Located on the south side of Chicago, Kenwood rises along the shore of Lake Michigan with a mix of 19th century mansions and affordable housing. It’s an area that fights school closures and gun violence, while attracting investment.
Interactive map: More information on our community reporting series
Carver 47 Food and Wellness Market created a space for the neighborhood to explore healthy food options and Southern culture.
Owner Monica Haslip first founded an arts program in a basement 28 years ago, and it has since flourished in little black pearl, a cultural arts center for the community. Now, she and chef Lizz Wright have taken on another task: bringing comfort foods and healthy eating to the neighborhood.
“The pandemic has made all of us a little more health conscious,” Wright said. “It’s important for me to combine comfort and food. I want someone to have a big party cookie and a 16 oz juice. I don’t think you have to choose between the two. »
They offer homemade salads, sandwiches, fresh juices and a variety of natural products for the home.
The cafe is named after George Washington Carver, a leader in agricultural innovation and humanitarianism. Haslip says she wants people to feel inspired when they walk into the café.
“We want them to take the time to enjoy the food and now it’s all fast,” Haslip said. “These days are a time for us to slow down to see each other, appreciate each other and bring some beauty into everything we do together.”
Million-dollar homes surround parts of the neighborhood. The area has been home to some well-known names. Muhammad Ali lived in Kenwood, along with blues singer Muddy Waters.
There is also a large population of middle-class families and low-income residents. Over the years, the community has fought against racial inequality and segregation in housing and keeping schools open.
The Kenwood-Oakland Organization was at the forefront of this battle.
“It’s a big fight,” said Shannon Bennett, the organization’s chief executive. “We are fighting in a legacy of strong community organizers… you can walk around this community and see living monuments of this work despite things like the white flight in the early 50s and 60s and dealing with things like covenants that restricted black people from certain parts of the community.
Video: Watch our full interview with Shannon Bennett
During this time, Kenwood Academy is very proud to be a neighborhood high school.
Vice-Principal Corey Morrison says its academic and athletic programs have a big impact not only on the lives of students, but also on Kenwood as a community.
“Champions are easy for people in the community to understand,” Morrison said. “It sparks a fire in the community to come and see what’s going on at school… when people walk through the door they see that our debate team is one of the best in town this year… it keeps the engine going working.”
Video: Watch our full interview with corey morisson
Rev. Dr. Leroy Sanders of Kenwood United Church of Christ has provided resources for over 40 years.
“We’ve seen our black people being able to come back because they have jobs, professionals coming back into the community,” Sanders said. “It’s a striving community that I’ve watched for 41 years that didn’t happen in 1979, so 2022 is a new year, it’s a new day, a new month, so we wait with looking forward to the joy and peace that we can survive even during this coronavirus.
Chicago’s oldest Jewish congregation stands along Hyde Park Boulevard. The cantor David Berger of Temple KAM Isaiah Israel shares how the congregation has worked with the community through music and service work.
“We are an incredibly racially diverse congregation,” Berger said. So we don’t see it because there’s a black culture there and a Jewish culture here. Our self-perception is that we are teaching our children how to truly embrace our culture and their black identity. I have two children and my children are not white either. “
The congregation has been present in the area for over 100 years and it is currently undergoing huge renovations. The Kenwood United Church of Christ on 46th Street has also served people for decades.
Sanders has run the soup kitchen for years and at one point operated a free medical clinic.
“I imagine God put that attitude and me in church in church has got to be more than non-Sunday church,” Sanders said. “I am convinced that the church should be open every day of the week because people need help not only on Sundays, but we need the word of God to come alive and by feeding the hungry, by giving bare clothes and providing health care they can’t get anywhere else.
Sanders hopes to reopen the clinic inside the church in the future. He is currently looking for a physician or nurse practitioner who is willing to volunteer their time.
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re taking to the streets to talk with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we went and what we learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Dots in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.