G Herbo Is Converting A School On Chicago’s South Side To A Community Center

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
G Herbo
Hip-Hop artist G Herbo is converting a school on Chicago’s south side to a community center. Image: Almighty Glo/Flickr

G Herbo doesn’t want to be just another hip-hop artist who made it out of the hood. The native Chicagoan is doing his part to help his hood and he’s doing it in several major ways.

“I don’t want to be that guy to have all the resources to change my neighborhood, change my city and the youth and do nothing with it,” G Herbo told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year.

So, he’s put his money where his heart is. Real name Herbert Randall Wright III, G Herbo purchased the abandoned Overton Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side and is moving ahead with plans to turn it into a community center for youth.

Overton – which opened in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement – was closed in 2013 after 50 years of serving youth on Chicago’s South Side after then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools, the Tribune reported.

G Herbo was once a student there. While covid-19 has delayed the renovation of the building, G Herbo’s media rep. Janelle Gibbs told the Tribune among the plans for the center are a music incubator and media lab.

In the meantime, G Herbo’s putting the property to good use. On Sept. 19, he co-hosted a community outreach event with the charitable organizations of fellow Chicago MCs Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa.

Families were given necessities like food, school supplies, PPE, feminine products, free covid-19 testing, voter registration booths and more.

“This day and days like this is (sic) important to me because it’s not about me, it’s not about one person,” G Herbo told the crowd during a speech. “It’s about everybody here, especially everybody who volunteered … to really show that we can come together as a community and as a city as a whole to focus on things that need attention in the community – safety, education, a lot of the things that I was affected by growing up and being a part of the city of Chicago.”

This isn’t the first time G Herbo has used his platform to help his community both at home and across the nation.

In July, he launched Swervin’ Through Stress, a mental health initiative on a mission “to connect Black young adults with therapeutic resources that help inform and improve their mental health in pursuit of a better quality of life.”

Through it, G Herbo raises funding to pay for three months of therapy for Black youth ages 18-25 to help them cope with current, past and generational trauma.

The “PTSD” MC came up with the idea for the initiative after experiencing the effectiveness of therapy firsthand following a couple of brushes with the law that caused him to re-examine his life.

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He said he wanted to get to the root causes of some of the issues in his life and realized a lot of it stemmed from deep-rooted trauma from poverty, violence and many other issues he faced growing up. Then he realized he wasn’t alone by far and decided to do something about it.

“My friends, just people from my neighborhood, we endure so much trauma on a day-to-day basis and it’s normalized. We don’t even grieve. We don’t even think twice about it.” G Herbo told the Tribune in a July interview. “You deserve that. You’re supposed to have that as a kid — a support system growing up. And I don’t think we realize how many of us don’t, so I want to spread light on that to show people that there are so many kids that need your help that you overlook every single day.”

Though the application submissions for the program are currently at capacity, those in need of help can also call the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support hotline at 1-844-457-PTSD (7873).

For G Herbo, sitting idly by and just making music is not an option.

“Artists and people with platforms like myself, like Vic, like Joey, like Chance … we can come an make an example for the next generation to come and for other artists to use their platform to just try to fix things that need fixing little by little,” G Herbo said. “We’re not saying we’re going to see drastic change tomorrow, but if we keep this up, it’s limitless opportunities and limited places we can go and it’s about the youth.”