Stories by marissa nelson

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Village of Riverdale

The Village of Riverdale lags behind the rest of suburban Cook County in vaccinations. As part of our community reporting series, we speak with elected officials, community leaders and physicians about the vaccine rollout, and what they’re doing to make the vaccine more accessible.

US Births in 2020 Dropped to Lowest Level Since 1979

(Free-Photos / Pixabay)

U.S. births dropped to their lowest level in more than 40 years in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How the pandemic is impacting family planning. 

Still a ‘Vast Wasteland’? Newton Minow Reflects on the State of Television

Newton Minow appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, May 10, 2021. (WTTW News)

Newton Minow, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, played a key role in public media. Here’s what he thinks about television today — six decades after his famous “vast wasteland” speech.

Latino Unity Day: Leaders Address Challenges on Many Fronts

People wearing masks line up for a food drive in Brighton Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side on April 23, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s Latino community has been especially affected by the events of the past year, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the fatal police shootings of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez. We discuss key issues community leaders want elected officials to address. 

FDA Announces Plans to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Flavored Cigars

(Myriams-Fotos / Pixabay)

Tobacco companies have long marketed menthol cigarettes to Black Americans. The CEO of the NAACP calls a potential ban of such products “long overdue,” but some people are concerned it could lead to further criminalization of communities of color.

How to Be a Mindful Global Citizen if You’re Traveling Abroad This Summer

(veerasantinithi / Pixabay)

While the U.S. is a leader in vaccinating its residents against COVID-19, many of the destinations Americans often travel to, including several Spanish-speaking countries, have much lower vaccination rates. How to protect yourself and the communities you visit this summer.

Illinois Public Officials Create Mamas Caucus to Support Illinois Mothers, Families

The Mamas Caucus says its goal is to make Illinois the most “mama-friendly” state in the country, said state Rep. Avery Bourne, pictured here with her son. (Courtesy Avery Bourne)

Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and more than 20 other government officials are joining to form the bipartisan Mamas Caucus. Comprising city, county and state leaders, the caucus plans to tackle issues that impact mothers.

‘Black Voices’ Community Conversation: Chauvin Trial Verdict

A screenshot from the “Black Voices” community conversation on Monday, April 26, 2021. (WTTW News)

Brandis Friedman and a panel of guests discuss the Derek Chauvin verdict, including what it means for racial justice and policing in Chicago and the U.S. Watch it now.

US Poverty Rates Reach Pandemic High in March

(Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash)

The U.S. poverty rate last month reached its highest point during the pandemic at 11.7%, according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. We discuss the issue as part of WTTW’s Firsthand initiative exploring poverty.

Community Organizations Want to Help Greater Englewood Get Vaccinated

Part of our ‘Chicago Tonight’ In Your Neighborhood series

The Greater Englewood Area, made up of Englewood and West Englewood, has faced historic disinvestment. Now it’s lagging behind in the percentage of residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19. These community organizations are helping to inform residents about the vaccine and make appointments more accessible.

Community Organizations Call for Investment in Little Village

A memorial of candles and flowers for 13-year-old Adam Toledo sits near the alley where he was killed March 29 by a Chicago police officer. (WTTW News)

Protesters took to the streets this weekend — both in Little Village and other parts of the city — after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability released videos of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. We speak with neighborhood organizations working to help residents.

Little Village Community Responds to ‘Excruciating’ Police Shooting Video

A flyer with the name and face of Adam Toledo, the 13-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer on March 29, is shown on a lamppost in the Little Village neighborhood, where he lived and died. (WTTW News)

Feelings about Adam Toledo’s killing are particularly raw in Little Village, where Toledo’s family lives. We spent the day talking with residents and local leaders about their community, and the fatal shooting of the 13-year-old who called it home.

Chicago’s Mental Health Care Plan Invests in Services, Not Yet Reopening Clinics

(WTTW News)

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration closed half of the city’s clinics. Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned on reopening the centers but has focused her tenure so far on investing in organizations that provide mental health services.

Illinois Universities Plan for Return to Campus in the Fall

Students on the campus of Northwestern University. (WTTW News)

As students wrap up their spring semesters, colleges and universities have started announcing plans for the fall. We discuss the outlook for three area universities.

Little Village Community Leaders Say They Want More Than a Foot Pursuit Policy

A vigil for Adam Toledo, the 13-year-old boy fatally shot by police on March 29, takes place in Little Village on Monday, April 5. (WTTW News)

The Little Village Community Council wants to meet with Mayor Lori Lightfoot about policing policy changes. They also want to meet with the police department about the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

Documenting a Neighborhood Story, ‘Somos Pilsen’ Mural Features 46 Residents

Artist Mateo Zapata talks about the mural “Somos Pilsen.” (WTTW News)

Public art has become synonymous with Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. A new mural on 18th Street is using the medium to preserve the community’s history, and to memorialize dozens of its residents. 

Equity, Privacy Concerns Among Considerations for Vaccine Passports

(WTTW News)

As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands, a growing number of companies say they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors. We weigh the legal and ethical concerns surrounding vaccine passports as the country looks to reopen. 

The Week in Review: Chicago Police Shoot and Kill 13-Year-Old Boy

(WTTW News)

Another attack at the U.S. Capitol. Questions surround the police shooting of a 13-year-old boy. Mixed signals on Chicago police reform. And the mayor warns of a COVID-19 “quantum leap” in the last week.

How Changing the Filibuster Could Impact Bipartisanship

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has said ending the filibuster would bring a “nuclear winter” on the Senate floor. (WTTW News)

A growing number of Democrats see the filibuster, an action designed to delay or prevent a vote on a measure, as a barrier to accomplishing their legislative goals. Is it time to abolish the filibuster?

‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Latinas

A screenshot from the “Latino Voices” community conversation on Monday, March 29, 2021. (WTTW News)

For Women’s History Month, WTTW News shined a light on Latinas, exploring their history in Chicago and the U.S., the adversity they face and the role they play in their communities. Watch the full discussion.

Proposals Could Expand Eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit

(WTTW News via CNN)

Two bills in the Illinois General Assembly would expand eligibility for the earned income tax credit. As part of our Firsthand initiative exploring poverty in Chicago, we take a look at the credit, and what it could mean for low-income households.

Affordable Housing Development in Albany Park Heads to City Council

The site of a 50-unit affordable housing development in Albany Park. (WTTW News)

Plans for a 50-unit affordable housing development are underway in Albany Park, a diverse community on Chicago’s Northwest Side that is not alone in facing gentrification. We discuss housing with Diane Limas of Communities United and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez as part of our community reporting series.

Greektown Outdoor Exhibit Provides Coronavirus-Safe Art Experience

A scene from the “Fanciful Fish” outdoor exhibit along Halsted Street in Greektown. (WTTW News)

A Chicago neighborhood is preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence. And while traditional festivities have been canceled for the second year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Greektown community has still found a way to brighten area streets.

Chicago’s Black and Latino Communities Bearing the Brunt of Pandemic’s Health, Economic Impact

Erica Lopez speaks with “Chicago Tonight” about the death of her mother and father, who both contracted COVID-19. (WTTW News)

From rates of infection to unemployment following the economic shutdown, some residents of Chicago have been cut deeper by the pandemic. We talk about the specific challenges facing hard-hit communities, and some of the support systems in place.

Southern US Border Sees Surge in Migrant Children Crossing

More unaccompanied migrant children are crossing the southern U.S. border. (WTTW News via CNN)

Southwest border crossings are on track to reach the highest level in the last 20 years, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. We discuss what’s happening at the border and how the Biden administration is addressing it.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker Reflects on COVID-19 Pandemic, One Year In

Gov. J.B. Pritzker appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, March 15, 2021. (WTTW News)

It’s been a full year since Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the extraordinary step of issuing an executive order to halt dine-in service at bars and restaurants across the state. Five days later, the stay-at-home order was announced. The governor joins us to reflect on the past year and discuss what’s ahead.