Erin Allen: Good Morning, it's Thursday. I’m Erin Allen, and this is The Rundown.
Black History celebrations are getting creative in Chicago this year, as usual. My colleague Adora Namigadde created a preview of a few. Let's start with some virtual reality at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. They're offering a virtual reality exhibit that takes visitors back to the 1963 March on Washington. For music-lovers, The South Side Jazz Coalition is performing a free concert of jazz classics on Valentines Day. The Newberry Library in Gold Coast has a new exhibit of rare images that document Chicago’s African American communities during the Great Migration. There’s a total of 44 glass slides, and few of the images have been published before. And, The Second City is hosting Dance Like There Are Black People Watching: a collective of sketches and improv focused on Black joy. And this next one is probably among the most interesting, maybe besides the VR experience, Saint Sabina Catholic Church is hosting a Black History Month Shark Tank for entrepreneurs. They’re asking Black Chicagoans with a business idea to submit their plans to the church. Five Black business owners will be the judges, and one winner will receive $150,000 to get their business started. Saint Sabina’s pastor Father Michael Plfeger says his community wants to help generate long-term Black wealth.
Michael Plfeger: We wanna not only help that person start, but provide the mentoring and the legal help to be successful. Why not just open the place? We wanna know if the place is gonna be sustainable, be profitable, and create another Black millionaire in Chicago.
Erin Allen: Alright then future Black millionaires, get your proposal together. Business concepts are due February 28th.
Speaking of Black History, Governor J.B. Pritzker looking into revisions to a national high school course on African American History that were released yesterday. Last week, Pritzker said Illinois schools would not accept a
“watering down of history.”
My colleague Mawa Iqbal is reporting that Florida officials, led by Governor Ron DeSantis rejected an earlier version of the course that covered topics like critical race theory and Black queer studies. That’s what prompted Pritzker to speak on it, he is demanding that no changes be made to quote
“appease the Florida Governor and his allies.” Now that a revised curriculum is out, Pritzker says he’s working with the College board to understand the process behind the most recent changes. The College Board says the core revisions were made before DeSantis spoke out. At the end of the day, it’s up to school districts to decide if they even want to offer the course.
And more education news, according to fall 2022 data released today, the number of students enrolled in Illinois colleges is down again. My colleague Lisa Philip is reporting that overall enrollment in Illinois colleges has been shrinking since before the pandemic. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that fewer students want a degree. Actually, the number of college students in the college agebracket in the state has been dropping for several years. Demographers predict that decrease will only accelerate in the near future. And that’s partially because of declining birth rates. Doug Shapiro is with the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Doug Shapiro: There’s still a dramatic decline in the coming years that is larger than what we’re seeing even in the Midwest and Northeast right now. So I wouldn’t say we’re in the cliff now, but some regions are certainly stepping let’s say closer and closer to the edge.
Erin Allen: Hm. Things aren’t always as they seem.
And before we get to weather, a few quick hits. Alright Bey-hive, if you’re really buzzing in there, you probably already know this. But for those of us who are a day late, Beyoncé finally announced tour dates yesterday. And yes, she will be coming to Chicago on July 22nd.
And the Chicago City Council approved the Norfolk Southern Railway expansion to the 47th Street rail yard. It happened after Jeanette Taylor – the 20th Ward Alderman – dropped her opposition to the plan yesterday once she was assured that community concerns would be addressed. Norfolk Southern celebrated the news in a statement, saying it will allow for construction to finally move forward.
And today is also Groundhog Day. Fun fact – the movie “Groundhog Day” was shot in Woodstock, Illinois. I always found this holiday to be an odd one, but apparently they revel in it over in that north east-ish part of the state. If you feel like driving an hour or so, they’ve got Groundhog Day festivities through February 5th, including film screenings.
As for the weather, Justin taught me a new word and I’m paying it forward – “Apricity” it means “the warmth of sunshine in winter,” and the apricity out there today is lovely as it has been the last couple days. Sunny and clear early in the day with a high of 30. It'll be partially cloudy later this afternoon. But the weather channel is using another word for temperatures tonight: Bitter, as in bitterly cold. It’s going down to zero.
And that's it for The Rundown today, I'm Erin Allen. Thank you for listening, tell your friends to listen too! You can just click share and send this podcast to them right now. And if you haven't already, like and subscribe to The Rundown so you can stay updated and satiated on all things Chicago. Alight, I'll talk to you tomorrow morning.
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