Evanston RoundTable

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From left to right: Ida Edwards, Opal Lee and Erica Edwards. (Photo by Christine Escobar)

Good morning, Evanston.

Opal Lee was with President Biden at the White House on June 17 when he signed a bipartisan bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, the first national holiday since Martin Luther King’s Birthday was established in 1983. 

On Sunday, the 94-year-old Ms. Lee spoke to a crowd gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Evanston for a meet-and-greet and book signing for her new book, “Juneteenth: A Children’s Story.” A steady stream of attendees arrived at the three-hour event to snap photos with and speak to the woman known as “the Grandmother of Juneteenth.”

Valerie shows off her split on July 4th. (Photo by Evan Girard)

Despite the cancellation of this year’s Fourth of July parade and fireworks, Evanstonians enjoyed themselves this Sunday, crowding the City’s lakefront and parks. RoundTable photographers captured a variety of Fourth of July activities, including the American Legion patriotic walk, lakefront picnics and even a few unofficial fireworks in the night sky.

Here’s a roundup of other top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

Restaurants like Smylie Brothers Brewing Company at 1615 Oak Ave. are coping with a staff shortage problem. (Photo by Bob Seidenberg)

Staff Shortages Slow Road to Recovery for Evanston’s Restaurants. Illinois officially moved on June 12 into full reopening with Phase 5, the final phase of Restore Illinois, which in effect lifted capacity limits. But for many local restaurants, getting up to full speed has been difficult because of extreme staff shortages.

Arts & Life

We are Water’s art outreach event at Evanston Made’s Makers Market on June 5.

We Are Water Evanston Creates Action Items for the City of Evanston. Evanston residents are all too familiar with recent flash flood warnings, which left some with flooded basements and leaking ceilings. Other residents are uncertain about where to seek help in the event of a flood, according to a recent survey by We are Water, a project that explores the relationship Evanstonians have with water.

Post 42 Chaplain Christine Candelario and Commander Will Candelario. (Photo by Mike Wojciechowski)

American Legion Evanston Post 42 Conducts 4th of July Patriotic Walk. Evanston’s July 4th celebrations always bring out Post 42 of the American Legion, and this year was no exception. Members of Post 42, including some family members, friends and community members assembled at 2 p.m. for a 4th of July Patriotic Walk on the walkways along Central Street, from Green Bay Road to Post 42 in Chandler Park.

YWeb Career Academy Open House. As part of the YWCA’s ongoing mission to eliminate racism and empower women, the YWeb Academy program provides education in digital skills to traditionally underrepresented or vulnerable populations such as women of color, survivors of domestic violence and low-wage workers. YWCA couples this programming with transportation assistance, financial coaching, referrals for affordable childcare and job coaching and placement to ensure each participant’s success.

Public Square

Some of the refuse left over at Butler Park on July 5th. (Photo by Les Jacobson)

Les Jacobson: Trash City. Hey Evanston, I hate to break it to you, but you’re a slob. I know, you love it here, Evanston is heavenston, blah blah blah. So why do you toss trash around with such careless abandon? The following litany of litter was noted recently on a short stretch of a downtown street: rubber gloves, pieces of paper, store receipts, candy wrappers, tissues, Band-aids, napkins, masks, socks, signs, bottle caps, straws, plastic cups and containers, and of course, the ubiquitous cigarette butts. All within a few dozen steps of a garbage can.

Reverend Dr. Michael Nabors: Letter to Residents and Citizens of Evanston. As we celebrated this past July 4th weekend and reflected on the themes of independence, freedom and liberty, that have been part of the language of America since 1776, it seemed quite important to offer words about a recent event related to District 65. Last week, it became public knowledge that a lawsuit was filed against the District naming Superintendent Devon Horton, Deputy Superintendent LaTarsha Green and Assistant Superintendent Stacy Beardsley.

Peggy Tarr: Bored? At a July 4th get-together, one person asked if the month of July had a National Month designation. No one knew. I decided to Google the question. Wow! There were at least 15 National Month titles for July. I was struck by two of the titles: World Watercolor Month (included in Evanston’s Blick Art Supply Store ad) and National Anti-Boredom Month.

Nancy Anderson: One Pandemic Activity I’m Not Giving Up. My dining room table holds the square outline of a jigsaw puzzle. In piles around the square, I’ve sorted pieces by color. Slowly, painstakingly, I am filling in the outline. The pandemic is waning, and my life is returning to the way it was before. Yet I’m still working on a puzzle.

Reader: Why Can’t City Stop Illegal Fireworks? Last night, July 4, was a horror. Can’t we do something about the gunshot-, bomb-like firecrackers that went on interminably, and that I have no doubt will continue tonight and for several more? This happens every year and it’s traumatizing for neighbors, children and animals.

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Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...