURING THAT TIME YOU COULD ONLY MOVE IN THERE IF THE FATHER WAS IN THE MILITARY. BUT AS TIME WENT ON, THAT WOULD CHANGE AND AS MORE BLACKS MOVED IN, MORE WHITES THAT COULD AFFORD TO MOVE OUT DID.
DURING THESE TIMES, THERE WEREN’T THINGS LIKE GANGS, DRUGS OR KILLINGS GOING ON, BUT YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS PLACE WOULD BECOME MORE OF A BLACK COMMUNITY THAN THE WHITE ONE IT USE TO BE. IT WAS CLOSE TO THE GOLD COAST AND DOWNTOWN. SO, IT WAS AN AREA KNOWN FOR THE RICH, SO IT WAS A CONCERN FOR THEM.
BAD THINGS STARTED TO HAPPEN IN CABRINI GREEN AFTER THE RIOTS IN 1968. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. GOT KILLED AND RICHARD DALEY SR WAS THE MAYOR OF CHICAGO. DIFFERENT PARTS OF CHICAGO IN BLACK AREAS WOULD GET BURNED DOWN AND PEOPLE HAD NO PLACE TO LIVE. BY THIS TIME, YOU HAD HIGHRISES THAT HAD BEEN BUILT CALLED “THE REDS” AND “THE WHITES.”
MAYOR DALEY WAS GETTING COMPLAINTS FROM WHITE COMMUNITIES STATING THEY DIDN’T WANT THOSE BLACKS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES. SO DALEY MOVED SOME OF THOSE BLACKS, FROM THE SOUTHSIDE AND WESTSIDE, INTO CABRINI GREEN. WITH THEM CAME GANGS, DRUGS AND KILLINGS. FOR THOSE WHO ALREADY LIVED THERE, WHO WERE NOT ABOUT THAT KIND OF LIFE, THEY FOUND THEMSELVES PROTECTING THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.
I HAD FIGHTS THERE THAT I WON. THE NEXT WEEK, YOU AND THE PERSON YOU FOUGHT WERE FRIENDS AGAIN. IT WAS OVER. I WOULD HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH GANG MEMBERS AT DIFFERENT TIMES. THEY WOULD TRY TO BE TOUGH OR TRY TO BULLY YOU, BUT I NEVER BACKED DOWN FROM THEM. YOU HAVE TO BRING SOME ASS TO TRY TO GET THIS ONE. I WASN’T AFRAID OF THEM AND THEY KNEW IT. THE ONLY PERSON I WAS AFRAID OF WAS MY MOTHER, AND SHE DIDN’T PLAY. I PROTECTED MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS FROM ALL THAT CRAZY NONSENSE.
I CAN STILL STAY THAT FROM THE MID 60’S TO THE EARLY 80’S, IT WAS A NICE PLACE TO LIVE. YES, SOME BAD THINGS DID HAPPEN THERE, BUT BAD THINGS HAPPEN EVERYWHERE. THE DIFFERENCE WITH CABRINI GREEN WAS IT WAS A PLACE THAT WHITES WANTED BECAUSE OF ITS LOCATION. 70 ACRES OF PRIME REAL ESTATE!
THINGS REALLY STARTED TO GO BAD WHEN RESIDENTS BASIC SERVICES SLOWLY STOP COMING OR STOPPED. THIS WAS PART OF THEIR PLAN TO MAKE FAMILIES MOVE OUT THAT COULD. MAKE THIS PLACE UNLIVABLE SO THAT WHEN THE TIME CAME TO TAKE THEM DOWN, WHO WOULD SAY ANYTHING? THEY WERE UNLIVABLE AND THE MAYOR, THE POWERS THAT BE, CHA, THE GOVERNMENT AND THE POLITICIANS KNEW JUST WHAT THEY WERE DOING. THEY HAD A PLAN FOR THE AREA THAT WOULD BRING IN BILLIONS DOWN THE LINE. THIS WAS PRIME REAL ESTATE.
CABRINI GREEN HOUSING PROJECTS HAD SOME STRONG PEOPLE AND GROUPS. THEY WERE STARTING TO NOT TRUST THE SYSTEMS IN PLACE BECAUSE OF SO MANY BROKEN PROMISES. THEY DID WANT THAT AT ALL, SO FOR THEM IT WAS TO TAKE PUBLIC HOUSING DOWN ON ALL LEVELS. THE PEOPLE LOST THERE AND ACROSS THE CITY. THERE WAS NO REAL PLAN TO RELOCATE FAMILIES. THEY JUST THREW THE FAMILIES OUT INTO THE STREET WITH A 90 DAY SECTION 8 VOUCHER TO FIND HOUSING. IF YOU DIDN’T FIND HOUSING WITHIN THE 90 DAYS, YOU COULDN’T GO BACK TO CHA. YOU WERE ON YOUR OWN. SOME PEOPLE FOUND HOUSING AND SOME MOVED TO OTHER STATES. STILL OTHERS MOVED IN WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND THOUSANDS ENDED UP DISPLACED. I BELIEVE THESE WERE CRIMES ON HUMANITY.
RON SIMMONS WAS A MEMBER OF THE INTELLI-GENTS, INC. ORGANIZATION:
The Intelli-Gents provided a myriad of services to the community of Cabrini Green. They were probably best known for their Truancy Follow-up-Program, Big Brother-Big Sister Program, and Tutoring After school and weekend Programs.
The Summer Basketball Tournaments, Cultural Enrichment program and through the Illinois Commission on Delinquency Prevention Program becoming advocates for youths that were adjudicated through the Cook County Juvenile Court System.
The Intelli-Gents also provided jobs, food & clothing assistance to area residents & finally provided assistance to the Cabrini Green Alternative High School the first of its kind in the nation. The Intelli-Gents was a driving force that keep a lot of things in order and saved a lot of young people’s lives as well as adults. The Intelli-Gents office was located at 515 W. Oak Street were there from 1976 to 1985.
IF I HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I WOULD, WITH A FEW CHANGES IN ORGANIZING..
GO BANG! Magazine: In addition to being a business man and community activist, you’re also a self-taught musician and singer. Please tell our readers about that chapter in your life.
Ron Simmons: IT ALL GOES BACK TO SEEING THE BANDS PERFORM ON THE STREET AND GETTING GUITAR LESSON FROM A MEMBER OF ONE OF THE BANDS. HIS NAME IS KENNY MITCHELL. I ALSO TAUGHT MYSELF TO SING AND PLAY THE PIANO BY EAR.
IN HIGH SCHOOL, I WENT TO THE MUSIC ROOM DURING BREAK TO PRACTICE EVERYDAY. I KNEW I WAS GETTING GOOD BECAUSE EVERY TIME PEOPLE WOULD HEAR ME SING AND PLAY, THE MUSIC ROOM WOULD FILL UP. SO, WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS READY TO COMPETE AGAINST OTHER ARTISTS I THOUGHT WAS REAL GOOD, I ENTERED TALENT SHOWS AT SCHOOL. I WON 1ST AND 2ND PLACE. I CONTINUED TO PLAY AND PRACTICE. I COULD PLAY JUST ABOUT ANYTHING BY EAR, BUT IT WAS JUST NOT ENOUGH FOR ME. ONCE I LEARNED SOMETHING, I WENT ON TO THE NEXT THING. BELIEVE THIS, I COULD HAVE BECAME BIG WITH MY SINGING AND PLAYING, BUT IT JUST WASN’T ME.
GO BANG! Magazine: You’ve always been the type of person that would be involved in community service. Why do you feel the need to help your community?
Ron Simmons: I STARTED AT AN EARLY AGE, 15 OR 16. I THINK IT COMES FROM MY GREAT-GRANDMA AND MY MOTHER. I SAW THEM ALWAYS HELPING OTHERS AND THOSE SAME PEOPLE HELPED ME. SO I GUESS IT’S ME PAYING IT FORWARD. IT JUST FEELS SO GOOD WHEN YOU KNOW YOU HAVE HELPED SOMEONE.
I HAVE BEEN THIS OUTSPOKEN PERSON FOR A LONG TIME, SPEAKING FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T SPEAK OR KNOW HOW TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. I’M WILLING TO STAND ALONE, IF NO ONE IS WILLING TO STAND WITH ME. I’D RATHER DIE ON MY FEET, THAN DIE ON MY KNEES.
I’M STILL AN ACTIVIST TO THIS DAY. FOUR YEARS AGO, I HELPED TO SAVE LOW-INCOME HOUSING IN A DOWNTOWN BUILDING. I SAT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OWNER. I EXPLAINED TO HIM HOW THEY USED GOVERNMENT LOANS TO BUILD THE BUILDING, WITH SOME LOW INCOME HOUSING UNITS IN IT, AND THIS OWNER HAD PAID BACK THE LOANS AND WANTED TO THROW ALL THE FAMILIES OUT OF THE BUILDING. I TOLD HIM THIS IS NOT RIGHT, NOR IS IT FAIR TO THE FAMILIES THAT HELPED YOU ALL BUILD THIS BUILDING. SO WE WON 15 MORE YEARS.
I CAN BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY WITH A SMILE. I LIVE, I LAUGH AND I CRY TOO. BUT I NEVER GIVE UP BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL AND THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE. I AM FIRE – EXCITING TO WATCH, BUT DANGEROUS TO MESS WITH. I CAN’T BE TAMED. I HAVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IN MY HEART THAT MAKES ME FIGHT FEARLESSLY FOR MY LOVED ONES AND FOR WHAT I BELIEVE IN.
LIFE TEACHES YOU HOW TO LIVE IT IF YOU ARE WILLING TO LIVE LONG ENOUGH.
GO BANG! Magazine: Being a business man with your own production company, Lynx Productions, you’ve managed to work with heavy hitters in the Entertainment game. Of all the “Ballers” you’ve worked with over the years, which ones were the most exciting, surprising, and memorable? Explain why for each of your choices.
(1) THE LESSONS LEARNED AT AN EARLY AGE FROM MAJOR LANCE AND CURTIS MAYFIELD
(2) GAVIN CHRISTOPHER – OUR TIMES RUNNING TOGETHER BACK IN THE 80’S, HANGING OUT AT THE RECORDING STUDIOS, THROWING IDEAS AT EACH OTHER. GAVIN WROTE HIT SONGS FOR CHAKA KHAN.
(3) HEAVEN & EARTH – ONE OF THE BIGGEST LIVE SHOWS WE PROMOTED WITH THEM AT PLAYBOY TOWERS THAT THEY EVER HAD.
(4) MICHAEL JORDAN – I MET MICHAEL JORDAN IN 1986 OR 1987, I DRESSED UP LIKE I WAS PART OF THE STAFF. I HAD NAVY BLUE PANTS AND A RED PULLOVER SHIRT. A LADY FRIEND OF MINES NEPHEW, WHO WAS ABOUT FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD, HAD ON ALL THE BULLS CLOTHES FROM HEAD TO TOE. WE WERE ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE PARKING LOT WHERE MICHAEL WOULD PARK AND CAME THROUGH THE DOOR. WE WERE THE ONLY ONES THERE AND MICHAEL WALKS IN AND I STEP UP TO HIM INTRODUCE MYSELF AND WE SHOOK HANDS. I ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD TAKE A PICTURE WITH MY LITTLE GUY AND HE SAID SURE.
(5) JIMMY JAM & TERRY LEWIS – WE MANAGED A GROUP NAMED “SNEAK PREVIEW.” WE ALMOST GOT SIGNED WITH JIMMY AND TERRY, BUT GOT BEATEN OUT BY THE GROUP “MINT CONDITION.”
(6) CHAKA KHAN – OUR FIRST BIG STAR! GETTING HER BOOKED FOR THE “TASTE OF CHICAGO”
(7) JOSEPH SIKORA (AKA TOMMY FROM POWER)
(8) 50 CENT – I HAVE BEEN FRIENDS WITH HIM SINCE 2014. JOSEPH IS FROM CHICAGO/SKOKIE AND HE IS THE ONE THAT INTRODUCED ME TO 50 CENT. 50 CENT WAS IN CHICAGO SO THE MEETING HAD BEEN SET UP. WHEN I GOT THERE, 50 CENT WAS SURROUNDED BY A LOT OF PEOPLE AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WAS THERE TO SEE HIM. I TOLD 50 CENT’S ASSSTANT THAT I COULD WAIT. HE SAID NO, I’M GOING TO GO GET 50 CENT. YOU WAIT AND SIT HERE. THE ASSISTANT WENT AND GOT 50 CENT. WE WERE INTRODUCED TO EACH OTHER AND TALKED FOR A WHILE.
AFTER 50 CENT LEFT, SOME PEOPLE WALKED UP TO ME AND SAID YOU MUST BE SOMEBODY REAL IMPORTANT. THEY STOPPED EVERYTHING AND BROUGHT 50 CENT TO YOU. IT WAS SURPRISING. I’M JUST A REGULAR GUY TRYING TO MAKE SOME THINGS HAPPEN, WHO KNOW SOME PEOPLE. THEIR ARE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN ME AND WHAT I’M TRYING TO DO. I’M JUST TRULY GRATEFUL.
(9) ALL OF THE OTHER ARTISTS WE BOOKED AND MANAGED.
WE JUST LIVED MUSIC AND MADE THINGS HAPPEN BEHIND THE SCENES. THIS WAS MY GREATEST GIFT. BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND MAKING THINGS HAPPEN.
GO BANG! Magazine: Currently, you’re in the process of completing an original feature film entitled “Cabrini Green: The Soul Story Of Stories!” It’s a brilliantly, thrilling and dramatic untold story of survival and truth. What inspired you to pursue this gigantic mission?
Ron Simmons: PART OF MY FAMILY ROOTS ARE HERE ON THIS NEAR NORTH AND BEFORE IS WAS EVER CALLED CABRINI GREEN, MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER CAME HERE FROM YAZOO, MISSISSIPPI WHERE SHE RAISED 16 CHILDREN. SHE NEVER WORKED A JOB, BUT OWNED THREE ROOMING HOUSES IN THE AREA, PLAYED POLICY, RAN MOONSHINE, AND WAS ON PUBLIC ASSISTANCE.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, I LOVED WHERE I GREW UP AT AND I LOVE THE PEOPLE. I WITNESS, I SAW, I HEARD AND I LIVED IT, SO WHO BETTER TELL YOUR STORY/STORIES THAN SOMEONE WHO LIVED THERE. THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY STORIES WRITTEN IN BOOKS AND DOCUMENTARIES BY PEOPLE WHO NEVER LIVED THERE OR LIVED THE LIFE PERIOD.
I HAVE TRAVELED AROUND THE WORLD TO OTHER PLACES AND OTHER COUNTRIES. IN SOME OF MY CONVERSATIONS, WHEN THEY FIND OUT I’M FROM CHICAGO, THEY WOULD ASK ME DO YOU KNOW MICHAEL JORDAN AND DO I KNOW THIS BAD PLACE CALLED CABRINI GREEN. MY ANSWER WOULD BE YES! THIS WAS MY OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THEM THAT I LIVE THERE NOW AND IT WAS NOT THIS HELL-OF-A-PLACE THAT THE MEDIA WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE IT TO BE.
THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY I PURSUE THIS MISSION OF GETTING THIS DONE. IT’S OUR LEGACY AND I WANT THE TRUTH TO LIVE ON FOREVER.
I ALSO REMEMBER WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE, BACK IN THE LATE 70’S, AT COLUMBA COLLEGE. IT WAS A GROUP OF US STUDENTS ON THE SEVENTH FLOOR LOUNGE, AT A ROUND TABLE. WE WERE JUST TALKING. NO ONE KNEW WHERE I LIVED OR CAME FROM. I DON’T REMEMBER HOW THE SUBJECT CABRINI GREEN CAME UP, BUT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE AREA LIKE THEY REALLY KNEW IT AND THAT THE THINGS THEY WERE SAYING WERE TRUE.
I ALWAYS SPEAK UP ABOUT WHERE I GREW UP AT BECAUSE MOST OF THE INFORMATION TOLD IS NOT TRUE…IT’S MEDIA DRIVEN. SO, I SAID TO THEM, “HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT INFORMATION IS TRUE?” MOST OF THEM SAID THEY SAW REPORTS ON THE NEWS AND HAD READ THINGS IN THE NEWSPAPERS. I ASKED THEM, “DO YOU HAVE FAMILY THAT LIVES THERE? DO YOU KNOW ANYONE THAT LIVES THERE?” ALL OF THEM SAID, “NO!” SO I ASKED THEM AGAIN, “ARE YOU SURE?” THEY SAID, “NO!” THEN I SAID, “I LIVE THERE NOW AND MOST OF THE THINGS YOU SAID ARE NOT TRUE.” THE LOOKS ON THEIR FACES WERE PRICELESS.
SO, THERE ARE MANY REASONS FOR ME TAKING THIS ON AND IT MUST BE DONE SO WE CAN TELL OUR OWN STORIES, RATHER THAN ALLOWING THEM TO MAKE US OUT AS SOMETHING WE ARE NOT… BAD PEOPLE.
YOU DON’T HEAR ABOUT ALL THE GREAT PEOPLE WHO GREW UP OR LIVED THERE, JUST THE BAD THINGS.
People who lived and grew up in Cabrini Green:
Ramsey Lewis, Jerry Butler, Chaka Khan, Marvin Yancy, Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance, Mary Alice (Actress), Jackie Taylor (Founder of The Black Ensemble Theater/Actress), Rick Stone (Actor/Artist), Retired Tony Watson (Rear Admiral of US Nuclear Submarine), Ripple, The Epsilons, The Master Plan, Andre Walker (Oprah’s Hairstylist), Eric Monte (Screenwriter for Good Times, Cooley High, What’s Happening, Sanford & Son) Joel Hall (Founder of The Joel Hall Dancers), Terry Callier (Songwriter/Artist), The Admirations, Gregory Hollimon (Actor), Shabba-Doo (Break Dancer/Actor), Robert Squirrel Lester (member of the Chi-Lites), NBA Pigeon Johnson, Al Carter-Bey (of the Al Carter Youth Foundation/Activist), The Intelli-Gents, Ron Simmons (1996 Olympics/Activist), Hubert Welch (President of the Intelli-Gents/Activist), William Gates (Hoop Dreams), Alexander Nelson (Vice President of the Intelli-Gents/Activist), Nate Jones (1996 Olympics), Mr. Elzy (Activist), John Thompson, Mr. Hubert Wilson (Band Director), Elax Taylor (Activist), Marion Stamps (Activist), Mrs. Childs (Founder of Talent Shows in Cabrini Green), Mrs. Ruth (Activist), Mrs. Jones (Activist), Mrs. Nash (Activist), Mrs. Davis (Activist), and the list goes on…
TONY WATSON MY CHILDHOOD FRIEND FROM THE CABRINI GREEN ROWHOUSES SHOULD BE IN THE HISTORY BOOKS. HE WAS THE FIRST BLACK REAR ADMIRAL COMMANDER OF AN U.S. NAVY NUCLEAR SUBMARINE
CHICAGO INFAMOUS HOUSING PROJECTS IN THE WORLD (THEY SAY)
FEATURE FILM CABRINI GREEN – “The Soul Story of Stories”
Story by Ron Simmons – ALL IN THE MAKINGS
MUSIC BY LEGENDARY ONAJE ALLAN GUMBS
The music soundtrack will be from famous recording artists from Chicago, the music will be a big component of the film.
THE CABRINI GREEN SOUNDTRACK IS GOING TO BE FROM SOME OF THESE AMAZING ARTISTS:
The music soundtrack will be a big component of the film. These are the artists that we will be looking at for the film soundtrack “Cabrini Green” that are from Chicago: Curtis Mayfield, Chaka Khan, Ramsey Lewis, The Admirations, Rufus, The Chi-Lites, The Five Stairsteps, The Artistics, Patti Drew, Quincy Jones, Jerry Butler, Major Lance, Donny Hathaway, Gene Ammons, Windy City, Smoke City, Terry Callier, Jackie Wilson, Garland Green, Gavin Christopher, The Staple Singers, Walter Jackson, Magnum Force, Heaven and Earth, The Epsalons, Mike Logan & Byron J Woods, Marshall Titus, The Dells, Ruby Andrews, Dinah Washington, Gene Chandler, Minnie Riperton, The Emotions, Miki Howard, Ripple, Bobby Hutton, Patrick Howell Marlow, Tyrone Davis, Lou Rawls, The Center Stage, The Steelers, The Players, Brighter Side of Darkness, Denise LaSalle, The Master Plan, Son of Slums, 21st Century, The Lost Generation, The Notations, Earth Wind & Fire, Johnnie Taylor, Ko Ko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Otis Clay, Chicago, Charles Earland, Barbara Acklin, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, and MzLeeLee!!
SITCOM, MOVIES, A MOVIE SERIES WHERE CABRINI GREEN HOUSING PROJECTS USED AS A BACKDROP WERE ALL SHOT IN CABRINI GREEN:
“GOOD TIMES”, “COOLEY HIGH”, “CANDYMAN”, “HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND”, “WHITE BOYZ”, “HARDBALL”, “THE GREEN LANTERN”, “DOWN IN THE DELTA”, “BOSS SERIES” DOCUMENTARY-70 ACRES IN CHICAGO, BOOKS WRITTEN, CANDYMAN 2020 AND COMING SOON… A FEATURE FILM ABOUT CABRINI GREEN – “THE SOUL STORY OF STORIES” IN DEVELOPMENT NOW, BY RON SIMMONS, WHO GREW UP IN CABRINI GREEN.
GO BANG! Magazine: Film making is very expensive and funding can be extremely hard to obtain. How is your funding campaign going and what can our readers do to help you achieve your funding goal?
Ron Simmons: ABOUT SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS AGO, HOLLYWOOD CONTACTED AND OFFERED ME SOME BIG MONEY FOR MY CABRINI GREEN SCRIPT. I DECLINED BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN ME OUT OF THE PROJECT. I DIDN’T WANT THAT BECAUSE THEY WOULD HAVE CHANGED THE SCRIPT TO MAKE BLACKS LOOK BAD. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY. IT’S ABOUT OUR LIVES AND THEY NEED TO BE TOLD THE RIGHT WAY.
I INVESTED BIG MONEY INTO THE PROJECT IN THE BEGINNING AND I CONTINUE TO INVEST WHAT I CAN, WHEN I CAN. BUT, I HAVE BEEN GETTING ONGOING HELP FROM MY SUPPORTERS, WHEN THEY CAN. BUT MUCH IS STILL NEEDED AND I KNOW IT WILL HAPPEN, AS LONG AS I STAY FOCUSED.
I GOT A CALL FROM MY AGENT ON 5/11/2020. HE JUST GOT TWO MOVIES PICKED UP AND NOW MY MOVIE “CABRINI GREEN” HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO NET FLIX, SO STAY TUNED.
HERE IS THE LINK FOR THE ONGOING FUNDING CAMPAIGN FOR THE FEATURE FILM PROJECT:
PLEASE DONATE HERE: https://www.gofundme.com/f/cabrini-green-project?
GO BANG! Magazine: Besides film making and producing your upcoming blockbuster film, are you working on anything else that our readers should be aware of?
Ron Simmons: YES, TWO OTHER SCRIPTS, “BLACK LIKE ME – A TRUE STORY” AND “THE ARTIST.” I’M ALSO RAISING FUNDING FOR THE PROJECTS.
GO BANG! Magazine: On a personal note, how do you cope with the fact that you were once a world record power lifter and then had to grapple living with a physically debilitating issue? Please explain your health condition and your inspiring story of how you overcame it to be the powerful man you are today.
Ron Simmons: I HAVE BEEN FACED WITH MANY OBSTACLES ALL OF MY LIFE. SOMETHING MY MOTHER SAID TO ME GROWING UP IS THAT, “YOU MAY NOT WIN EVERY FIGHT, BUT FIGHT BACK SO THEY WILL KNOW THAT YOU WILL NOT GIVE UP.” ALL OF THE THINGS I HAVE DONE IN MY LIFE HAVE BEEN A GREAT OPPORTUNITY AND A GIFT. I’M TRULY GRATEFUL I DIDN’T PASS THEM UP.
IN REFERENCE TO MY HEALTH, I CAUGHT POLIO WHEN I WAS YOUNG. I HAD 14 OPERATIONS, BUT I NEVER LET THAT STOP ME. I HAVE DONE MORE THINGS IN MY LIFE THAN AN ABLE-BODIED PERSON HAS. I’M GOOD, BUT I DEAL WITH PAIN EVERYDAY ON DIFFERENT LEVELS, FROM ALL THE YEARS OF TRAINING. LIFE IS GOOD FOR THE MOST PART. I NEVER LIKE LOSING THAT IS WHY I WORK SO HARD, SO THAT WHEN I’M LOSING, I’M STILL WINNING.
THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I HAVE TO THANK FOR A LOT OF MY SUCCESS INCLUDING:
MY TRAINING PARTNERS OVER THE YEARS IVAN MEJIAS, BOBBY REED, AND CURTIS SMITH
MY FRIEND, TRAINER AND MENTOR SERGIO OLIVA SR
MY TRAINER MARTA COLLAZO
MY TRAINER ALLEN GOLDSTEIN
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE ME. I KNOW MORE THAN I SAY, I THINK MORE THAN I SPEAK AND I NOTICE MORE THAN YOU REALIZE.
GO BANG! Magazine: Another personal story that you have is that you grew up with Eric Monte, the creator of Good Times, The Jefferson’s, What’s Happening, and Cooley High. You even know his REAL name as a matter of fact, but that’s not important right now. What is important is describing to our readers what it was like to grow up with a person that would eventually become the writer of iconic, black, cultural, ground-breaking television shows and a movie that’s a staple in every black person’s life.
Ron Simmons: KENNETH WILLIAMS AKA ERIC MONTE
IT WAS COOL GROWING UP AROUND ERIC. HE WAS ALWAYS ON THE RUN DOING THINGS, WRITING IN HIS NOTEBOOK, TALKING ABOUT STORIES AND BECOMING FAMOUS. AS LITTLE KIDS YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT GOING OUTSIDE TO PLAY GAMES AND HAVING FUN WITH OTHERS. ERIC WAS DIFFERENT THAT WAY. BUT COOL TO BE AROUND AT DIFFERENT TIMES.
I REMEMBER WHEN HE CAME BACK HOME TO MAKE THE MOVIE “COOLEY HIGH.” IT WAS A BIG BUZZ IN THE COMMUNITY AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN CABRINI WAS GETTING AN OPPORTUNITY TO AUDITION FOR THE FILM. I SAW ERIC ONE DAY IN CABRINI. WE STOPPED AND TALKED. HE TOLD ME WHAT HE WAS DOING AND TOLD ME TO COME DOWN TO ONE OF THE AUDITIONS. I HAD JUST GOT MARRIED AND MY HEAD SPACE WAS SOME PLACE ELSE. I NEVER WENT TO ANY OF THE AUDITIONS AND THE NEXT THING I HEARD ABOUT ERIC WAS THE MOVIE COMING OUT. WE STAYED IN TOUCH FROM TIME TO TIME. I WAS TRULY HAPPY FOR HIM. I THINK WE ALL WERE TRYING TO MAKE OUR MARK ON LIFE.
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?
Ron Simmons: FOR ME IT’S JUST TRYING TO STAY HEALTHY, SAFE AND MAKING SURE MY MOTHER WHO IS 86 YEARS OLD STAY HEALTHY AND SAFE TOO. THIS IS A SILENT KILLER THAT WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. I DO BELIEVE THE “POWERS THAT BE” DO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. I BELIEVE OUR GOVERNMENTS HAVE FAILED THE PEOPLE. I BELIEVE MORE CAN AND SHOULD BE DONE FOR THE PEOPLE. THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE GOING TO LOSE THE MOST. YOU HAVE BOTH PARTIES FIGHTING OVER NONSENSE, WHILE PEOPLE ARE DYING EVERYDAY. YOU HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T CARE ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE DYING. IT HAS BEEN SAID WE HAVE BEEN OVERPOPULATED FOR A VERY LONG TIME NOW.
You can follow Ron Simmons with the following links:
THE RON SIMMONS BRANDS
LYNX PRODUCTIONS MUSIC & FILM
CABRINI GREEN, LLC
CABRINI GREEN FEATURE FILM
CABLE TV SERIES
HALL & SIMMONS ACCOUNTING CONSULTING
CABRINI GREEN ONGOING FUNDING CAMPAIGN FOR THE FEATURE FILM PROJECT
CHECK HERE FOR ANY UPDATES ON THE FEATURE FILM CABRINI GREEN
RON SIMMONS SPORTS HISTORY
CHICAGO INFAMOUS HOUSING PROJECTS IN THE WORLD
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram