fountain

John W. Fountain biography

A native son of Chicago’s West Side, John W. Fountain is an award-winning journalist, professor, and author of the memoir True Vine: A Young Black …Read More

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Thanks, Mama, and may you rest in peace

This week’s column is an excerpt from my memoir, “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity” and a tribute to my mother, Gwendolyn Marie Hagler Clincy, who died on Friday, Aug. 22, after a long illness. Itook one last look …

‘The only thing stolen: bases’

This is the second excerpt in a series titled The Sweet Season. No fatalism. No pathology. Simply a slice of life in middle America. Of little boys and men with Little League hopes and dreams. No gang. Team. No guns. Bats. The only hitters are …

The Sweet Season begins in Ford Heights

This is the first excerpt in a series titled The Sweet Season: The sweet season. It is a time when little boys are innocent, free, no matter what cruelty their eyes might already have seen. A time when smiles curl easily at the edges of …

Warning for parents on how to raise a killer

This is part of an occasional series titled Chiraq. How to raise a killer: First, fathers, abandon your sons. Never cradle or nurture them. Wholesale kick them to the curb soon after life begins. The sooner, the better. Never spend time with them, never show …

Fewer shootings mean no less hell

Apall hung over the city like a dark cloud. Police scoured the streets in search of an 11-year-old murder suspect on the lam. His name was “Yummy.” He was, according to police, at his tender age, already a hardened criminal. Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was believed …

I can remember a better Chicago

I’m so Chicago that I remember a time when we were a community. A time before crack cocaine, before drive-by shootings. A time when there was no news of little girls being killed by stray bullets at a slumber party. I remember a time before …

Give motorcyclists their deserved respect

Something about the rumble of my Harley on a sun-drenched summer day. Something about the wind blowing through my, uh, helmet or scarf, since I am bald. Something sweet about rolling over an open country road — time and destiny suspended by the sense of …

On bloody weekend, where was the church?

This is the second in an occasional series titled Chiraq. On “Bloody Sunday” in Chiraq, where was “the church”? What were her prayers? Her hopes for those who dwell amid the gunfire and bloodshed here that has turned some neighborhoods into war zones? Did she …

Counting blessings when lights go out

Outside, the winds roared. Inside, our lights flickered. The rains fell. Soon it was clear that the storm was upon us. Suddenly, the house went dark. My son and I grabbed our cellphones, using their glow to give us some modicum of visibility. He followed …

What’s with the mug shot madness?

Beauty is only skin deep, they say. But that didn’t stop a blue-eyed bad boy from becoming an overnight Internet sensation. With chiseled cheeks and tattoos, his mug shot had some ladies fawning and gushing, despite his felony criminal background. The ensuing buzz across social …

If only we could banish the term ‘Chiraq’

This is the first in an occasional series titled “Chiraq.” ‘Chiraq” is dead, they say. But maybe they forgot to tell the killers. Neglected to send the memo to homicidal young’uns around Chi-Town to put those guns down. Or is it that they aren’t listening? …

Moms are great, but let dads have this day

Random thoughts, in my best Chris Rock voice: Can we fathers get even one day, just one day, without some sisters demanding credit on our day too? And can we please, please, for father’s sake, at least get the big piece of chicken? Just random …

We work on being better fathers

Written Father’s Day, 1996, this letter is an excerpt from my book, “Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood”: Dear Dad, I’m sitting here at the computer this morning writing this letter. Imani and Monica are fine. The Bulls look terrible. I can’t believe the Sonics have …

A blueprint for life would give young people a leg up

Istood before a jovial group of promising teens at the West Side’s Spencer Elementary Technology Academy, their voices roaring inside the assembly hall. “I may be young, but I’ve got a plan,” they yelled, repeating after me the pledge of success I wrote some years …

Dear daughter: ‘You ran. With heart, you ran’

Dear Daughter, I will always remember our season together. The cold. The snow. The wind. Rain. The way you ran. I will remember how we arose to our clocks’ 5 a.m. buzzing, from winter through spring. How I sometimes stumbled out of bed a little …

A dream called Southland is real

There once was a dream called Southland. It was as invisible as a wisp of air beneath a Ping-Pong ball inside a glass machine as the fate of children and parents hoping to be part of the first south suburban charter high school rested on …

It takes a mother, good and loving

It takes a mother. We must reclaim, revive, rebuild and restore the village: One child, one mother, one family at a time. For the village is broken, deeply broken. And while it also takes a father, because of the absence of men who too often …