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Jazz is the foundation of Mark Ruffin’s entire career as a music historian, journalist and broadcaster. In this week’s Black Voices Book Club selection, the principles of jazz composition also inspired his fictional takes on topics of race and intolerance.

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Sammy Davis Jr. appears on WTTW’s “Our People” in 1968. (WTTW)

In this recently rediscovered interview, the Grammy Award-winning actor talks with “Our People” host Jim Tilmon about how media representations affect popular perceptions.

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(WTTW News)

A Chicago artist is working to make sure no musician is left behind with a community organization dedicated to Black musicians in Chicago.

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What does a 20th century electricity baron have to do with a spitting llama at a suburban petting zoo? Geoffrey Baer is here with the story of the Hawthorn Mellody dairy farm in this week’s Ask Geoffrey.

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Erwin Helfer in 2001. (Credit: Paul Natkin)

There are many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down. This is the story of the emotional devastation — and recovery — experienced by beloved local musician Erwin Helfer.

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A screenshot from the “Black Voices” community conversation on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

From Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks to Marsha P. Johnson and Stacey Abrams, Black women continue to be key leaders in our communities. This Black History Month, WTTW News shined a light on Black women during our February community conversation. Watch it now.

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A still image from a video provided by the Chicago Children’s Choir, which is presenting a virtual Black History Month concert in February 2021. (Courtesy Chicago Children’s Choir)

A musical journey through Black history explores how African traditions not only influence music genres today, but how they have helped the Black community celebrate and maintain its traditions.  

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A still image from video shows an interview with Diahann Carroll on “Our People.” (WTTW)

Black women’s hair, particularly in the workplace, has been the subject of endless discussion in recent years. In this rediscovered 1968 interview from the WTTW show “Our People,” actor Diahann Carroll tells a story that demonstrates it’s not exactly a new issue.

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Princeton University professor Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. talks about his hopes for the nation — and those of writer James Baldwin — in this week’s Black Voices Book Club selection.

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Six Flags Entertainment Corporation says it is planning to open all 26 of its amusement parks and water parks for the 2021 season, including five that were not able to operate last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation says it is planning to open all 26 of its amusement parks and water parks for the 2021 season, including five that were not able to operate last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Robert and Karen Autenrieth on Valentine’s Day with the wedding ring. (Courtesy Autenrieth family)

The improbable story began during the winter of 1973, when Karen Autenrieth lost her wedding band at her grandmother’s house in Chicago. It’s a memory she clearly recalls decades later.

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The gospel group A4L. (WTTW News)

A group of young women are changing the narrative of gospel music — and who it’s for. We meet a band of sisters who are on a mission. 

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Enrique Mazzola, music director designate at Lyric Opera of Chicago. (Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot)

“Sole e Amore,” Enrique Mazzola’s newest project, will include two dozen songs by seven of the most beloved Italian opera composers of the 19th century, performed by 11 members of the Ryan Opera Center, Lyric’s renowned artist development program.

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A still image from video shows an interview with George Kirby on “Our People.” (WTTW)

In this rediscovered interview from the WTTW series “Our People,” host Jim Tilmon gets the Chicago comedian to tell one of his signature stories.

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“White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America’s Racist History” re-examines the Reconstruction era through the 1960s and offers a new perspective on America’s history of white supremacy. Author Jane Dailey joins us as part of our Black Voices Book Club series.

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Sea shanties were sung by sailors while performing certain tasks on board ship. (Bernhard Staerck / Pixabay)

Sea shanties are suddenly all the rage thanks to TikTok but Chicago’s long been a hub for shanty singing. We explore the city’s connection to the musical tradition — and its undeniable staying power.