Stories by Erica Gunderson

(Credit: OPEN Center for the Arts)

Learn to Make Calaveras, the Decorated Sugar Skulls for Dia de los Muertos, in Little Village on Oct. 15-16

Through the month of October, a series of events called “Journey Chicago” is taking place at cultural heritage centers across the city and suburbs. 

(Credit: We Walk Lawndale)

‘We Walk Lawndale’ Outdoor Exhibit Celebrates Black Culture Oct. 16

The Haitian American Museum of Chicago, in collaboration with the North Lawndale Pop Up Spot and Crossing Borders Music, are hosting an upcoming traveling exhibit kicking off Oct. 16 in North Lawndale.

Permanent Punishment Conversation: Finding a Path Forward for the Formerly Incarcerated

The Paper Prisons Initiative estimates more than 500,000 people are eligible to have their records cleared. But advocates say that’s not happening for many of them. It’s an issue that disproportionately affects Black people, particularly in the Chicago area, says Aisha Edwards, executive director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks about the county’s cash assistance program on May 18, 2022. (WTTW News)

Applications Now Open for Cook County Guaranteed Income Pilot

The guaranteed income pilot program, known as Cook County Promise, began accepting applications this week. Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, the program will pay 3,250 residents of Cook County $500 a month for two years.

(WTTW News)

‘Hypocrisy of Justice’ Symposium to Explore Current Issues of Injustice in Chicago

On Saturday, Oct. 8, activists, scholars, artists and journalists are convening at the Logan Center for the Arts in moderated discussions centered on the themes of injustice explored in Richard Wright’s 1940 novel “Native Son.”

Chicago City Hall. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Chicago City Council’s Mass Exodus: A ‘Latino Voices’ Crossover Conversation

At least 13 Chicago wards are set for new City Council leadership come next year due to an exodus of alderpeople. And while a few of those existing City Council members are leaving their seats to run for higher office, many are saying they’re opting out simply because it’s time to move on.

Chicago City Hall (Heather Cherone / WTTW News)

What Does City Council Turnover Mean for Chicago? A ‘Black Voices’ Crossover Conversation

For aspiring alderpeople, the next city election presents plenty of opportunity. With a large portion of the City Council set to turn over in 2023, political organizations are lining up candidates to duke it out and stake their claim in Chicago’s wards to help determine the city’s future.

Ale Gabino and David Acevedo, owners of the Hōkūle’a Academy of Polynesian Arts. (WTTW News)

Local Couple Gets Chicagoans Hip to Polynesian Dance

Ale Gabino and David Acevedo are both lifelong dancers. After meeting at a 2003 Polynesian dance competition in Hilo, Hawaii, they married in 2009. A year later, they opened Hōkūle’a Academy of Polynesian Arts, where together, they teach their other great love – Polynesian culture and dance.

Belinda and Maritza Cervantes, the frontwomen of The Luna Blues Machine. (WTTW News)

Featuring Chicago Sisters, The Luna Blues Machine Blends Genres and Harmonies for Unique Sound

Being in a band together can be a strain on any relationship — even between siblings. But sisters Belinda and Maritza Cervantes, the frontwomen of The Luna Blues Machine, say they’ve managed to keep working together in perfect harmony.

El Churro Shop in Little Village. (WTTW News)

El Churro Shop Makes Old Traditions New on 26th Street in Little Village

“Crunchy outside, soft center, golden brown and delicious” – that’s how Aldo Rios, owner of El Churro Shop in Little Village, describes the perfect churro. 

(Credit: Courtesy of Chicago Latino Theater Alliance)

‘Destinos’ Latino Theater Festival Returns for Hispanic Heritage Month

The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance’s annual festival “Destinos” returns this month to showcase Latino theater companies, artists and stories. 

Courtesy of Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events)

Savor the Sabor: Latin Restaurant Weeks Return to Chicago

From now through Sept. 30, 40 local restaurants are offering specially priced menus and menu items. Latin Restaurant Weeks founder Karinn Chavarria says there’s never been a better time to taste what Chicago has to offer.

(Credit: Eventnoire)

Local Black-Led Tech Startups Get Funding Boost from Google

The leaders of events management platform Eventnoire and revenue management tool for the vacation rental industry Buoy Pricing were awarded $100,000 each from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. 

(WTTW News)

Report Finds Black Workers Overrepresented in Low-Wage Roles

This month, the Shriver Center released a report based on interviews with low-wage workers across Illinois. It found people like home health aides, rideshare workers and warehouse workers struggle with not just low wages but a lack of benefits, insufficient safety protections and job security.

Enchúfate’s Sandra Treviño has music picks. (WTTW News)

Music Picks to Get Your Playlist Party-Ready for Hispanic Heritage Month

Music is an integral part of any celebration – and that includes Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially began this week, and Enchúfate’s Sandra Treviño wants to get you ready to party.

A page from “Stella Keeps the Sun Up” by Clothilde Ewing.

Chicago Mom Brings Black Characters Who Are Sunny, Silly and Fun to Kid’s Literature

The children’s section at your local library is probably overflowing with books about figures in Black history and illustrations of the Black experience in America. While those depictions are important for children to see, they aren’t always — well fun. That was the experience of author Clothilde Ewing.

(WTTW News)

Traffic Deaths Are On Rise This Year. How Does Chicago’s Segregation Impact Safety?

Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that the rates of traffic-related deaths are the highest they’ve been in 20 years. An analysis by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests Latino and Black Americans are disproportionately affected by vehicular fatalities. 

(Credit: Pilsen Fest)

Get Your Grito On at Pilsen Fest, Sept. 17 and 18

Chicago’s festival season and Hispanic Heritage Month are due to intersect at 18th Street and Blue Island on Sept. 17 and 18 when Pilsen Fest brings Mexican art, music, and of course food to the heart of the historic neighborhood.

A painting by Raspy Rivera on display. (WTTW News)

‘La Ultima Palabra’ on Leaning into Life’s U-Turns

The acting career of Raspy Rivera was derailed by an injury in 2020. But she says that injury wound up being a life-changing gift. 

Pullman porters. (WTTW)

A Look Back at Pullman Porters’ Push for Labor Rights

In 1925, the all-Black, all-male workers organized and founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in hopes of forcing the Pullman Company to the bargaining table.

Chicago police car. (WTTW News)

Interim Police Oversight Commissioners Begin Work to Restore Trust

This week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the names of seven interim commissioners who will make up the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, Chicago’s first civilian police oversight board. The group is charged with a tall order: rebuilding public trust in the department.

(Credit: Ballet Folklorico Yolotzin)

Get Stuffed with Latino Culture at Whiting Empanada Fest on Sept. 10

On Saturday, Sept. 10, sweet and savory empanadas take center stage in a one-day festival at Whiting Lakefront Park along with cultural performances by local music and dance groups

A downy woodpecker turns upside down. (Credit: Jorge Garcia)

A Chicago Native Wants You to Know Birding is for Everyone

Jorge Garcia wasn’t always a bird paparazzo – in fact, he’s only been at it for a couple of years, after a gear upgrade for his job as a technologist took an unexpected turn. The fledgling interest soon hatched into a full-blown hobby.

(WTTW News)

Unemployment Rate for Black Chicagoans More than Double Rate for White Residents. Community Organizations Working to Close the Gap.

While the overall unemployment rate for Chicago is nearly 5.8% in August, the rate for Black residents is more than twice that, at 14.3%.

(WTTW News)

Get Home Safe: Tips for Avoiding Scams in Chicago’s Tight Rental Market

According to city data, 60% of Chicagoans live in rental properties, and a June report by real estate platform Domu finds the median rent for one-bedroom apartments in Chicago is up 8% since January. With fierce competition for apartments, the city’s renters – many of whom are Black– are more vulnerable targets for scammers and shady landlords.

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools Pilot Program Aims to Bring More Black Men into Teaching Field

According to CPS data, fewer than 4% of CPS teachers are Black men. In a school district where 36% percent of students are Black, that’s a striking imbalance.