One character that I was really drawn to in Chi-Raq was John Cusack’s character, Father Mike Corridan. At Patti’s funeral, he gives a powerful sermon outlining why gang violence continues to thrive in Chicago, noting that it is likely because there is a lack of economic investment in their community. This lack of investment forces Chicago men to go work in “the underground economy” because, even though “they say unemployment is 5.7%” in “Auburn Gresham, unemployment is 21%, and that doesn’t even count people who have given up hope” (43:54).
A couple months ago I came across a New Yorker article about an Auburn Gresham Priest, Father Michael Pfleger, called “Father Mike.” Father Mike has worked in the Chicago area for the past 40 years. In his time he “has expanded St. Sabina beyond the church and the school, to include a food pantry, a job-training center, and apartments for low-income residents and the elderly.” Much like Cusack’s character, Father Mike has also paid “witnesses to name assailants whom others are afraid to identify.”
I thought it was very interesting that Lee chose to essentially place this real life person into a film that is founded in Greek Literature. It clearly shows that Pfleger is a man that is deeply respected by Lee.
For more on Father Mike, check out this video
Also, check out this cool photo of Father Mike with Spike Lee!