Kelley Foxx and Kim Foxx photo

Kim Foxx Parents, Mother Gennell Wilson Age, Obituary, Husband

Kim Foxx Parents

Kim Foxx was born in Chicago and grew up on the Near North Side in the Cabrini-Green Housing Project. Foxx was raised by her mother and grandmother and attended LaSalle Language Academy in Old Town before graduating from Lincoln Park High School in 1990.

She graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a J.D. from the Southern Illinois University School of Law. She is a member of Adler University’s board of trustees.

Kim Foxx Mother

Gennell Wilson, Foxx’s mother, had already given birth to a son, Stephen Anderson, while she was still in high school. She dropped out in 1972, her senior year, after the birth of her daughter Kim Anderson. (Her married name is Fox.) Wilson raised her two children on the eighth floor of a Cabrini Green public housing complex building until Foxx was eight years old, mostly without the father of her children.

“He just wasn’t around,” Anderson says, who went on to study acting at Juilliard and is now a successful commercial actor. (During this year’s Super Bowl, he appeared in a Superman-themed Turkish Airlines commercial.) “[Our father] would contact us for holidays or birthdays, but there was no day-to-day relationship.” Anderson recalls his mother sitting him down several times and telling him, “I’m sorry you don’t have a father. But I’m doing everything I can.”

An otherwise close-knit community helped to compensate for their father’s absence. The projects housed nearly their entire extended family, including aunts, cousins, and their maternal grandmother. However, the rest of the world seemed far away.

“We were really isolated—this island was our entire world,” Anderson says. “We didn’t know much about the surrounding neighborhoods. Even going to Jewel on Clark and Division was a memorable experience.” Segregation further isolated that island. “We saw them on television, but we never imagined we’d meet white people,” Anderson says.

Cabrini Green became synonymous with crippling poverty and extreme violence during those years. Fear was frequently in the air. Foxx recalls a group of Cabrini residents gathering in an apartment to watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” premiere on MTV. They laughed and joked about the video until shots rang out from another floor of the building.

“Our high from watching this Michael Jackson video was snuffed out by [cries of] ‘Everybody get in the back!'” Foxx reflects.

Wilson eventually decided that the family would have to leave. She had resolved to live somewhere in Old Town or Lincoln Park—anywhere as long as it was within the LaSalle Language Academy magnet school’s boundaries. This was an unprecedented move.

“No one in our family had ever gotten out of Cabrini Green,” Anderson explains. “That was not in the script.”

However, the family could only afford to stay in the area for a short time. Foxx claims that the family moved five times between third and eighth grade because they were frequently unable to pay their rent or were looking for cheaper housing. She recalled a recent driving tour of her old apartments that she gave her younger daughter, during which she told stories about her family’s hardships. Some of the apartments lacked refrigerators or stoves because her mother’s income was limited. Her mother occasionally slept on the couch because she couldn’t afford enough bedrooms for everyone. Foxx recalls one North and Larrabee apartment as “so roach infested it was awful.” Wilson, on the other hand, was able to keep the family within the boundaries of LaSalle, and then, when the children were old enough, Lincoln Park High School.

Wilson worked as a telephone operator, a Better Business Bureau agent, and a waitress during this time before landing a job as a communicable disease investigator for the city’s Department of Public Health, according to Anderson. Wilson got the job by lying about her qualifications, Foxx claims, telling the city she had an associate’s degree despite dropping out of high school—a lie that would come back to haunt both Wilson and Foxx years later.

The job was a “good city job,” Foxx recalls, and it helped the family’s finances. However, during her junior year of high school, Wilson was suspended for six weeks without pay after a fight with a coworker. Wilson, who has since died, was already living paycheck to paycheck when the suspension occurred, forcing the family to become homeless.

Anderson refers to that time as “the horror” because it was the first time he and his sister had ever lived apart. Wilson and her children initially stayed with friends and family, then Anderson moved in with a friend, while Foxx and her mother alternated between friends’ and family’s homes and north-side homeless shelters. Despite the fact that the suspension was only for six weeks, it took the family six months to save enough money for a security deposit and the first month’s rent in a new apartment. Foxx also contributed. She had worked at the now-closed Color Me Coffee in Lakeview since her sophomore year (she paused in telling this story to claim hipster cred for being a barista “before it was a thing”). While she and her mother were living in shelters, Foxx put her earnings “into the kitty” to help the family get out of poverty.

Both Anderson and Foxx now say they are humbled by their mother’s sacrifices. But one night, while living in a Salvation Army shelter with her mother, the frustrations of poverty triumphed over such gratitude.

Foxx desired to attend a friend’s birthday party. The shelter, on the other hand, required her to be present for dinner. Her frustration with being homeless for months finally boiled over. She went into what she now refers to as a “teenage rage,” yelling at her mother about how tired she was of the family’s situation. She stormed out of the shelter, determined to find alternative housing.

Foxx received a call from a north-side hospital later that night. Her mother was discovered unconscious on a Lincoln Park bench after attempting suicide by swallowing a large number of pills. Foxx was heartbroken. The next day, she went to see her mother in the hospital and was astounded to see her mother sitting in her hospital bed, so vulnerable.

“She said they stole her shoelaces. And I didn’t understand it. ‘They think I’m going to hurt myself with my shoelaces,’ she explained.

“Her having to explain to me that she seriously considered suicide… ” Foxx paused, wiping away a tear. “I was like, ‘Wait, did you just try to leave me?'”

Foxx had been completely unaware of her mother’s flaws. “Despite everything, she was a model of strength for me,” Foxx recalls.

Those flaws surfaced only a few times in Foxx’s life, but they resurfaced around 2011 when, after a decade and a half of working in law and politics, she considered running against Alvarez. As she considered her options, she was met with opposition from an unexpected source: her mother.

Wilson became terrified of what Foxx’s opponent’s opposition researchers might discover about her, particularly the fact that she had lied about having an associate’s degree. ” ‘Kim’s going to get me fired!’ ‘They’re going to dig all this dirt on me!’ Foxx recalls her saying.

Wilson may have been afraid of being forced back into a homeless shelter.

“She said I was selfish,” Foxx recalls. “She tried everything but the kitchen sink to persuade me.” Foxx eventually succumbed to her mother’s fears and chose not to flee. Her desire to reform the criminal justice system was strong, but so was her desire to protect her mother.


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