Supreme Court ends affirmative action, Illinois education leaders respond, what you need to know about the NASCAR takeover 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.

SHARE Supreme Court ends affirmative action, Illinois education leaders respond, what you need to know about the NASCAR takeover and more in your Chicago news roundup

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed affirmative action in higher education today, ending decades of race-conscious admissions meant to give historically disadvantaged students a better chance at college.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Everyone knows Chicagoans have strong opinions on food.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Get out of here with that ketchup; my neighborhood’s Harold’s is way better than yours; giardiniera is god, etc.

And when it comes to pizza, that conversation can get downright contentious — par for the course when it comes to matters of taste and loyalty to your go-to spot.

That’s why I have to commend my colleagues at WBEZ’s Curious City for stepping into the food fight and embarking on a quest to find Chicago’s best pizza-by-the-slice.

Among their picks: Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe in Lincoln Square, Pizza Lobo in Logan Square and Benny’s Pizza in Pilsen. Give their list a look and see if your favorite made the cut. 🍕

But first, here’s the news you need to know this afternoon.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling ‘an attack on people of color,’ Illinois education leaders say

Reporting by Nader Issa and Jacquelyne Germain

Affirmative action ended: Local educational leaders decried today’s Supreme Court decision that ended affirmative action in higher education as “an attack on people of color” that stunts racial progress and vowed to continue helping students of color in Illinois. The long-anticipated ruling by the conservative majority on the nation’s highest court sends colleges and universities back to the drawing board in their attempts to diversify student populations. Affirmative action had been upheld under Supreme Court decisions since 1978.

Key context: The affirmative action cases were brought by conservative activist Edward Blum and his group Students for Fair Admissions, which filed the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of affirmative action policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014, alleging they harm white and Asian American students.

What state education leaders say: Northwestern University President Michael Schill said he was “deeply disappointed” in the decision, saying it “will make it more difficult for Northwestern to achieve one of our imperatives — the promotion of diversity, inclusion and belonging on our campuses.”

The Illinois Board of Higher Education said the decision was “an attack on people of color, particularly Black people, who face discrimination through multiple facets of American society.” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker called the ruling “archaic” and one that sets back efforts to help those who may already be disadvantaged in their pursuit of higher education.



U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson, officials and faith leaders pray over the wall of the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ on the South Side, where officials announced that they are introducing a bill that will make the church a national historic site, Thursday, June 29, 2023. The church’s historic significance comes from the time when the body of Emmett Till, who was lynched after allegedly whistling at a white woman, was placed in an open casket inside the church. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson (center, with pin in his lapel) was among the officials and faith leaders Thursday who prayed outside Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ. The church is now at the center of an effort to establish it as a national historic site, freeing up money to restore the 101-year-old building.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

  • Location of Emmett Till’s funeral pushed as national historic site: A coalition of pastors, some of Illinois’ congressional delegation, and family of Emmett Till gathered outside Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ today to announce plans to restore the 101-year-old building where Till’s funeral took place. The intention is to introduce a bill to establish the church as a national historic site.
  • Chicago air still still unhealthy: The city’s air quality has improved slightly from “very unhealthy” to “unhealthy,” according to, which uses the official U.S. Air Quality Index. People are still urged to take precautions to protect themselves.
  • New effort to cut police department’s disciplinary probe backlog: The agency tasked with probing allegations of Chicago police misconduct will begin reviewing and potentially closing out more than half of its disciplinary investigations next month to get a handle on a huge and long-standing backlog.
  • Most funding for migrant crisis to be spent on personnel: A majority of the $51 million approved by the City Council during a recent tense meeting will go toward paying a national staffing firm that is providing around-the-clock personnel at makeshift shelters where recently arrived migrants are seeking refuge, according to a city official.
  • CPS promises to remove lead paint from 80 schools: WBEZ found delays in removing the hazardous paint uncovered in some schools last fall. Chicago Public Schools says delays can occur while seeking the “root causes” of the damage.
  • Chicagoans gear up for holiday weekend travel: AAA estimates that 2.8 million Illinoisans will travel 50 miles or more during Fourth of July weekend, a 4% increase from last year’s record high, with about 89% of those travelers hitting the road.
  • 2 stars for ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’: The fifth and final installment of the beloved franchise is the absolutely worst chapter in the series, writes Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper.


Bleachers South Michigan Avenue East Jackson Drive 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race

Bleachers are set up along South Michigan Avenue near East Jackson Drive as the city prepares for the 2023 NASCAR Chicago Street Race downtown.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

What’s happening: NASCAR officially kicks off its Chicago Street Race this weekend, with thousands expected to flock downtown to catch nearly 40 cars race on some of our most iconic roadways.

Major road closures around the Grant Park area continue this evening through the weekend, so keep this list handy. We’ve also got a rundown of CTA’s bus detours for the weekend. And because the road closures will pose risks to first responders transporting patients in emergencies, the city says it’s got a plan for that.

The course: The 2.2-mile street course is a first for NASCAR and Chicago. Drivers will negotiate 12 turns — seven of which are 90 degrees — over 100 laps. Crashes are all about certain, considering NASCAR drivers crash more than 200 times a year. The start-finish line will be on Columbus Drive between Jackson and Balbo drives.

Construction of the track, grandstands and general event infrastructure has been moving rapidly for the last month, with one NASCAR rep remarking: “We’ve never built anything this large this fast.”

It all starts Saturday: A lower-division race will take place Saturday before the Cup Series-level Grant Park 220 revs up Sunday. Look for concerts before and after races each day, featuring artists including the Chainsmokers, Charley Crockett and Miranda Lambert.

Who gets to go?: NASCAR has been pitching this weekend as an opportunity to expand its fanbase. So if you’ve got more than $3,000 to spare, you can see the race from the President’s Paddock Club, where you’ll be above the start-finish line and the area where drivers will make pit stops.

Two-day general admission tickets are closer to $300.

Across from Buckingham Fountain at Butler Field will be the NASCAR Village, the only free area for the weekend. You’ll also be able to see some sections of the course from the Lakefront Trail and catch the broadcast on large screens around the track. Even though drivers are set to use mufflers, it’ll still be loud, so don’t forget to bring some earplugs.

Economic impact: Since former Mayor Lori Lightfoot last year announced she had signed a three-year deal with NASCAR, her decision has been met with controversy. Members of the City Council and many Chicagoans have raised questions about what the city is getting out of the deal.

According to one study, Lollapalooza generated a third of a billion dollars in local economic activity last year, three times higher than what NASCAR’s street race is expected to rake in. Surrounding businesses, however, remain hopeful the races will drive up sales. The same goes for downtown hotels.

Follow along: We’ll have reporters and photographers on site, so follow along with our NASCAR hub and Twitter and Instagram profiles for the latest from the race.



The Broken Arrow Riding Club’s 2023 Speed and Action Rodeo and Horse Show took place June 18 at the South Shore Cultural Center. The rodeo is one of the main events of the club, which aims to foster community around Black horsemanship in the Chicago area.

Justine Tobiasz/WBEZ

Black cowboy culture in Chicago lives on

Reporting by Bianca Cseke and Meha Ahmad

Chicago may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of rodeos, but the area has a rich history of Black cowboys and horsemanship that endures today.

On the South Side of Chicago, the Broken Arrow Riding Club helps keep cowboy culture alive by teaching horsemanship to people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and physical abilities. The riding club annually hosts its Speed and Action Rodeo and Horse Show, which includes competitions in racing, relays, bareback riding and more.

Some participants have been with the riding club for decades, creating a community around riding horses in Chicago. And being a cowboy isn’t just a man’s game.

Amber Leslie has been a member of the Broken Arrow Riding Club for about two years and is a bonafide Chicago cowgirl. Leslie told WBEZ that she got involved after a friend who had a horse told her she should stop by to watch a lesson at the club.

Where do people keep horses in such an urban area as Chicago? Most people keep them on the outskirts of the city, especially south suburbs like Chicago Heights and Sauk Village, Leslie said.

“It’s a small community, but we’re growing every single year,” she said.



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Editor: Satchel Price

Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore

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