South Sider recalls childhood before home was demolished, CTA’s grime-fighting campaign and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Vivian Johnsons shows a photo of her kindergarten class at Edmund Burke Elementary School in Washington Park, Thursday, April 27, 2023. Johnson lived at 52nd and Prairie Avenue at the site where artist Amanda Williams planted rows of tulips. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Vivian Johnson shows a photo of her kindergarten class at Edmund Burke Elementary School in Washington Park. Johnson lived at 52nd and Prairie Avenue at the site where artist Amanda Williams planted rows of tulips.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about an eight-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

— Matt Moore (@MattKenMoore)

Weather 🌧️

Look for rain today, with a high near 46 degrees. Tonight will also see rain with a low near 40. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and a high near 50.


Top story

South Sider recalls life before the 100K tulips: ‘There was always music in the house’

Before tulips covered the ground at 53rd and Prairie Avenue, before it became a vacant lot, a six-flat stood there, housing a barbershop, an underground lottery and a number of residents, including Vivian Johnson, who was born there in 1935.

The building was one of several that stood near that intersection in Washington Park and throughout the South Side that have since been destroyed and left vacant.

Today, the lots are blooming with 100,000 red tulips planted in the shape of the houses that stood there as part of artwork by artist Amanda Williams.

The work, titled “Redefining Redlining,” aims to highlight the discriminatory practices that led to their destruction as well as many others throughout Black Chicago neighborhoods.

Williams and a team of graduate students are researching what led to the destruction of the buildings where the tulips are now and who lived there, but Johnson, 88, remembers firsthand.

“There was always music in the house,” Johnson said of the apartment at 5258 S. Prairie Ave. where her family lived until she was 6.

She recalled the pretty girl who lived upstairs whose dimples were the envy of the Johnson sisters; the red and white barber pole that signaled the barbershop that operated out of the basement; and the pretty French doors that separated the dining room from the living room inside the apartment, where she first developed a love for learning.

Neighbors visited to try their luck at the underground lottery run out of the barbershop, but the greatest excitements lay outside. Kids gathered together for baseball and double dutch and a house down the street would occasionally be quarantined due to scarlet fever.

Our Michael Loria has more with Ms. Johnson and her Chicago story.


More news you need


Celebrating three years of La Voz Chicago 🗣️

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The cover of the special La Voz Chicago section found inserted in yesterday’s Sun-Times print edition. As we mark three years of la sección en español del Sun-Times, we’re relaunching La Voz with a focus on culture and lifestyle stories.

In late 2019, the Sun-Times debuted La Voz Chicago as an experimental section in the newspaper to better serve Spanish-speaking readers.

After the test run, we made it official: On May 10, 2020, we launched suntimes.com/lavoz — which provided Spanish-first coverage of COVID-19 and other relevant issues impacting the Chicago area’s growing Latino communities.

In the past three years, editor Jackie Serrato has overseen La Voz Chicago’s expansion online and the production of several print editions inserted into the Sun-Times newspaper. Some of those sections were also distributed for free in ZIP codes with large Spanish-speaking populations. La Voz continues to gain readership through its popular daily newsletter, managed by Ambar Colón.

Now, on its third anniversary, we’re reimagining La Voz to better serve local Latino communities. With a focus on culture and lifestyle stories, the improved La Voz aims to showcase and celebrate the breadth and intersectionality of the diverse Latino communities in the Chicago area.

And today, we’ve got three stories to help mark La Voz’s third year and relaunch:


A bright one ✨

Hyde Park store owner puts Black beauty vendors in space to thrive

In October 2022, business owner Leslie Roberson stumbled across a startling fact: Out of all beauty brands, only 2.5% were Black-owned, despite Black shoppers making up 11% of total consumers.

Roberson, a model and owner of a rental linen company, posted a simple callout on her Instagram that would six months later lead to a bustling beauty haven in prime Hyde Park real estate.

Last fall, Roberson asked for Black beauty vendors to contact her. Soon, she had a packed calendar filled with meetings with beauty companies. Now, 56 of them are stocked at the Black Beauty Collective at 5305 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

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Leslie Roberson, owner of Black Beauty Collective, came up with the idea for the store in October 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Roberson, 39, realized her experience working in the corporate world and ability to elevate the companies she worked with could help these Black-owned businesses compete at the level of a large beauty company.

Black Beauty Collective opened in April and showcases hair care, make-up and skin care that are often the brainchildren of doctors and estheticians. Candles, teas and fragrances are also stocked.

The collective business model aims to help small businesses earn more money and get more exposure than they would being in larger chain stores.

More with Roberson and Black Beauty Collective from our Mariah Rush.


From the press box 🏈⚾🏀


Your daily question☕

What would you say is a Chicago rite of passage?

Email us (please include your first and last name) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

On Friday, we asked you: What’s the most romantic place in Chicago?

Here’s some of what you said...

“Promontory Point on the lake at 55th St. in Hyde Park. Magnificent views, invigorating fresh air, and a bit of semi-privacy if you take a step or two down.” — Roger D.

“The most romantic time we ever experienced in Chicago was at Geja’s Cafe. Forty-two years later, we still fondly remember the live music and our intimate fondue dinner.” — Amy Jackson

“Promontory Point. The lake, the sky, the skyline, the rocks.” — Kaye Grabbe

“Boat rides at night on lake Michigan. Chicago skyline at night on the lake is romantic and beautiful.” — Sheila Hodges

“Wrigley Field. Because it only takes one visit to fall in love with it.” — Gary Kinney

“Pratt Pier — that’s where my now husband told me he loved me for the first time.” — Jennifer Taylor

“Buckingham Fountain! The place has magic like no other area in Chicago.” — Daniel Rocky Greene

“Garfield Park Conservatory. It is where my husband proposed.” — Leigh Anne

“The Christmas Village, because everyone loves Christmas — and especially if it is snowing, it adds to the charm.” — Marsha Kling

“The most romantic thing you can do in Chicago is ride up and down lakeshore drive at night listening to music and holding the hand of your loved one.” — Tauron Butler


Thanks for reading the Chicago Sun-Times Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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