Growing up on Chicago’s west side, Patricia Williams lived in almost-constant fear. When she became a mother, she decided it was time for a change.
Annie Davis sits in a swath of shade on the lowly set sill of a window near the corner of 41st and North gazing out into the sunlight while she waits. The 61-year-old Davis grew up in Greenwood, Miss., the daughter of a sharecropper. Life was not easy. “We didn’t have no money so we had to help our mother, you know. We had to chop cotton, pick cotton … so I didn’t get a chance to go to school,” says Davis. “My mother, she grew up doin’ the same thing, almost like slavery.”
Charity Harvey unlocks her small studio at 231 E. Buffalo. She opens the door to a surprisingly spacious, pristine space. Walls hung with more-than-a-few full-length mirrors end at the finished wood floor, whose only interruption is a shiny fireman’s pole, skewering one side of the room, otherwise-empty except for a modest bookshelf and a handful of accoutrements. A copy of The Unteathered Soul sits unassumingly on the shelf. She says the book, which focuses on “the inner journey,” has really helped her come to terms with some of the external challenges she’s had to face. “I used to not be able to talk about my mom without getting those really tight feelings in my chest and feeling like I wanted to cry … You know, even though you wouldn’t cry, [I’d] still feel that when I’d start talking about her.”