Illinois Humanities announced today that grants for a series of Justice Dialogues were approved to help spark community-based discussions across the city of Chicago as a part of Envisioning Justice. (Topics and locations are listed below.)

The Justice Dialogues are meant to give people across the city a chance to be part of open, community conversations on mass incarceration and related themes. They may feature the arts, a performance, a speaker, or a panel — but all have dialogue baked into the event so that people who attend can participate, ask questions, air their views. Overall, they are meant to be a mechanism for us to take the conversations – starting at the hub level, outward to different neighborhoods, demographic groups, differing levels of interaction with the criminal justice system.

“Groups who received the grants applied to host a Justice Dialogue in an open call for submissions. This first round is exciting because it includes such a variety of organizations, venues and audiences – from the far south to the far north sides, a church, a community college, a school focused on youth civic engagement, a documentary film group, a performing arts group, and others,” according to Mark Hallett, Program Manager for Grants and Partnerships at Illinois Humanities.

Initial support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, allowed for the grants to the following organizations serving vastly different Chicago communities which will facilitate conversations on the larger issues of re-inventing the criminal justice system.

The Justice Dialogues are:

Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts and South Asian American Policy Research Institute will sponsor The Ahimsa End to Violence Discussion Series on July 13 at the Shedd Park (3660 W. 23rd St),  July 20 Oz Park (2021 N. Burling St), Aug 18. Indian Boundary Park (2500 W. Lunt Ave). All sessions will begin at 3:00 p.m.  Partners include Chicago Park District; the sessions will include dance and dialogue.


2. New Life Baptist Church of Chicago led by Dr. Robert House will host The Community Speaks dialogues on  July 11, and 25  at 5:00 p.m. and on Aug.12  at 1:00 p.m. at 11026 S. Indiana Ave. in Chicago. Topics include jobs, schooling, housing, education, crime, gangs and police relationships in the black community.


3. The Japanese American Service Committee will host a Memories of Now speakers series on July 24,  Aug 21, and dates to be announced in September and October.  The dialogues will be held at the Japanese American Service Committee headquarters at 4427 N. Clark St. in Chicago.  The topics are as follows: 1. Postwar Japanese American War Brides in Chicago with Sonia Gomez on 7/24; 2. Joint program i2i (Invisible 2 Invincible) connecting with BLM issues on 8/21; 3. Japanese American music in postwar Chicago, Mariko Anno, and on a date TBA ; 4. Disability issues in Japanese American community, Akemi Nishida, UIC, date TBA


4. Social Change dialogue will be guided by Todd Belcore “Less Conversation, More Change” Dialogues will be held on July 23  at Taste 222 , and July 30 at the Northwestern School of Law. All Programs run from  5:45-7:30 p.m. Topics will include conversations on ways in which economic, physical and government violence have devastated communities as well as moving into community building and creating safe spaces.


5. Experimental Station will be hosted by Matthew Searle and will focus on Visualizing Racial Justice.  Discussions will be held on July 30, Aug.7,  Aug. 15.,  Aug. 19 Additional information on these discussions will be forthcoming.


6. Truman College’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee will host dialogues by focusing on the theme of “Losing Our Identity: The Effects of Gentrification.” Discussions will be held at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson, dates to be determined.


7. The Community Film Workshop of Chicago will host dialogues produced by Margaret Caples on “Girls, Gangs and Guns: A Growing Problem.” The first two dialogues will take place on Sept. 29 at the Harris YMCA (6200 S. Drexel Blvd.), and the second two will take place Oct. 6 at the Institute for NonViolence at 4926 W. Chicago Ave. Events are scheduled for 12 noon and 2:00 p.m.


8. The Chicago Freedom School will host dialogues produced by Laura Ramirez on “The Intersections of Mass Incarceration, Immigration, and Youth: Can we imagine a future without jails?” They will take place at the school at 719 S. State St., on Sept. 6, Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Oct. 18.


There will be a second round of grants with an Oct. 15 deadline for projects in the Stories and Public Opinion category.


In addition, there will be additional opportunities for groups to apply to host dialogues around the criminal justice system. These microgrants, called Illinois Speaks “Justice Dialogues,” have deadlines of Sept. 15 (2018) and Feb. 15 (2019).


For more information, reach out to Mark Hallett at


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