Rev. Jesse Jackson to step down as leader of civil rights org, DebtStoppers files for bankruptcy 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 Rev. Jesse Jackson to step down as leader of civil rights org, DebtStoppers files for bankruptcy and more in your Chicago news roundup

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is stepping down as leader of Rainbow PUSH, a civil rights organization spawned from Operation PUSH, founded by him more than five decades ago.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

Summer festivals are in full swing in Chicago, including the Windy City Smokeout this weekend.

Alongside some of the biggest names in country music, some 10,000 sausages, 12,000 pounds of ribs, 18,000 pounds of brisket and 12,000 pounds of pulled pork will be served up by some of the nation’s best pitmasters over the festival’s four days, Tricia Despres reports.

I’ve been salivating over the barbecue photos our Anthony Vazquez took. I love Lexington-style barbecue from North Carolina — chopped or sliced smoked pork shoulder with tomato-vinegar sauce and a side of spicy red slaw. But Anthony’s photos have convinced me I need Lillie’s Q’s walking taco as soon as possible.

However, Saturday-only tickets to the Smokeout don’t come cheap. Maybe I’ll just get Lem’s instead.

If this intro is making you hungry, too, we’ve got some hot links below — just not the sausage kind.

⏱️: A 6-minute read

— Ellery Jones, audience engagement specialist (@elleryrjones)


Rev. Jesse Jackson stepping down as president of Rainbow PUSH

Reporting by Lynn Sweet

Civil rights leader retiring: The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate, will step down as president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an organization he founded and whose national headquarters is on the South Side.

Health a factor: One of his sons, Rep. Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill., said Friday there “is a determination made that in his current health and condition that he has appointed a successor and will formally announce it Sunday.” Jackson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017 and his son said “it is progressive” and his father often uses a wheelchair.

Decades of activism: Jackson’s public activism began decades ago, when he was one of the “Greenville Eight,” a group of Black college students protesting at the whites-only public library in Greenville, South Carolina, where Jackson grew up. In the years since, he remained active in the movement, formed Operation PUSH in 1971 and has, multiple times, successfully negotiated the release of U.S. citizens being held hostage abroad. The Rainbow Coalition, which grew out of his 1984 presidential campaign, merged with PUSH in 1996.




A sign above the office of Semrad Law Firm, which advertises as DebtStoppers, at 11101 S. Western Ave. The biggest bankruptcy law firm in Illinois, it has now filed for bankruptcy protection.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times


Soul & Smoke chef D’Andre Carter displays his Cajun corn and hickory-smoked rib tips at opening day of this summer’s Windy City Smokeout at the United Center.

Soul & Smoke chef D’Andre Carter displays his Cajun corn and hickory-smoked rib tips Thursday, opening day for the Windy City Smokeout at the United Center.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times (file)

🍖 Windy City Smokeout


The festival returns for the 10th year with a stellar country lineup, including Zach Bryan, Darius Rucker, Luke Bryan and many more. Plus you’ll find 30 of the best barbecue pitmasters from around the country.

📍 United Center parking lot, 1901 W. Madison

Admission: $70+

🌇 Sundays on State

Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

State Street will be transformed into a pedestrian walkway with an interactive block party featuring art, culture, food, shopping and more.

📍 State between Lake and Adams

Admission: Free

🍽️ Taste of Chicago Pullman Park

Saturday, noon–8 p.m.

With NASCAR and other events taking up Grant Park for much of the season, the city moved Taste of Chicago to mid-September and sprinkled pop-ups across different neighborhoods throughout the summer. The Pullman edition features more than 20 vendors along with music and dancing.

📍 Pullman Park, 11101 S. Cottage Grove

Admission: Free

🎶 Durango Fest

Sunday, 1 p.m.

The whirlwind, multicity Durango Fest makes its Chicago stop at Little Village concert venue Plaza Garibaldi. Headliners include Alacranes Musical, Grupo Montez De Durango, K-Paz De La Sierra, Diana Reyes and Patrulla 81.

📍 Plaza Garibaldi, West 26th Street and South Rockwell

Admission: $70

💐 Sheffield Garden Walk

Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Sheffield Garden Walk returns with a walking tour of the always wonderful neighborhood gardens. There’s also a children’s festival at Oscar Mayer Magnet School.

📍 Sheffield from Webster to Fullerton

Admission: Free



Edith Renfrow Smith in 2022. Born on July 14, 1914, she remembers her grandparents, who were enslaved, and meeting Amelia Earhart. Smith was the first Black graduate of Grinnell College.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Enjoying life immensely at 109

Reporting by Neil Steinberg

Happy birthday to you, Edith Renfrow Smith!

While Neil Steinberg’s column is not typically directed toward one specific individual, Ms. Smith, who turns 109 years old Friday, is no typical individual.

Readers might recall her incredible story from two years ago, on her 107th birthday — she was the first Black graduate of Grinnell College. Class of ’37, who came to Chicago, where she became secretary to Oscar DePriest, Chicago’s first Black alderman. Future jazz great Herbie Hancock lived across the street, and taught her daughter to play “Chopsticks.”

When Ms. Smith turned 108, Steinberg revisited, and was rewarded with sound advice (“This is a wonderful world, and you need to take care of it”) and a jar of her homemade raspberry jelly. He figured, if turning 107 and 108 were noteworthy, how could 109 not be?

Besides, Steinberg was curious: How’s she doing?

“Oh, I’m just fine,” said Ms. Smith. “I’ve been doing fine.”



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