Former U.S. senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun made a campaign stop at Greater St. John Bible Church last Sunday Jan. 9, joined by a former rival for the Chicago mayoral job. U.S. Rep. Danny Davis joined Braun, and church pastor, Rev. Ira Acree in a sign of unity. Davis dropped out of the race for mayor last month and pledged his support to Braun as the “consensus” black candidate. State Sen., the Rev. James Meeks left the race prior to Davis.

Hatch bows out of 29th Ward race

West Side pastor Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim Church has dropped out of the race for 29th Ward alderman. Hatch previously ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2003 against former alderman Isaac Carothers. The pastor has not made an endorsement in the race since leaving.

Summer festival planned for West Side

A West Side group is planning to host a five-day Juneteenth celebration this summer in Garfield Park.

Juneteenth the African American Independence Day Festival (JAAIDF), based in Austin, will host the music and arts festival and kick-off parade, scheduled from June 18-22. The group’s founders, Austin native Rickie Brown and Ron Smith, put on similar but smaller-scale Juneteenth events in the past, the last one taking place in 2006. A lack of money and support forced them to stop, the founders said. This year’s festival thus far has the support of 29th Ward Ald. Deborah Graham and 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts. Juneteenth is a celebrated holiday in 36 states, including Illinois, commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.

8,000 canned donations for Columbus Park Food Pantry

A food drive this past Christmas season spearheaded by a local elected official netted nearly 10,000 canned donations to a struggling Austin food pantry. In all, about 8,000 canned items were collected for the Columbus Park Food Pantry, located at the park’s Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson. State Rep. LaShawn Ford (8th) helped organize the drive after speaking with the pantry’s director, Marjorie Cobbs, about donations being down this year. The Austin-based pantry is one of many satellite sites of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. It’s also one of the few sites in Austin that’s unaffiliated with a church, according to Cobbs, who founded the pantry 17 years ago. She runs the service as an unpaid director with a six-to-seven person volunteer staff who also work without a salary.

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