Recently, I was criticized by a few readers for my choice of using gang images to promote Uptown. I know there are many who do not agree with my choice to include gang memorabilia. While I do not condone violence, I feel that these groups are a part of the history of the neighborhood as much as any group that lived and worked here. I hope that by including such images, we can all have a better understanding of the factors that went into the development of the Uptown we see around us today.
The card featured here is currently on eBay: Uptown Latin Kings There seems to be a lot of interest in collecting these, as I frequently see them for auction. The cards often have images common in the seventies, such as pot leaves and unicorns. Some are more disturbing, with Klan members or guns or devil heads.
The blog We Are Supervision, which has a gallery of these images, says "Every city has its own gang history, part of Chicago's are gang cards, most prominent in the 70's and early 80's, back in the day when a gang was more of a neighborhood crew then what it is today. Fists, bats, and bottles days, before guns became the norm in the gang. Most of the gangs were just about the neighborhood and hanging out together."
UIC has an ongoing Chicago Gang History Project, and I love how they summarize what this history means: "The history of gangs is the history of Chicago. It is more than a story of crime, drugs, and violence. It is a story of immigrants and migrants, neighborhoods and nations, industry and deindustrialization, workers and entrepreneurs, masculinity and femininity, rebellion and resignation, nihilism and politics. It is a story of the persistence of the ghetto. In short, it is the story of Chicago, as told from its margins."