Between her first mayoral run in 2014 and now, Dr. Amara Enyia hasn’t slowed down in her efforts to effect change in Chicago. She co-authored the book Chicago Is Not Broke and founded the Institute for Cooperative Economics and Economic Innovation, a social lab focusing on educating and assisting in the expansion of innovative economic models. On Tuesday, Enyia will launch her second mayoral bid at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. The thirty-five-year-old, running with the slogan “all people, all voices, one city,” draws on a legacy of activism stretching back to her great-grandmother’s village in Nigeria.
When I walk into Gabriel Piemonte’s campaign office, he’s leaning over a set of newly laminated 5th Ward maps, highlighting the South Shore blocks he plans to walk over the coming months. The office itself, in a storefront along 71st Street, is sparsely furnished—a single bookshelf, a few posters, chairs and a sofa near the door. During our interview, Piemonte notes that he’s hoping to turn it into a public art gallery, or maybe a lecture space. Still, he might be forgiven for worrying about bigger problems first, such as the fact that his opponent in the race for 5th Ward alderman, five-term incumbent Leslie Hairston, has approximately $20,000 more cash at hand than he does. (According to his last quarterly report, Piemonte’s got $750 in his campaign committee account, though he has spent about $20,000 campaigning over the last ten months.) He recently received his first endorsement, from the South Side chapter of Democracy for America, the political organization of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
In the thirty-one years since Harold Washington died at his City Hall desk, there have been two elected mayors of Chicago, both white. The first was Richard M. Daley, purveyor of privatized parking meter deals and failed Olympic bids, and heir to the Daley political dynasty. He was succeeded in 2011 by Rahm Emanuel, once—to quote a childhood acquaintance—a “hyper-intelligent [bully]” on the North Shore, now a neoliberal cheerleader governing primarily for the benefit of the city’s financial class. Neither faced a serious electoral challenge until 2015, when Jesus “Chuy” García (once a Washington disciple himself) forced Emanuel into a run-off, though even the result there wasn’t particularly close.
Earlier this year Jesús “Chuy” García scored a victory in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ lone Latinx-majority congressional seat. Born in a village in Durango, Mexico, if he’s elected to the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez in November he’ll be the first Mexican-American to represent Illinois in Congress. García’s been a Cook County commissioner representing the Southwest Side for the past seven years and forced a runoff mayoral election in 2015 between himself and incumbent Rahm Emanuel. García spoke to 90 Days, 90 Voices about his personal connection to La Villita and what he sees as its future.
On the night of April 3, an officer of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) shot a student in the grips of a mental health crisis. Charles Thomas, who had been wielding a metal pole and smashing windows, and who the officer identified as undergoing a mental health crisis before shooting him in the shoulder, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville to receive treatment. Over the following two weeks, he was charged with eight felonies, including assaulting a police officer.
Oftentimes, zakat is sent abroad to various countries suffering with injustices—but it is important to show that some of that same brutality is happening in the United States to people in jail,” said Nabihah Maqbool, an organizer with Believers Bail Out (BBO) and law student at the University of Chicago, earlier this month at a gathering of Muslim organizers at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hyde Park. BBO, a recently-formed coalition of Muslim organizations working with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, collects zakat—the portion of income Muslims are required to donate to charity—for the purposes of freeing Muslims in Cook County Jail who can’t afford to post bond.
Linda Gartz’s family lived three generations in West Garfield Park, from the time her father was born in 1914, when it “was a neighborhood of wooden sidewalks, dirt streets, and butterflies fluttering above open prairies” to her senior year of high school in 1966. By the time the family moved away, racial riots had destabilized the neighborhood, and white residents were fleeing for the suburbs. Gartz’s new memoir, Redlined, combines recent scholarship on redlining with the intimacy of a treasure trove of diaries her parents kept throughout the years. The result is a compelling chronicle of both a neighborhood’s journey and a personal one, as Gartz pieces together her past and works to place the events of her childhood in historical context.
Reparations Won!” a white sheet cake boasted in blue lettering. The names of survivors of torture by detectives within the Chicago Police Department hung from clotheslines draped across the walls. A dozen cardstock letters from CPD torture survivors who remain in prison dangled by pink string from the ceiling. On orange and pink post-it notes, questions like “What do you want the world to know about your mom?” and “What gives you hope?”—and corresponding answers like “Artists give me hope!”—colored the windows. A microphone stand arose from a makeshift stage set up in front of two large banners reading “Consent is Everything” and “You Are Never Alone.” Among all of this, over fifty activists, young and old—torture survivors, their mothers, and their allies—greeted each other, hugged, ate, and mingled.
This week on SSW Radio we talked with two new artists about their new releases and got a recap of Chicago’s bond system
For D’onminique Boyd, it was the 65th Street Community Garden that turned Woodlawn into a home. She had moved there in 2011, and had taken to biking around to familiarize herself with the neighborhood. One morning, she biked by the garden and saw Tony Samford, 65th Street’s “godfather of gardening,” as she would later come to call him, tending to his plot. She asked what he was growing; he told her to come back the next day at 6am, and he would teach her.