Past Event

Creating Street Peace with Barbara Becnel

Tookie’s books for kids are back! Join us for this special conversation centered on the republication of Stanley Tookie Williams’ children’s books for street peace. Williams, who was the co-founder of the Los Angeles Crips, dedicated his life on death row to working towards street peace and social justice. The series won the 2007 Prevention for a Safer Society Award for Literature and Williams, who was executed in 2005 by the state of California, was nominated numerous times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Join Barbara Becnel, editor of these books and co-producer of the film Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story, in a conversation about the value of Stan’s legacy for street peace and ending gang violence. Hilda Franco of Chicago Freedom School; and Jackson Potter of Little Village Lawndale School of Social Justice, will be on hand as respondents.

This program is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made online, by e-mail at, or at 312.422.5580.

More about Barbara Becnel and respondents.

Barbara Becnel is Executive Director of Neighborhood House of North Richmond, a nonprofit social services agency in Richmond, California. For 13 years she worked with Stanley Tookie Williams, death row prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, to edit and publish his award-winning series of books for at-risk children. She was Stan’s advocate and friend, and organized an international campaign for clemency until he was killed by the State of California on December 13, 2005. Her background includes working as a public policy expert in Washington, D.C. and in Los Angeles. She has written more than 100 newspaper and magazine articles as well as several books about parenting and overcoming drug addiction. Becnel received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Adelphi University; attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a doctoral program in Quantitative and Labor Economics; and did post-graduate work at the University of Chicago as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.  Learn more about Becnel’s work with the Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network.

Hilda Franco, a youth organizer at Chicago Freedom School, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Benito Juarez High School. As a Posse Scholar, Hilda received a full tuition scholarship to Carleton College, where she received a B.A. in History. Along with other fellow Posse scholars at Carleton she took initiative in creating dialogue on campus surrounding critical global issues that affect local communities. An advocate of accessibility to quality education, Hilda also carries a strong passion for the arts. At the age of 18, Hilda became a teaching artist for the Goodman Theatre youth summer program. After teaching with the Goodman for five years, she developed a critical pedagogy that uses theatre to empower youth. Since then, Hilda has worked as a program coordinator for Options For Youth and taught an interdisciplinary Theatre, Literature, and Arts program at Little Village Lawndale School for Social Justice.

Jackson Potter currently teaches at the Little Village Lawndale School for Social Justice. He was formerly coordinator of the Chicago Social Justice Schools Network. Jackson, a product of the Chicago Public Schools graduated from Whitney Young in 1995. For the last 5 years, he has worked in CPS as an educator.  In 2002, he worked at Manley High School as a student advocate for Umoja Student Development Corps where he designed advisory curriculum, led student lunchtime workshops, and organized college tours.  In 2003, Jackson began teaching social studies at Englewood High School where he helped develop a civil rights oral history program in his department, built relationships with area activists, and was a core organizer of the Chicago Social Justice Student Exposition in May 2007.  He is also a delegate to the Chicago Teachers Union where he was active in the Renaissance 2010 committee that fought against the privatization of schools. Jackson is currently pursuing his PhD in history.

This Artists, Activists, and Authors After Hours program is co-sponsored by The Public Square, The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and Chicago Freedom School.


Free. Open to the public. For more information, call 312.422.5580.