National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter
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Summer of Extremes: Racism, Health Inequity and Heat

June 23, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - June 25, 2020 @ 8:30 pm

Journalists are invited to dissect lessons on racism and health inequity learned from Chicago’s 1995 heatwave replayed during the pandemic.

About this Event

Q: What do Chicago’s 1995 heat wave and the COVID-19 pandemic have in common?

A: The heat wave-death map and the COVID-19-death map are ALMOST IDENTICAL.

It takes extreme crises to push us to confront the systemic roots of racism. No doubt, journalists are on the front lines, translating data and drama into compelling reporting.

In 1995, Chicago was hit by one of the deadliest heat waves in U.S. history, disproportionately killing 739 poor and elderly, mostly people of color. Now history repeats itself. The coronavirus pandemic is exposing the same deadly inequities.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the devastating heat wave, summer 2020 is predicted to be one of the hottest on record—and against the additional public health crisis of police brutality—one of the most revolutionary.

How will journalists reframe and report on this collision of crises?



Your registration is good for one, two or all of the three days.

If you have any questions you know you’d like panelists to address, email the organizers at

DAY 1 – TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2020 7-8:30 PM, CST

“It’s All The Same Map”

Chicago’s heat-death map from 1995 is almost identical to Chicago’s COVID-19-death map — both rooted in the economics and health inequities plaguing Chicago’s communities of color. Such structural inequities are also at the root of police brutality, as seen recently in the killing of George Floyd. What is the role of the journalist in the deeper storytelling behind these crises?

DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2020, 7-8:30 PM, CST

“Mental Health & Reporting on Trauma”

Journalists, and journalists of color, in particular, can struggle to articulate their own trauma experienced while covering crises. Bodies piling up during the heat wave 25 years ago was such a story. Bodies piling up from COVID-19 in the U.S. since January has been such a story. Covering the killing of George Floyd, the subsequent protests and fallout, is also such a story. Let’s talk about it, and the impact.

DAY 3 – THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2020, 7-8:30 PM CST

“The Now And The Future: Reimagining Health Equity & Heat Emergency Planning”

As heat and COVID-19 collide this summer with the public health crisis of police brutality — physical distancing still encouraged — how does the city plan to keep people safe? With issues of environment, public space and equity of infrastructure involved, we look at the role of anchor community groups in South Side and West Side neighborhoods as first-responders on health equity and human heat emergency plans.


June 23, 2020 @ 7:00 pm
June 25, 2020 @ 8:30 pm