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Blog | Featured Story
Celebrating the Stories of Chicago
Goodbyes are bittersweet. After more than eight years — and many wonderful interviews — in the region, StoryCorps is closing its operations and recording booth in Chicago in September 2021.
We’re proud to have had a booth and exhibition space at the Chicago Cultural Center and to have partnered with WBEZ 91.5 FM to preserve, share, and broadcast this city’s stories.
We want to especially thank our Chicago-based staff for their thoughtfulness, care, and excellence throughout the years.
Listen to the voices of Chicago
Since we first opened the recording booth, we’ve been bowled over by the heart of our Chicago storytellers. We’ve rounded up a few favorites below, but there are so many more to listen to in the Chicago Collection.
Charlene and Gloria talk about growing up in Chicago, their sexual orientations and gender identities, and how LGBTQ terminology has changed over the years. Gloria shares stories about being gay and then transitioning, and living an out life in both Chicago and New York.
Zainab interviews Syrian human rights activist Alaa about her experience using social media to aid protesters on the ground in Syria, a passion that resulted in a death threat from the Syrian regime. Alaa’s parents taught her that even though she was living in Chicago, she should never forget the people in Syria.
Yvonne talks to her friend Kimberley about the impact that her revolutionary parents have had on her life. She talks about finding truth under layers of family secrets, what her activism looks like today, and the importance of “thriving instead of just surviving life.”
Nancy talks to her friend Beth about her career as an organist for the Chicago White Sox. They talk about how Nancy’s music helped Beth follow baseball games after she lost her sight, and how they met and became friends.
Raymundo talks to his husband Alexander about growing up in Mexico City knowing at an early age that he was gay, even before he knew there was a word for it. He talks about heroes, his experience at a “church camp” (actually conversion therapy) in Mexico, his religious beliefs, and how their first date ended with Alexander uttering, “Bye, I love you,” which they laugh about now.
Brothers Vishal and Parag talk about their family role models and the cultural principles that influenced their career choices in public service. They discuss the challenges and fulfilling aspects of their work, and how they balance work, family, and personal growth. Vishal reads a poem he wrote after a 30 hour shift at the ER at Cook County Hospital.
Cindy and Astrid are friends and fellow advocates at Mujeres Latinas En Acción. They have a conversation about their work as volunteers in the Sexual Assault Program, and they also talk about the friendship they have forged.
Emmanuel interviews his best friend Tania about the challenges as a Trans Latinx woman. Tania also talks about her new project called “SER el cambio,” a transitional housing center for the Trans community of Chicago.
Jorge Valdivia and his sister Jessica Valdivia honor the memory of their older brother Mauricio Valdivia who died in Chicago of COVID-19. They reminisce about their favorite memories growing up with someone full of life who “went out of their way for their family.” They also discuss their experience with grief and loss during the pandemic. Read the full transcript here.
Our partner WBEZ celebrated years of powerful conversation by putting together a weeklong tribute to commemorate the closing of the Chicago booth. Here is a selection of the stories that highlight the participants’ voices who opened up and shared their stories.
“A lot of kids don’t have a crazy dad to keep pushing them”
Garry Scott Mitchell Junior, better known as Scottie, is currently attending Harvard for his doctorate in Education. His father, Garry Scott Mitchell Senior, was there every step of the way, guiding his son through his journey. Scottie and Garry sit down and reflect on the moments that forged his path today.
Lisa Daniels’ son Darren was killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Lisa sits down with her friend Sherri Allen-Reaves to discuss the violent circumstances of her son’s death. She revisits the events of the night when she lost her son in hopes of redefining his legacy.
Meg and Bobby Hart met in the Peace Corps when they both were serving in West Africa. They fell in love and got married. Bobby and Meg come to StoryCorps as they share their journey of becoming parents. They discuss their hopes and fears of their unfolding future.
Ellen Hughes feared for the life of her son Walker, who has autism, after he had an adverse reaction to a new medication. Then they met Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller in the ER, who helped Ellen’s son — and herself — get the care they needed.