Stories by Alexandra Silets

Muhammad Ali’s Fight for Civil Rights Celebrated, Remembered in Illinois

(PBS / Florentine Films)

Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day coincided with the first celebration of Muhammad Ali Day in Illinois on what would have been the champion boxer and civil rights activist's 80th birthday.

Workers at Art Institute Museum, School Vote to Unionize

South lion at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Heather Paul / Flickr)

Employees at the School of the Art Institute voted to unionize Wednesday, one day after workers at the Art Institute also voted to form a union. It’s the first major museum union in Chicago and will represent more than 200 Art Institute employees including installers, curators, custodians, librarians and retail workers.

The Week in Review: CPS Teachers Buck In-Person Learning with Omicron Surge

(WTTW News)

Chicago schools shut down in a dispute between teachers and administrators. Arne Duncan teases a potential mayoral run. Remembering Jan. 6. And Lightfoot vows a reset on crime in 2022.

Spotlight Politics: Omicron Variant Pits CTU Against Mayor, Schools CEO

(WTTW News)

What’s the political fallout of the standoff between the teachers union and the city? The race for the 1st Congressional District heats up after Bobby Rush announces he's stepping down. And U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger decides his future on the eve of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot anniversary.

Spotlight Politics: Chicago Issues Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate Amid Surge

A bartender mixes a drink at the Chicago restaurant 14 Parish. (WTTW News)

A look at the political and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 surge. Our politics team and guest reporters weigh in on that and more.

The Week in Review: Infections Rising, City Worker Vaccine Mandate Upheld

(WTTW News)

Omicron variant rips through Chicago and the U.S. The city gives the OK to stadium sports betting. Aurora Mayor may be a gubernatorial candidate. And downstate struggles with the aftermath of deadly storms.

The Week in Review: Jury Convicts Smollett on 5 of 6 Counts of Lying to Police

Jussie Smollett is found guilty on five out of six counts of lying to police, filing a false police report and disorderly conduct in his hate-crime hoax case. (WTTW News via CNN)

Cook County jury convicts Jussie Smollett for faking a hate crime. Business leaders blast the mayor for downtown crime. High-stakes debate over sports wagering. And omicron is here in Chicago.

Spotlight Politics: Sports Wagering Tax, Casinos Coming to Town

Mayor Lori Lightfoot gambles on a 2% Chicago sports betting tax, but some aldermen aren’t playing.  (WTTW News)

Sports betting, casinos, and COVID-19 bills in Springfield. Our politics team weighs in on that and more.

City Investing $1 Billion in Affordable Housing Projects

(WTTW News)

“We envision a city where every resident, no matter age, income, identity, ability, has the opportunities and the resources to lead comfortable lives in the communities they call home,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

The Week in Review: Latino Caucus Blasts New Map, Files for Public Vote

Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward) carries the map crafted by the City Council's Latino Caucus into the city clerk's office Thursday, Dec. 2, 2020. (Heather Cherone/WTTW News)

Jussie Smollett on trial again for alleged fake hate crime attack. City ward remap deadline comes and goes as Black and Latino alderpeople still at odds. COVID-19 cases skyrocket with Omicron variant now in the U.S., and more.

The Week in Review: Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty on All Charges

Illinois teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, has been acquitted of all charges against him in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nov. 19, 2021. (WTTW News via CNN)

Live in Kenosha as Kyle Rittenhouse is found not guilty on all charges. A controversial police union leader retires from the Chicago Police Department. And city council tussles over new ward maps.

Spotlight Politics: COPA Nominee Controversy; Ward Map Battle Continues

Andrea Kersten, interim chief of Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom, July 21, 2021. (WTTW News)

The mayor’s choice to lead the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has caused some controversy with City Council members.

The Week in Review: No School for CPS Kids; City Workers Get Two Hours Off

(WTTW News)

Chicago school kids get a day off to get COVID vaccines. Kyle Rittenhouse gives emotional testimony in his Kenosha murder trial. Illinois’ richest resident vows to take down Pritzker. And more.

The Week in Review: Kyle Rittenhouse Case, Heather Mack Arrested After Return

A juror was dismissed on the third day of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial for making a joke about a white police officer shooting Jacob Blake who is Black.  (WTTW via CNN)

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse gets underway in Kenosha. CPS cancels classes for Nov. 12 as CDC OKs vaccine for kids. More fallout from the Chicago Park District sex abuse scandal. And Rahm Emanuel is one step closer to becoming Ambassador to Japan.

Spotlight Politics: New Map Pits Republicans, Democrats Against Themselves

(WTTW News)

The state’s political landscape is shuffling with the new congressional map and the political fallout of the Chicago Park District sex abuse scandal. Our Spotlight Politics team on that and more. 

The Week in Review: Kinzinger Not Running; Newman vs. Casten

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (WTTW News)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger plans to call it quits after the remap. Springfield lawmakers take on abortion. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s big spending budget gets approved. And the Chicago Blackhawks are reeling from a sexual misconduct investigation. 

The Week in Review: Police Union Fights City; Governor Floats Lifting Masks

(WTTW News)

The police union is in a standoff with the mayor over vaccine mandates. Remap proposals are drawing ire from all sides. Rahm Emanuel, at his confirmation hearing, apologizes for Laquan McDonald. And the city celebrates the Sky.

Remap Battle: New Congressional Map Upsets GOP, Some Democrats

(PartTime Portraits / Unsplash)

Despite holding all the power, Democratic state lawmakers are getting pushback from both sides of the aisle for the newly drawn congressional map which shrinks the number Republican House members from five to three.

The Week in Review: FOP Threatens Short Staff in Battle Over Vaccine Mandate

Mayor Lori Lightfoot went to Cook County court to stop the Fraternal Order of Police and its president, John Catanzara, from blocking the city’s vaccine mandate. (WTTW News)

The president of the police union urges a walk off over the mayor's vaccine mandate. Illinois' Democrats move against Republicans in drawing new congressional maps. The embattled park district CEO steps down. And the Chicago Sky soar in the WNBA finals.

City Council Members on Chicago’s Homicide Numbers, Upheaval at the Park District

(Jürgen Polle / Pixabay)

Four City Council members share their thoughts on the mayor’s budget proposal, the embattled park district, and more.

The Week in Review: Two Leaders Meet to Settle Heated Public Battle

(WTTW News)

Mayor Lightfoot and State’s Attorney Kim Foxx have been at odds. President Biden completed his previously postponed visit to Chicago tout vaccine mandates. And the White Sox struggle as playoffs get underway.

The Week in Review: City Braces for Possible Bears Move to the Burbs

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a lot to say about the Bears moving to Arlington Heights and the future of Soldier Field, Sept. 29, 2021. (WTTW News)

Are the Chicago Bears bound for Arlington Heights? The Obamas finally break ground in Jackson Park. Chicago R&B singer R. Kelly is convicted for sex trafficking. And two local media giants plan to merge.

CPS Parents Demand More COVID Testing, Remote Learning Option

(WTTW News)

Most Chicago Public Schools students have now been back in the classroom for over a week, but some parents, teachers and students say they don’t feel safe from COVID-19 in school buildings — and they’re demanding access to remote learning. 

Cook County Kicks Off 3rd Annual Racial Equity Week

“We've committed to strategies and measurable outcomes that hold us accountable to the public. It's not enough just to talk about equity. We must act,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Chicago Bears Season Preview With James ‘Big Cat’ Williams

The NFL season officially kicks off Thursday, but the Bears have to wait until Sunday for their prime-time matchup with the Rams. James “Big Cat” Williams, former offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears from 1991 to 2002, offers his take on the season.

Survivor of ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ Writes Book About Experiences

A still image taken from a scene with Julie Rodgers in the Netflix documentary “Pray Away.” (Credit: Netflix)

A one-on-one discussion with Julie Rodgers, the first openly gay chaplain at Wheaton College who is featured in the Netflix documentary, “Pray Away.” She’s also the author of the new book “Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story.”