Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American woman appointed to the Senate, representing Illinois as a Democrat from 1993 to 1999. After a thirty-year career in politics and public service, serving, among other positions, as the Ambassador to New Zealand, Moseley Braun turned to the private sector. She founded her own USDA-certified organic and biodynamic company called Good Food Organics in 2002 and under its umbrella sells Ambassador Organics, a line of food products which currently includes teas, coffee, cocoa, and olive oil. Biodynamics is a holistic agricultural approach that involves crop diversification, the maintenance of on-farm biodiversity preserves such as marshes and forests, and the avoidance of chemicals and off-farm products. For Moseley Braun, biodynamics is a way “to heal our bodies and our farmland.” She grew up between Bronzeville, Park Manor, and Chatham, and currently resides in Hyde Park.
Lee Hogan grew up in Sledge, Mississippi, graduating from Quitman County High in 1962. She came to Chicago that winter and began waiting tables. She has owned and operated her own restaurant, Miss Lee’s Good Food, in Washington Park for the last eighteen years.
In this, the Weekly’s third annual Interview Issue, you’ll find five long, thoughtful interviews with artists, motivators, and city leaders.
I grew up in Chicago; in my earliest years I grew up around Humboldt Park. It’s really funny, people ask me how did I come to work wherever it was—West Side, South Side. I was one of two Anglo kids in my school, so when people ask me about why I choose to work with diverse populations or whatever bizarre verbiage or politically correct verbiage du jour that there is floating around, I’m never sure how to really put that forward. The reality is I work with people that I grew up with, that are really to me the primary comfortable real everyday people. I guess as a white woman I’ve noticed people put this frame on me of, “Well, you’re this person working here, this is not the same.”
Fred Evans is a swim coach at South Shore International College Prep, a selective enrollment school located on 75th and Jeffery. He has coached swimming in Chicago for over forty years, starting at Chicago State in 1974 and then moving on to Chicago South Swim Club, the first integrated swim team in the city. Before he was a coach, he swam at the collegiate level, where he became the first African American national swimming champion in the United States. His daughter Ajá Evans was an Olympic bobsledder and his son Frederick Evans III played in the NFL for nine years.
Theresa Mah spent the first part of her career studying history, but now she is on the cusp of making it. Mah will be running unopposed in this November’s general election to represent the 2nd District—which includes Chinatown, Bridgeport, and Pilsen—in the Illinois House of Representatives. If she wins, she will be the first-ever Asian American legislator in the Illinois General Assembly. In this interview, the McKinley Park resident shares her thoughts about where she has been and where she is headed.
There are few services with as consistent a range of public trust—and as little public understanding—as the 911 emergency system. This past City Bureau cycle, a team of reporters set out to understand how the Office of Emergency Management and Communications handled 911 calls in Chicago, and what stories there were to be told about the dispatch system. We found that there are few resources to offer dispatchers help with chronic PTSD that can affect their job performance, that the outsourced language translation system can lag at critical times, and there remains enough distrust in 911’s relationship to police in Chicago for some groups to seek to bypass it altogether.
—Yana Kunichoff, City Bureau
We are in the midst of a youth revolution & renaissance in Chicago, the beacon/center for the country/planet. Young artists & activists are using their voices & bodies & organizing abilities to change the way the city/country listens & thinks about the vibrancy & beauty of Black narratives.