I just wanna emphasize that this was a grassroots effort, meaning it came from the community and then got brought to the legislators. It was not

a top-down situation. 

Chris Aldana, Know History, Know Self



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Know History, Know Self

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The Road to Reclaiming History

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Growing a Greater Englewood

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Cooking Up Opportunity

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Who We Are

Agency | ˈājənsē |
noun

action or intervention, especially such as to produce a particular effect

Too often the actions of real people of color making ​real​ ​change​ in their neighborhoods and lives are ignored in the media.

Even worse are portrayals that people of color lack the ​agency​ to address the wrongs and find solutions that empowers residents and improves conditions. Too often these stories are told from outside, not inside, the community.

Developed by Judith McCray and Maurice Bisaillon of Juneteenth Productions, Change Agents is a partnership between community organizers and emerging journalists of color who are provided the tools to produce professionally crafted episodes that highlight issues, challenges and ground level efforts for change.



Behind-the-Scenes Team

Executive Producer

Judith McCray

is an award winning documentary filmmaker, broadcast journalist and producer. Twenty three years ago she founded Juneteenth Productions to find and tell stories from the perspective and experiences of people who matter, whom we hear too little about or from. She passionately believes that media is an effective tool for positive social change and reaching people and communities that are underrepresented. She loves sailing and horseback riding - but rarely gets to do either.

Executive Producer

Maurice Bisaillon

is a media producer with more than 20 years of broadcast production experience, working with A&E, History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS and more. His A&E Biography on Barack Obama is the most widely viewed episode in the history of the franchise. He’s a recent transplant to Chicago and has thoroughly lost his mind trying to furnish his apartment through Facebook Marketplace.

Funding provided by the Field Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust. City Bureau is our fiscal sponsor.

Our Stories

Season Two

COVID19 reaches into 2022.

2022 and the world adjusts to a new normal in the pandemic - balancing remote and in person activities, masks - no masks debates, vaccine boosters and COVID fatigue.  In the midst of this uncertainty, organizers and citizens struggle to make a way for social change and find solutions for their lives, neighborhoods and communities.  

Know History, Know Self

Know History, Know Self

Many crucial historical perspectives are missing from classrooms all over the nation. Like many other BIPOC youth, Asian-American students do not see their rich histories and cultures represented in the curriculums of their schools; a Chicago-based nonprofit, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, decide to do something about that by spearheading the TEAACH Act. This is the story of their fight to mandate Asian-American curriculum in Illinois schools.

The Road to Reclaiming History

The Road to Reclaiming History

As communities across the nation grapple with the racist symbols of their past in the form of statues and monuments, in University City, Missouri citizens have embarked on their own journey of racial reckoning; centering the debate on a less discussed, but more common form of memorial. As part of the Renaming Streets Task Force, seven citizens had 120 days to research over 200 street names and determine which ones should be targeted for change. Join Change Agents hosts Victoria Benefield and Emily Soto for The Road to Reclaiming History.

Growing a Greater Englewood

Growing a Greater Englewood

Where do you get food when the grocery stores aren't open, or when their shelves have gone bare? Many Chicagoans asked themselves this question for the first time during the 2020 Covid pandemic, but for those living in the food deserts of the city's West and Southside's, the question wasn't a new one. Join Change Agents producers Liz Murice Alexander, and Dylan Cohen as they take a look at the urban farming collective Grow Greater Englewood, who works in partnership with community stakeholders to develop local food economies and land sovereignty which empower residents to thrive.

Cooking Up Opportunity

Cooking Up Opportunity

ChiFresh is a thriving food service contractor run by worker-owners who are all formally incarcerated. On busy days ChiFresh can prepare and deliver upwards of 500 meals for clients ranging from nursing homes to schools. Soon though, they will be able produce TEN TIMES that number, as they ready themselves for a move to a much larger space in the city's westside. Join Change Agents producers Charles Tharpe and Justin Myers as they introduce us to these entrepreneurs and share their stories of second chances and transformations, in Cooking Up Opportunity.



Our Voices



Victoria Benefield

Victoria Benefield: Co-producer "Road to Reclaiming History." Victoria is a junior at Northwestern University studying journalism, history, and film and media studies. Her work has been featured in The Daily Northwestern and North by Northwestern. She is passionate about multimedia journalism that uses history to approach and analyze modern social justice issues. One of Victoria's hobbies is long-distance running, and she's planning to run her third half-marathon this fall.

Charles Tharpe

Charles Tharpe: Co-producer "Cooking up Opportunity." Charles is finishing up his master’s degree in Journalism at Northwestern University and has worked in media management and plans to pursue a career in audience engagement. He owns 50 pairs sneakers and, and swears it's not a lot compared to other sneaker heads!

Dylan Cohen

Dylan Cohen: Co-producer "Growing a Greater Englewood." Dylan is an experienced theatre professional with skills in production, marketing, programming, artistic direction, and social media. Currently, Dylan is working on a Master's Thesis Project that explores reconnection through immersive technology. While pursuing Digital Communication and Media Arts at DePaul, Dylan has developed a sophisticated liking of The Muppets.

Elizabeth Murice Alexander

Elizabeth Murice Alexander: Co-producer "Growing a Greater Englewood." Elizabeth is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the African American Digital and Experimental Humanities Initiative (AADHum) at the University of Maryland, College Park. They also serve as Social Media Manager at Public Narrative, lead creative at SixtyFifthSt Media, and are a member of the Immersive Realities Lab digital experimental workgroup.

Emily Soto

Emily Soto: Co-producer "Road to Reclaiming History." Emily is a senior at DePaul University where she is studying Journalism with a minor in Media and Cinema studies. She also works as the Photo and Video Editor at 14 East, a job that has helped support her love of multimedia reporting. Interestingly, Emily began her college career studying Biology, but after realizing it wasn't for her, she found her passion for storytelling and never looked back.

Justin Myers

Justin Myers: Co-producer "Cooking up Opportunity." Justin is a community-focused journalist who has previously helped produce content for NBC 5 News, WTTW and DePaul University’s Center for Journalism Integrity & Excellence. He comes from the cornfields of Central Illinois and has been reporting in the Windy City for five years, adjusting himself to the trials and tribulations of city life. As a teenager, he held the prestigious honor of being the top dairy cattle judger at his high school two years in a row.

Our Community

The following grassroots organizations serving communities of color across Chicago land partnered with the ​Change Agents​ journalists, generating authenticity, insight and trusted connections for our stories.

Events

Contact

If you have a story idea or know of activists organizations working to bring solutions to the needs of a Chicago-land community of color, please send us a message.

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