Stories by Erica Gunderson

Children and instructors at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning. (Erica Gunderson / WTTW News)

60 Years After 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Legacy of Four Young Girls Lives on at Carole Robertson Center

Every year, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning holds ceremonies and social justice activities in remembrance of Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol McNair — the four little girls killed in a 1963 white supremacist attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Celebración de los Árboles 2022. (Courtesy of Morton Arboretum)

Get Back to Your Roots at Morton Arboretum for Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

This month, the Morton Arboretum is inviting people to get back in touch with their roots with a variety of events and programs highlighting Latino cultures and communities, beginning with the Celebración de los Árboles on Sept. 16-17.

Dr. Juan Mendoza (left) is a professor, protein engineer and computational biologist at the University of Chicago. (WTTW News)

University of Chicago Professor Helps Bring Students From Diverse Backgrounds Into the Lab

This year, Juan Mendoza was named a Freeman Hrabowski Scholar by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which funds efforts to bring more scientists from diverse backgrounds into scientific institutions. Mendoza said he got right to work on recruiting.

File photo of a child in a classroom. (WTTW News)

With Federal Funding Ending, Child Care Advocates Warn of Looming Cliff

A report from the Century Foundation shows that without pandemic-era federal funding, thousands of providers would no longer be able to hire and pay staff, meaning rapid shutdowns in families with small children fending for themselves.

After his son (right) died, photographer Jose Refugio “Fugie” Almanza created a scholarship fund. (Provided)

Joseph Jr. Scholarships Seek Latino Applicants for College Funds

After photographer Jose Refugio “Fugie” Almanza tragically lost his 12-year-old son, Almanza sought to turn his pain into purpose. He founded the Joseph Jr. Scholarship Foundation, which aims to help Latinos fund their college educations.

A girl eats at Luella’s Southern Kitchen. (WTTW News)

Support Small Businesses During Black Restaurant Weeks, Sept. 10-24

The National Black Restaurant Weeks campaign is returning to Chicago with two full weeks of specials and events at 35 Black-owned eateries.

In her book “Homecoming: El Viaje a Mi Hogar,” Margarita Quiñones Peña describes the migrant journey to Chicago through her own eyes as a child coming to her new home of Chicago in 1993. (Courtesy of Margarita Quiñones Peña)

Children’s Book by Chicago DACA Recipient Tells Story of Migration Through a Child’s Eyes

In her book “Homecoming: El Viaje a Mi Hogar,” Margarita Quiñones Peña describes the migrant journey to Chicago through her own eyes as a child coming to her new home of Chicago in 1993.

People make candles during a class at Above Average Candle Studio. (Erica Gunderson / WTTW News)

Creating Candles and Connections at Above Average Candle Studio

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every facet of our lives and left many people feeling disconnected. At a North Park studio, owner and instructor Ogi Merzier-Emiabata brings people together with candle-making classes.

Volunteers with Todo Para Todos organize clothing. (Courtesy of Todo Para Todos)

Volunteer-Run Migrant Shelter Todo Para Todos Ends 5-Month Run in Pilsen

Since May, organizers with the volunteer collective Todo Para Todos said they’ve hosted 260 residents and have found permanent housing for more than 150 of them. The shelter ended its operations this past weekend.

The 79th Street Renaissance Festival. (Courtesy of Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation)

79th Street Renaissance Festival Celebrates Auburn Gresham Community, Sept. 9

The 18th annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival returns to Auburn Gresham on Saturday, Sept. 9, with entertainment, food, community resources and a carnival including a 50-foot-tall Ferris wheel.

People at Grace and Peace Community Church have stepped up to help migrants. (WTTW News)

One ‘Whirlwind’ Year In, Community Groups Assisting Migrants Say There’s Much More Work Ahead

From the moment the first bus of migrants arrived in Chicago a year ago, much of the ongoing work of supporting migrants has been done by volunteers, mutual aid groups and community organizers who swung into action.

Students walking at Chicago State University. (WTTW News)

With Forbearance Period Over and Forgiveness Gone, What’s Next for Student Loan Debt

The picture for student loan debt has been pretty tumultuous over the last couple of years. Borrowers will soon begin repaying their federal student loans after a forbearance period ends this month.

Captain Bill Pinkney (Facebook)

Captain Bill Pinkney, Pioneering Sailor, Dies at 87

In 1992, native South Sider Captain Bill Pinkney became the first African American to sail around the world solo via the Southern Capes. It was a feat that took 22 months, which he chronicled in a video diary and in a documentary.

A mural honoring longtime U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis on Chicago’s West Side. (WTTW News)

Safer Foundation Unveils Mural Honoring US Rep. Danny Davis in East Garfield Park

The nonprofit Safer Foundation provides assistance to citizens returning from incarceration. Much of its work is made possible thanks to the Second Chance Act, which was championed by longtime U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis and passed in 2008 with bipartisan support.

(WTTW News)

Examining Effects of Extreme Heat in Chicago’s Black Communities

Chicago is one of 18 cities participating in the Heat Watch 2023 program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in which community volunteers collect temperature and humidity data to analyze for underlying reasons and potential mitigation efforts.

(Courtesy of Tammy McCann)

Jazz Up Your Labor Day Weekend at the Chicago Jazz Festival

Labor Day weekend will once again be filled with the sounds of jazz at the Chicago Jazz Festival, a four-day showcase of all forms of jazz including a lineup of local, national and international artists.

(Courtesy of Efrain Soriano / Borderless magazine)

After July Flooding, Communities Express Interest in Green Infrastructure Improvements

After the July 2 storm that caused catastrophic flooding across Chicago’s West Side and some western suburbs, many residents are still dealing with the damage. Now, some of those communities are exploring green infrastructure solutions that can help prevent future flooding events.

(Courtesy of Future Rootz)

Emerging Latino Music Takes Over Navy Pier at LatiNxt, Aug. 26-27

The LatiNxt Music Festival returns to Navy Pier this weekend with two full days and nights of performances showcasing up-and-coming Latino artists.

(Courtesy of Villapalooza)

Villapalooza Returns to Rock Little Village, Aug. 26

The pandemic put 26th Street’s annual Villapalooza music festival on hold for a few years — but on Saturday, it’s back with more space than ever for young local artists to showcase their community and culture.

Larry Snelling and Mayor Brandon Johnson shake hands while addressing the media during a press conference announcing Snelling’s appointment as the Chicago Police Department’s superintendent Aug. 14, 2023. (WTTW News)

Residents React to Chicago Top Cop Selection, Share Hopes for Community Engagement: ‘It’s a Two-Way Street’

If confirmed as superintendent, Larry Snelling faces a delicate balancing act — addressing the crime and violence that have plagued Chicago while also changing the way CPD trains and disciplines its officers.

(WTTW News)

Black Students Face Continuing Challenges in Chicago Public Schools

Data has shown that Black students in CPS schools are disproportionately subject to discipline, underrepresented in the city’s top-rated high schools and have to travel the farthest of any demographic group to get to school.

Puerto Rican Arts Alliance music project

‘Somos Un Solo Pueblo, Mexico y Puerto Rico’ Creates Cultural Connections Aug. 26

A first-ever concert will bring the musical traditions of Chicago’s two largest Latino communities together at Millennium Park.

A Ladies of Virtue mentor works with a group of girls. (WTTW News)

‘The Last Word’ on Providing Positive Role Models for Black Girls

In her sophomore year of college, Jamila Trimuel became a mentor. In 2011, she started her own organization, Ladies of Virtue, which offers mentorship and support to girls ages 9-18.

(Courtesy of Silver Room Block Party)

In Its 18th Year, Silver Room Block Party Gets Ready for Its Last Dance

Today, the Silver Room Block Party is a massive event in Hyde Park: Tens of thousands of people gather to dance, eat, shop and celebrate. But it all began as a small customer appreciation party in a Wicker Park alley.

Students walking. (WTTW News)

Navigating College Applications After Affirmative Action

Considerations start with getting admitted and continue with questions of an institution’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion once students get inside the gates.

(WTTW News)

Northwestern Medicine Study Suggests Multidisciplinary Care Best for Long COVID Patients

The Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center released the results of a study on 1,200 long COVID patients. According the CDC, one in five COVID-19 patients experienced long COVID three months later, about 150 million adults in the U.S.