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CTA Changes Keep Riders On Their Toes

by Jasmine Hunt 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by an advanced student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

I had to register at Malcolm X College for the fall 2013 semester to continue my educational career towards becoming a paramedic. I do not care for the registration process because it takes a long time. After purchasing my books, taking my ID picture and getting my class schedule, I stood in this gigantic line waiting to get my U-Pass for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

That was the last time I’ll have to go through that process.

That’s because like all of the city, the City Colleges are transitioning to the Ventra pass for riding the CTA. The Ventra pass for students is a blue card with your picture and a magnetic stripe on it. The way it’s supposed to work is you hold it in front of the machine and it automatically reads it and gives you the “go” signal. If there’s a problem, you get a red signal.

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We The People Media In The News

by Ethan Michaeli, Publisher 

I was honored to appear on the CAN TV show “Chicago Newsroom” this week with the intrepid Angela Caputo from the Chicago Reporter. We talked about Hillary Clinton’s likely presidential campaign, assessed Mayor Rahm’s performance and drilled down to housing in Chicago neighborhoods. Click above to check it out.

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A Truce in the War on Drugs? Part II.

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Editor’s Note: The article below was produced as part of the Social Justice News Nexus, a program launched this year by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications with a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation.

Will Drug Courts Ease Prison Overcrowding?

Drug courts are becoming an increasingly popular topic of conversation among elected officials as they scramble to find solutions to punitive sentences for those charged with low-level drug-related crimes.

A large majority of these nonviolent offenders – with dependencies on alcohol, prescription and street drugs – are particularly hard hit with sentences that can lead some to life imprisonment.

In an exclusive interview in early February, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin said he was “absolutely” in favor of the use of drug courts as an alternative means to incarcerations for low-level non-violent drug offenders. He added that money saved from imprisonment costs would be funneled into the use of more of them.

“What we’re trying to do is focus this money back into drug courts, which bring in people who would otherwise be prosecuted. [People] who they would say, ‘This isn’t criminal. This is an addict. Let’s deal with them that way.’ Do it for veterans. I think that makes more sense if you deal with a person whose real crime is addiction. Let’s get to them early before the addiction becomes even worse.”

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A Truce in the War on Drugs? Part I.

by Mary C. Piemonte 

U.S. Se. Dick Durbin from Illinois speaks at a recent conference on reforming the War on Drugs. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte.

Editor’s Note: The article below was produced as part of the Social Justice News Nexus, a program launched this year by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications with a two-year grant from the McCormick Foundation.

Now that American prisons are swollen to capacity with thousands of non-violent, low-level drug offenders, public officials – like powerhouse U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), the majority whip, and even some judges – are shifting their attitudes about the War on Drugs.

Many of the inmates have addictions and many have been given harsh punitive sentences, including life without parole, after being charged with possession of small amounts of crack or powder cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine under laws established decades ago.

This growing number of officials are currently meeting around the country to rethink the drug war while modifying policies and revising procedures for charging and sentencing offenders under old drug laws.

All this is done in a drastic attempt to reduce the enormous costs to taxpayers of the criminal justice and prison systems while trying to rectify the disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos locked behind cold steel bars.

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Am I Prepared for College?

by Tatiana Minter 

Students at Paul Robeson High School. Photo by Tatiana Minters.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

“I don’t like this school, Robeson is boring, class is boring, and teachers are boring, they are teaching baby work and stuff that is not on our level or getting us ready for college.” said Jameesha Shields, 17, a senior who has been at Paul Robeson since her freshman year.

My name is Tatiana Minter and I’m a senior at Paul Robeson High School. Paul Robeson High School is a 4-year school located in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. It mainly is fully of African American students and a mix of African American and white teachers. Seems like every time I say ‘Paul Robeson,’ the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth is “Why you go to that school?” or “It be crackin’, don’t it?” I know Robeson has a bad reputation with many people who don’t even attend the school but since I do, I thought it would be a good idea to tell my story and those of my classmates.

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Louder Than a Bomb

by Stephon Austin 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

I am a senior at Paul Robeson’s High School, and I am a member in Robeson’s poetry group started by Ms. Twine the poetry coach we call Endless Words.   I joined the group Endless Words January 30, 2014 and we talked about upcoming events. But in order to be a part of the event you had to recite a poem to the poetry coach Ms. Twine. Ms. Twine needed to hear a recited poem because one of the events was scheduled three days after the practice day. So we only had a day to write the poem and one day to practice the poem, which she wanted us to memorize. The event was called “Louder than a Bomb”.

Louder than a Bomb was held at Columbia College in Chicago at 2 p.m. It was a small auditorium and our group, Endless Words, was competing against other schools like Simeon and Harper. There was a DJ playing music and then a speaker came up to tell us some rule. Points were taken off for profanity but the space is supposed to be like your living room, so we were encouraged to be comfortable, but to please respect the microphone. A member from each competing group had to come up and pull a card with an alphabet on them to determine the speaking order. Our group was second to speak. I was last to go out of our group and it was very nerve-wracking. I walked upon the stage and looked at the judges, and then I noticed every pair of eyes in the room was on me. My heart dropped while there was total silence. I tapped to check the microphone; I took a deep breath and spoke.

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Do Athletes Have Special Privileges?

by Whitney Burkes 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Paul Robeson High School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

When a student gets in trouble at Paul Robeson High School, they are immediately sent to the Dean of Students, Ms. Maxwell. That is, unless you’re an athlete, in which case you will be sent to the head coach of your sport.

I can certainly understand how it appears that student-athletes get special treatment. However, the average fan or student doesn’t get to see the whole picture. All student-athletes are accountable for their behaviors/actions just like everyone else. The process is the same (discussion with the Dean) for everyone BUT for athletes, their coaches are notified of their behavior and they may no longer be a Robeson Raider. Every athlete that takes the field is expected to show high character, respect and leadership on the field of competition. The coaches expect the student-athletes to illustrate the same principles in class and throughout the hallways. When the expectation is not met, the student-athlete has to face the consequences from both Ms. Maxwell and their coach.

Some students at Paul Robeson High School feel that this is unfair.

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Experiencing the Holocaust at the Field Museum

by Deon Belcher 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with the New Memorial Baptize Church. Students participated in a field trip to see “State of Deception,” a traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

My experience at the Field Museum was awesome. I learned about the Holocaust and the important role Hitler played in the history of killing over 6 million Jewish people. The Holocaust was influenced by various posters displaying propaganda (images and words that make people change their way of living). Hitler was the dictator of Germany during the years of the Holocaust. He used the posters and radio broadcasting to convince the German people to hate the Jews.

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The Holocaust

by Makayla Howard 

A poster that was part of the U.S. Holocaust Museum exhibit “State of Deception: Nazi Propaganda and the Holocaust.”

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with the New Memorial Baptize Church. Students participated in a field trip to see “State of Deception,” a traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

My experience at the Field Museum viewing the Holocaust exhibit was interesting and learning-full. I learned a lot about the leader Adolf Hitler and how he was able to persuade people that what he did was right. Adolf Hitler used propaganda to persuade people. Some examples of propaganda were posters, letters and pictures. This was a huge part of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust itself was a movement basically. Nazi soldiers who were under the leadership of Adolf Hitler killed and tortured many Jews only because they were Jewish. Read more »

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One Of The Greatest Men In History

by Delilah Baker 

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Donoghue Elementary School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation. – See more at: http://wethepeoplemedia.org/#sthash.2opUhPmn.dpuf

A poster commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the hallway of Paul Robeson High School. Photo by Delilah Baker.

Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in our Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Donoghue Elementary School. The UYIJP is generously funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of the civil rights movement. Sadly, he was shot. He was a great leader and a pastor following in his father’s footsteps. King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was very little when he first wondered why blacks and whites were segregated. He didn’t graduate from high school, but instead went straight to Morehouse College at the age of 15.  Then, in 1954, he became a pastor at the age of 25.

He married Coretta Scott and had four children, named Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter and Bernice. King was very passionate. He met Rosa Parks at the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was angry about the way blacks were treated and how the whites were treated better than them.

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