James L. Crafton “strong” black young man, born July 12, 1974 to Janet Elaine Crafton and Burt Lee Walker, Sr. James is the 3rd oldest of 7 siblings. A native Chicagoan, James was born and raised in the Harold Ickes Public Housing Development and later transition out in 1995.
James educational background consists of Wendell Phillips High School, JROTC (1992), Kennedy King College, Associates of Arts in Business Administration (2009) , National Louis University, Bachelors of Arts in Social and Applied behavioral Science (2011), National Louis University, Masters of Arts in Psychology (2013).
To escape the perils of what was occurring in his home, at the age of 12, James joined the 21st Police District Law Enforcement Explorers Program. Being active in the explorers program for four years, James posted colors for the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer. James pursued more activities that kept him focused and more involved in the community where today, he is still respected and admired by all that knows him. At the age of 14, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Sports & Recreation Department appointed James Sports Coordinator for his community. Without any knowledge of sports, James continued to his tenacity to actively engage the young adults of his community in order to ensure adequate programming. Growing up in public housing and other than sports, no other unique programs such as drill teams were offered to the youth. At the age of 16, James joined the Untouchable Unity Dance Troupe (U-Phi-U) where he started as a dancer and later promoted to the Group Director. James performed the duties of management, public relations, booking, promotions and marketing, group structuring and discipline. While being a part of the dance troupe, James outgoing persona enabled him to establish a networking relationship with various agencies and organizations in order to provide quality resources not offered by the troupe.
During his tenure as a resident of the Ickes Community, James has played a major role in the community where he gained independence in the community securing his own apartment where he was elected Building Vice President with the Ickes Local Advisory Council (LAC), Co-captain of the CHA Tenant Patrol and served as a community representative for three years. James also implemented the “Just Say No” Dance Troupe, a teen pregnancy & drug prevention program for young ladies within the community.
One year out of high School in December 1993, James was employed with (CHA) as an Information and Referral Counselor, where his duties were to “Implement & Develop strategies for residential empowerment,” preparing residents to manage their own businesses, activities, etc. Employed in this position, James served as a 24 on-call employee prepared to assist residents at any time of the hour. In July 1995, James was transferred to the CHA Police Department as a Police Assistant, performing administrative duties to commanding officers. In 1999, the CHA Police Department closed and James transferred to CHA Resident Program Department as a Program Coordinator over the CHA Ambassador Choir and later parted as the Program Director of the CHA Drill Team.
As a positive role model for today’s youth and young adults, James continues to mentor and nurture the youth to ensure that they are setting worthy and realistic goals in life. With the desire and understanding for our today’s youth, James continues to stand in the forefront as a role model of communities cloning the support he received growing up. James vowed to always give his best until all is given.
Today, James serves as Executive Director of the New Generation Fancy Drill Team & Performance Ensemble. This program was established March 25, 2000 with a mission to provide a program that is well focused and can improve the life prospects of disadvantaged youth. In September 2003, James alone with drill team members traveled to Hannibal, Missouri to host a 3-day Youth Leadership Education and Training Workshop with a concentration in Morale Enhancement. From that workshop, James and drill team member’s services were later called April 2004 to Quincy, Illinois where they implemented the Q-City Show Stoppers Drill Team & Drum Corps.
Since established, James has serviced hundreds of youth and young adults throughout the city of Chicago. In 2001, Mr. Crafton implemented his dream within the Chicago Public School System, and now operates as an after school program for several schools. Bringing a dream to reality, Mr. Crafton has broaden the horizons of many participating youth with the traveling to other cities and states across the U.S., i.e., Las Vegas, Nevada; Buckhannon, West Virginia; Denver, Colorado; Utah; Atlanta, Georgia; Pennsylvania; Lincoln, Nebraska; Kentucky; Tennessee; Ohio & Columbia-Hannibal-Kansas City, Missouri ; Wisconsin Dells and other surroundings cities within the Wisconsin border.
Though some members tend to stray away from the tough love that Mr. Crafton gives, they somehow find their way back home. Due to hard work and unselfish dedication, James Crafton and the New Generation Fancy Drill Team are in High Demand. As the teams motto, Thrills!! Drills!! & Life skills! Mr. Crafton and members of the drill team use it as a guide for success in their everyday life.