Black thespians shine in “Bronzeville,” a scripted audio series that dives into the heart of the eponymous South Side Chicago neighborhood and its underground economy during the 1940s. The series’ first episode of 10 premieres today (February 7).
Per an emailed statement, “Bronzeville” explores “the lives of players in the lottery games” and how those games impacted the “sustainability of the community’s African-American residents.”
The drama also incorporates the neighborhood’s history as a center of Black commercial and cultural life. As author Nathan Thompson explained in his 2006 book, “Kings: The True Story of Chicago’s Policy Kings and Numbers Racketeers,” Bronzeville and other Black neighborhoods’ “numbers” or “policy” gambling rackets (which involved placing bets on horse track race results) generated ”combined annual sales sometimes reaching the $100 million mark and [employed] tens-of-thousands of people nationwide.” The policy games reflected the resilience of Black entrepreneurship in the face of racist exclusion from the above-ground economy.
Co-executive producers and directors Laurence Fishburne (“Black-ish”) and Larenz Tate (“Power”) star in the series alongside a large cast including Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Tika Sumpter (“Southside with You”), Omari Hardwick (“Power”) and Wood Harris (“The New Edition Story”). Josh Olson (“A History of Violence”) wrote the script.