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Politics

The Illinois Governor Who Headed a Landmark Commission on America – and Had a Tragic Fall from Grace

Daniel Hautzinger

Otto Kerner gave his name to a report that called for enormous changes in American society to address racial disparities, but his reputation for integrity suffered when he became the first (not the last) Illinois governor convicted of a crime.

Nine Pioneering Chicago Women Politicians

Daniel Hautzinger

Chicago has produced some remarkable politicians over the decades, including women who broke ground at the city, state, and national levels. Amongst them are the first Black woman U.S. Senator, the third woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and the first woman mayor of a large U.S. city.

The 150th Birthday of the Chicago Mayor Who Was Killed by a Bullet Meant for FDR

Daniel Hautzinger

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the future mayor of Chicago Anton Cermak was born in an area of Austria-Hungary that is now part of the Czech Republic. The above photo of him with Franklin Delano Roosevelt was taken in 1932, a year before Cermak’s death as a result of his relationship with Roosevelt. FDR won the nomination to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate against Herbert Hoover at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that year.

Revisiting the Biting Articles That Branded Chicago the "Second City"

Daniel Hautzinger

Seventy years ago, the New Yorker writer and New York City native A.J. Liebling published a series of articles about Chicago that saw the city as a "not-quite-metropolis" imbued with a "collective sense of disappointment." Was he right?

A Q&A with the Producer of a New Jane Byrne 'Chicago Stories'

Meredith Francis

Jane Byrne was the first woman to be elected Mayor of Chicago and the first woman to lead a mayor U.S. city. A new Chicago Stories documentary follow's Byrne's rise to power and tenure as mayor. 

The Olympic Athlete Who Became a Powerful Chicago Politician

Daniel Hautzinger

Ralph Metcalfe was once known as the "world's fastest human" and raced alongside Jesse Owens at the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics before becoming an influential Chicago politician who eventually bucked Richard J. Daley and the powerful Democratic machine.

The Woman Who Beat Her Husband to Congress

Daniel Hautzinger

When Emily Taft Douglas won a statewide election to become Illinois's fourth woman in Congress, her husband Paul had already lost a run for Senate and wouldn't win until four years later. Emily also marched with Dr. King, appeared on Broadway, and wrote books.

Mayor Harold Washington Through the Years, in His Own Words

Daniel Hautzinger

Harold Washington was a frequent guest on WTTW over the course of his political career. Hear him discuss his upbringing, his coalitional politics, the Council Wars when he was mayor of Chicago, and more in archival interviews ranging from 1968 through 1984.

What Women Face When They Run for Local Office

Daniel Hautzinger

The documentary Represent follows three women candidates in the Midwest as they run for local office, including a Korean American Republican running on Chicago's North Shore. "A woman called me a white nationalist," she says. "And I thought, 'Me?' "

How Abner Mikva Inspired People to Believe in Government's Power for Good

Daniel Hautzinger

Attending college on the G.I. Bill changed Abner Mikva's life. As a congressman, judge, and mentor to Barack Obama, Elena Kagan, and numerous young people, Mikva tried to show that government could be a force for good in people's lives. 

Rudy Lozano's Multigenerational Legacy and the Growing Power of Chicago's Latino Community

Daniel Hautzinger

Rudy Lozano sought more political power for Latinos in Chicago, and although his life was cut short, his legacy lives on in his friends and family members who continue his political campaigns and activism. 

Frontline's Michael Kirk on 'The Choice 2020'

Daniel Hautzinger

"There has never been a better time for political biography," says the veteran Frontline producer Michael Kirk. "You want to look closely at the character of the two men who are asking to be President of the United States at this perilous time."

Milwaukee's Long Legacy of Socialism

Daniel Hautzinger

Buffalo may soon unseat Milwaukee as the only large American city to have a socialist mayor. Chicago's neighbor to the north has a long history of elected socialist leaders, an appropriate background in the era of Bernie Sanders and other progressives.

A Short History of Corruption in Illinois

Daniel Hautzinger

Stories of corruption amongst politicians in Illinois and Chicago could fill a book—and they have. As federal investigations close in on some of the state's most powerful people, revisit the last half century or so of corruption in the city and state. 

'America's Great Divide' and the 2020 Election

Daniel Hautzinger

"This is really the most important political year coming that I have ever experienced," says Michael Kirk, the producer of Frontline's new, two-part documentary America's Great Divide. "I thought these films could be a kind of overture as the curtain goes up on the political year."
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