Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in our April 7 ‘PN Updates’ newsletter and has been updated to reflect website publication.

For those of you who have attended a “Shame of Chicago, Shame of a Nation” screening, you’ve witnessed powerful narratives unfold that resonate deeply with our city’s history and current social landscape.

Photo: Olivia Obineme

Earlier this month, we gathered within the historical walls of the Chicago History Museum to attend the premiere of “Shame of Chicago,” part of a four-part series soon to debut on WTTW and PBS. The series opened a profound discourse on the origins of America’s modern-day racial divide and wealth gap.

This event was a viewing and a dialogue, with documentary creators and scholars discussing the series’ first episode and what’s ahead. The conversation, moderated by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore and enriched by insights from director Bruce Orenstein, producer Chris L. Jenkins, and literary scholar and University of Chicago professor Adrienne Brown, underscored the documentary’s focus on centering Black voices and experiences as well as the roles of allyship. It shed light on Chicago’s history of segregation and its persistent resistance.

The Chicago Association of REALTORS® also hosted a screening of the second episode of the “Shame of Chicago” documentary series at the DuSable Museum last week. Photo: Jhmira Alexander

But this screening was merely a prologue to a much larger story. In partnership with The Field Foundation and alongside committed newsrooms—Chicago News Weekly, Borderless Magazine, South Side Weekly, Chicago Defender, and Investigative Project on Race and Equity—we are also unraveling narratives of segregation and migration woven into our city’s fabric.

Our collective efforts are part of a statewide push emboldened by the substantial support of the Healing Illinois initiative. Through this partnership, which has seen the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Field Foundation disburse $4.5 million in grants, we’ve joined forces with 184 community organizations to ignite racial healing and sustain the dialogue that leads to understanding, empathy —and change.

Learn more about the Healing Illinois initiative and the 2024 participants’ activities through the IDHS Healing Illinois social media platforms. Graphic: Healing Illinois Instagram account.

Prepare to engage with the narratives the participating newsrooms explore. They are poised to do more than inform. These critical issues are being thoroughly reported on to spark education and transformation and to sew the seeds of healing throughout our communities.

We invite you to immerse yourselves in the stories published later this month and join us in purposeful discourse in planning.

The broadcast premiere of “Shame of Chicago, Shame of the Nation” will air starting April 18, 2024 on
WTTW and WVON Radio’s digital streaming network VONTv. Graphic: “Shame of Chicago” documentary Instagram account.

For more information on the “Shame of Chicago” documentary and upcoming screenings, please visit shameofchicagodoc.org.

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If you have questions about our Healing Illinois participation, please email Public Narrative’s director of journalism and media engagement, Olivia Obineme, at engage@publicnarrative.org.