Stories by Erica Gunderson

‘Our People’ 1968 Interview: Diahann Carroll

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.

‘Begin Again’ Book Revisits James Baldwin’s Body of Work

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.

New Plan ‘Protect Chicago Plus’ Guiding City’s Vaccine Distribution

(WTTW News)

Chicago has launched a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan that partners with community organizations to get vaccinations to people in the 15 communities most impacted by the pandemic. Carmen Vergara of Esperanza Health Centers tells us more.

La Ultima Palabra: Rafael Esparza

Rafael Esparza (WTTW News)

Chef Rafael Esparza has worked in some of Chicago’s most storied kitchens. As part of our series, he gives us the last word on how works of mutual aid give cover to failures of public policy.

Housing Insecurity a Year-Round Problem in Chicago, Advocates Say

A homeless encampment in Chicago. (WTTW News)

This month’s deep freeze has left Chicago’s homeless residents in deadly peril. But housing insecurity is not just an extreme-weather problem, some advocates say, and the city needs to take a bolder approach to housing policy.

How the Torture Archive, Justice Center Are Helping Survivors Heal

A new archive detailing the experiences of police torture survivors went online this month. We hear from two people who are helping those survivors heal.

‘Our People’ 1969 Interview: George Kirby

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.

New Book ‘White Fright’ Investigates Roots of American Racism

“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.

Dr. Julie Morita: Vaccine Distribution Needs ‘A Shot of Equity’

(WTTW News)

Recent data indicates Latino and Black populations are getting vaccinated at half the rate of white populations. Dr. Julie Morita, a member of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 task force, gives us a shot in the arm on vaccine equity.

What Children Should Be Learning About Black History

(WTTW News)

With Black history month underway, we take a closer look at how and what we teach our children about Black history with state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher, and Maureen Tatsuko Loughnane, executive director of the nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves.

The Last Word: Jermaine Anderson

Jermaine Anderson (WTTW News)

The founder of a nonprofit that mentors young men in the Chicago area tells us what it means to be a gentleman.

‘Our People’ 1968 Interview: Godfrey Cambridge

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

The comedian and actor known for his sardonic take on culture and society shares his thoughts on policing and crime in Chicago in this interview with Jim Tilmon from the WTTW show “Our People.”

Latinos at Increased Risk of Financial Stress Amid COVID-19

(WTTW News)

Latino communities have been at a heightened risk of infection and death throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But the coronavirus has not only endangered their health, it’s also harming their finances and making them more likely to lose their homes.

Rediscovered Interviews from WTTW Show ‘Our People’ Still Resonate, 50 Years Later

A still image from video shows the late Jim Tilmon as host of “Our People.” (WTTW)

From 1968 to 1972, WTTW aired a groundbreaking weekly show hosted by the late Jim Tilmon. Until recently, we thought all but a couple of episodes had been lost. Chicago author, photographer and architecture critic Lee Bey helps us blow the dust off five of the interviews we recently rediscovered.

New Book ‘US Civil Rights Trail’ A Journey Through Time

Author and journalist Deborah Douglas said that traveling the civil rights trail is an emotional experience, but one that is worth having in person. “I gained a greater appreciation for the African American experience and what my elders were able to accomplish,” she said.

What Will Social Justice, Racial Equity Look Like Under President Biden?

President Joe Biden talks about the rise white supremacy in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2021. (WTTW News via CNN)

The Biden administration has released its racial equity agenda. We talk with the leaders of the National Urban League and its Chicago affiliate about their hopes for the next four years.

Black-Owned Plant Shop Sees Business Bloom During Pandemic

Plant Salon owner Nika Vaughan (WTTW News)

Interest in houseplants has grown during the pandemic and is helping plant parents new and old thrive during a difficult year. We visit the Plant Salon in Noble Square for a look.

A Match That’s ‘Built to Last’: Exploring the Culture of Sisterhood

Denise Gonzalez-Mendez (WTTW News)

The Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program has been making matches in Chicago since 1967, but a lot has changed over the years. Many of the kids now come from Spanish-speaking households, and the organization is looking for more “bigs” who speak their language to volunteer.

Mixed Feelings on Return to Business in Latino Communities

(WTTW News)

As the city begins to stir from its COVID-19 slumber, we talk with local journalists about how the reopening is impacting Latino communities.

The Science Behind the Speed of COVID-19 Vaccine Development

(WTTW News)

It took less than a year for pharmaceutical companies to successfully develop vaccines for COVID-19. The unprecedented time frame has raised questions for some about the vaccine’s safety. We learn about the science behind the shots.

Big Promises: COVID-19 Relief, Vaccines, Jobs, Immigration on Docket

(WTTW News via CNN)

Journalists Brandon Pope (WCIU), Glenn Reedus (Chicago Reporter) and Rachel Hinton (Chicago Sun-Times) look at what’s ahead for the country under the new Biden administration.

Changing Times: What to Expect from Biden Administration

Jesus del Toro, director and general manager of La Raza newspaper, and Jackie Serrato, editor-in-chief of the South Side Weekly newspaper, discuss Inauguration Day and the big changes already underway.

Meet Your Neighbors, Chicago: The Rodriguez Family

Lolly and Bob Rodriguez (Family photo)

For more than four decades, the Rodriguez family has run a community food pantry out of their East Side garage with little more than their own hands.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Seeking Black, Latino Mentors

(WTTW News)

The more than 50-year-old organization is seeking to make cultural connections that help kids achieve their full potential.

In Springfield, Sweeping Changes on Policing and Criminal Justice

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus passes criminal justice legislation. Amanda Vinicky gives us the rundown on a week of sweeping changes in Springfield.

Chicago Poet Leslé Honoré Talks ‘Brown Girl, Brown Girl’

Leslé Honoré (WTTW News)

Following the election of Kamala Harris as vice president in November, Chicago poet Leslé Honoré updated a poem she wrote in 2017 to celebrate the historic nature of Harris’ win.