On Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, Public Narrative hosted its first Unpacking Narratives event featuring its inaugural theme, “Journalism and the Struggle of Activation” discussed by Invisible Institute’s Jamie Kalven and Yohance Lacour.

Through their individual and shared journeys, Kalven and Lacour explored the state of journalism and activism and the struggle to combine them in ways that uphold the highest standards of journalistic rigor while respecting community dignity.

About the speakers

Jamie Kalven is a writer and the founder of the Invisible Institute. The impact of Jamie’s decades-long work in human rights and investigative reporting has been felt across the city and beyond. Notably, Jamie was the plaintiff in Kalven v. Chicago in 2014, in which the Illinois appellate court ruled that documents bearing on allegations of police misconduct are public information. Additionally, his reporting in Slate in 2015 first brought the police shooting of Laquan McDonald to public attention, and he co-produced 16 Shots, the Emmy-winning documentary on the McDonald case. And, in 2016, he published a series titled “Code of Silence” in The Intercept that exposed the criminal activities of a team of corrupt Chicago officers and has contributed to the exonerations of 183 individuals.

Yohance Lacour is a Chicago South Side native and writer committed to telling stories of Black Chicago from the ground. After serving a decade-long sentence in federal prison, the entrepreneur, playwright and journalist resumed his work of Black storytelling and is currently working on a podcast, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’” which revisits the story of Lenard Clark, a then 13-year-old Black teen in 1997 who was beaten to a coma by several white teens while riding his bike in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Yohance is also the owner and artist behind YJL, a luxury leather label that has been featured in numerous publications for his work, including New City Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Inside Look, and Smithsonian Magazine.

Our partners

Thank you to our venue partner Retreat at Currency Exchange, a concept by Theaster Gates and Rebuild Foundation supporting the Washington Park community and beyond, with a focus on amplifying and providing space for Black creatives, entrepreneurs, and artists.

We’d also like to thank Invisible Institute for its promotional support. The South Side-based nonprofit journalism production company works to enhance the capacity to hold public institutions accountable. Among the tactics, Invisible Institute employs investigative reporting, multimedia storytelling, human rights documentation, the curation of public information and the orchestration of difficult public conversations. The award-winning organization’s work coheres around a central principle: We as citizens have co-responsibility with the government for maintaining respect for human rights and, when abuses occur, for demanding redress.


Photography of the event was taken by Connor Sorrell, Public Narrative intern and Adler University student. Additional photography was taken and donated to Public Narrative by Dawaune Lamont Hayes community member and event attendee.

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