Stories by erica gunderson

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. 

Lawndale Legacy: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Fight for Fair Housing

(WTTW News)

On the 55th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s arrival in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood, we revisit the work he did to end slum conditions and combat discriminatory housing practices.

How Poverty Can Make People Feel Trapped in Violent Homes

(WTTW News)

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one-third of Chicago’s Latinos — the majority of them women — are living in poverty. We explore the relationship between poverty and domestic violence.

La Ultima Palabra: Elizabeth Morales

Elizabeth Morales (WTTW News)

The founder of an arts organization in Little Village gives us the last word on how adversity can spark creative solutions.

Reopening Schools: Are CPS Buildings Making the Grade?

(WTTW News)

For the first time in 10 months, some Chicago Public Schools students are set to return to their school buildings Monday. What parents can expect — and what critics of the plan have to say.

State of Vaccination: How Illinois Can Build Trust Among Black Residents

(WTTW News)

What state governments are doing — and what some think they should be doing — to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the Black community.

The Last Word: Ajanaku and Coffy

Jean-Paul Coffy and Yakini Ajanaku-Coffy (WTTW News)

Married musicians and educators Jean-Paul Coffy and Yakini Ajanaku-Coffy share their thoughts on giving back to the community.

Language Barriers Complicate Remote Learning for Some Families in Chicago

(ArtisticOperations / Pixabay)

Since Chicago Public Schools were closed to in-person learning in March, the move to remote learning has been difficult for many families. But for the CPS families who speak Spanish at home, there is an additional barrier. 

A Conversation With Pianist Jorge Federico Osorio

Jorge Federico Osorio (Courtesy of Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is offering a last-minute gift before 2020 is over: a concert with renowned pianist Jorge Federico Osorio filmed at Orchestra Hall that you can enjoy at home.

COVID-19 and Higher Ed: Students Face Challenges Applying, Paying for College

(WTTW News)

In any year, applying for college can be a stressful time for high school students. But like so many other things this year, the pandemic has made the application process even more uncertain and difficult. 

Sabor Latino: Coquito

(WTTW News)

’Tis the season for the delicious coconut drink that’s a treasured tradition for Puerto Ricans. We share a coquito toast with comedian Mike Oquendo and learn how to whip up a batch at home.

The Importance of Getting Health Care That Speaks Your Language

(WTTW News via CNN)

Communication with your health care providers is crucial for good outcomes, but what happens when you don’t speak the same language? Two local doctors talk about breaking through language barriers in medicine.

ProPublica Investigation Shines Light on Immigrant Teens’ Dangerous Night Shifts

York Community High School in Elmhurst. (WTTW News)

A recent investigation finds immigrant teenagers are illegally employed working night shifts in suburban factories. ProPublica reporter Melissa Sanchez joins us with the story.

Chicago Activists Unite for Better Black and Brown Futures

A solidarity march in Little Village on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (WTTW News)

A new generation of activists and organizers are working to build on past coalitions and bring Chicago’s Black and Brown communities together to end the systemic inequities that have persisted in our city for decades.

Gerri Oliver, Owner of Legendary Bronzeville Tavern, Dies at 101

Gerri Oliver appears in “Precious Memories” in 1987. (WTTW News)

The owner of Gerri’s Palm Tavern appeared in a few WTTW features over the years, including a 1987 special about 47th Street called “Precious Memories.” We revisit that conversation.

Governors State President Cheryl Green on Pandemic, New Administration

Governors State University President Cheryl Green appears on “Chicago Tonight: Black Voices” via Zoom. (WTTW News)

Starting a new job is always demanding, but when that job is university president and the year is 2020, it comes with a few extra challenges. We check in with Cheryl Green, the new president of Governors State University.

Community Unity: Building Bonds Between Black and Latino Chicagoans

A solidarity march in Little Village on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (WTTW News)

This summer, tensions between Black and Latino Chicagoans threatened to explode into violence before activists restored peace, but the incident underlined the sometimes uneasy history between our city’s Black and Latino communities.

Growing Houseplant Sales Put the Green in Greenery for Local Shops

(WTTW News)

With the prospect of a long, dreary winter at home ahead, many Chicagoans are fluffing their nests with houseplants. We check in with some local plant shops to see how business is growing.

‘The Doctors’ Host on Pandemic, Production Protocols and Vaccine Hopes

Dr. Ian Smith (WTTW News)

Dr. Ian Smith has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic from just about every angle. He joins us to discuss the pandemic and the importance of equitable distribution of a vaccine.

The Last Word: C. Spike Trotman

C. Spike Trotman (WTTW News)

As 2020 comes to a close, the events of this unprecedented year have devastated Chicago’s small businesses. Why it’s more important than ever to support neighborhood shops.

How Advocacy Journalism Can Help Communities

Activists in support of defunding the University of Chicago Police Department participate in a march on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (Grace Del Vecchio / WTTW News)

In a year filled with twists and turns, news outlets are more important than ever. We discuss the role of advocacy journalism in effecting positive change for marginalized communities.

Hurricanes Eta, Iota Displace Thousands in Central America

Damage caused by the Category 4 storm Hurricane Iota. (WTTW News via CNN)

In the past three weeks, back-to-back hurricanes landed a double blow on Central American countries. Gonzalo Chavez, consulate general of Honduras, says the situation is dire. Find out how you can help.