South Side Speculation

UIC- African American Cultural Center April 4th- June 28th

South Side Speculations was produced by the Transmedia Collage Project, a collaboration between History Moves (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Transmedia Story Lab (University of Chicago), with generous support received from the Humanities Without Walls consortium, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This exhibition grew out of a two-year intergenerational collaboration among Chicago-based high school students, arts and humanities scholars, and practicing artists and storytellers. Transmedia Collage investigated the impact of structural violence on health and wellness across the South Side, with a particular focus on Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. The outcome was the various creation of  historically-grounded art and speculative media informed by discoveries. This exhibition seeks to provoke questions about how we want the future of Chicago’s South Side to look, as it resists easy answers based on dominant representations of the city today.

Previously at Art Incubator January 18th- March 1st



Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, LaVerne Martin first attended Stephen A. Douglas School, on 33rd and Prairie, in 1954. When she started CPS at the age of 4, LaVerne knew nothing about Brown v. Board of Education and its ruling on desegregation in public schools, but racial segregation and inequality in Chicago affected her entire career at CPS, both as a student and then as a teacher.

LaVerne (right) with her sister Tina. The girls were 3 and 4, and LaVerne would soon attend her first Chicago Public School, Stephen A. Douglas Elementary in Bronzeville.

mrs. laverne photo 1


LaVerne on the day of her 8th grade graduation from Carrie Jacobs Bond Elementary School in 1962 (at 71st and Racine). She was its first valedictorian and spent the entire year working in the library after she found her classroom noisy and distracting. LaVerne had been attending Daniel S. Wentworth School (Morgan and 69th, a school that closed in 2013), but because of overcrowding caused by racial segregation, she completed 8th grade at Bond. Though the schools were only 6 blocks apart, she had to cross racial lines to attend Bond.

mrs. laverne photo 3


Listen to LaVerne talk about learning black history through her family’s history.

Listen to LaVerne talk about how she became a teacher despite attempts to keep blacks from becoming certified.

In 2010, LaVerne retired from teaching, having taught in CPS for 40 years.

On July 22, 2013, Richard Richard, a CFS Freedom Fellow and undergraduate at Clark University in Atlanta, interviewed LaVerne at the Jane-Addams Hull House Museum.

LaVerne and Richard



The Making of NITY

Not in the Yearbooks takes a student perspective on Chicago’s public schools in the postwar period. This public history project brought together ten Chicago Freedom School Freedom Fellows, aged 14-20, with UIC faculty, students and staff, as well as library and information specialists at the Read/Write Library. Not in the Yearbooks began with the idea that students have a historical perspective on the recent past, and are capable of capturing the historical perspectives of adults who were once students in area schools. Between May 2013 and August 2013 the Freedom Fellows collected and interpreted almost a dozen first person narratives from CPS teachers who had been CPS students.

The Freedom Fellows participated in five workshops designed to turn them into public history makers and curators. First, historian Elizabeth Todd-Breland of UIC shared her historical research on the specific ways that student, teacher, and community protest have animated this history. The fellows then visited UIC’s Daley Library to work with Special Collection archivist Val Harris and gained critical interview skills in a workshop with oral historians and sound curators, Marie Scatena and Heather Radke. The final workshops were held at the Read/Write Library, where the fellows practiced participatory archiving with Executive Director Nell Taylor and learned about Chicago-based artist Samantha Hill’s Kinship Project, which displays African American family history through digital archiving and art making.


Not In The Year Books

In 2013, ten Freedom Fellows from the Chicago Freedom School worked with History Moves to create an intergenerational history project called “Not in the Yearbooks.”

Each fellow interviewed a CPS teacher who was once a CPS student. They also interviewed one another. The stories, which span 1940 to the present, explore how young people have consistently shaped the history of Chicago’s schools.