Jonathan Halabi at the AFT convention.

-Jonathan Halabi is a New York City teacher, union activist and blogger at JD2718. I will be reposting his daily reports from the American Federation of Teachers convention in Minneapolis. It runs from today through Thursday.

Today: Prequel Chicago.

Before Minneapolis, there was Chicago.

Minneapolis.  2016.  AFT Convention 2016. Three out of four.  AFT 2010, AFT 2014, and now AFT 2016. I’m a visitor. And a blogger-reporter.  I’ll be posting one blog post each evening.  But it’s too early for that.

This is a prequel-post. I am sitting in the press section, waiting for a former cabinet member and  current candidate for president to address the hall. But I’m thinking of Chicago. Not Chicago 68, and not the Chicago Fire, but the Chicago of my last two days, vacation days, staying with Fred Klonsky and Anne Lowry Klonsky in Logan Park.

Great visit. We played “missed social cues” Sunday morning. No one was keeping score, but Anne clearly won. Sunday dinner at Logan Square. And the visit started the day before at Logan Square. Waiting for Fred by the El station, and what’s on my right? A Norwegian Church. And on my left? Prairie. Real prairie. Welcome to the Midwest.


Fred drove me out to Forest Park, Waldheim Cemetery. Saw the memorial to the Haymarket martyrs, heroes of labor, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’s stone, and a field of graves of national and Chicago leaders of the Communist Party.


We drove through Hyde Park. Fred showed me where the first chain reaction took place (I got a photo) and where Obama’s house is (way too much security, couldn’t get close, no picture). We saw some Frank Lloyd Wright stuff, too.


The worst part of the trip has no photos. Miles of public housing on the south side were missing, knocked down by Rahm Emmanuel.  The schools that served the projects? Miles of them. Empty. Half-empty. Taken over by privately run (charter) schools. The saddest? DuSable High School. Looks like it was THE high school for the Black Community on the south side. Half empty. Facing urban fields across the street, blank spaces where thousands used to live.

There was an unworldly good chicken curry dinner, Anne freshly ground and combined the spices. A good argument over Trump and the Republicans (is there still a national republican party?)  And another argument over who to vote for. (If 99% of African Americans vote for Clinton, can you vote for someone else? And is the main threat, Trump, such a threat that the goal in this election is beating him by as much as possible?)  And over the relative roles and importance of belief vs following the law in Judaism. Anne referred us to Karen Lewis, who expertly answered our questions with questions.

And there was Wrigley. My first visit inside the friendly confines, ever. Against Texas, a sellout, and Fred got us seats in section 503. The highest section. Deep deep deep left. Next section over? Rooftop of a building across the street. (one of which hosted a wedding. Vows were 15 minutes before the first pitch). Wrigley is a great stadium. Old, clunky, friendly, feels intimate. And even from section 503, great views. In fact, spectacular, panoramic views. Perfect for watching a home run sail out (Rangers, sorry). And for watching an acrobatic catch in the ivy.



With Lake Michigan in the background.


2 Replies to “Jonathan Halabi at the AFT convention.”

  1. It was a great visit – thanks. Today I saw Franken and Klobuchar and Clinton and Weingarten – but I’m beat. I’ll tie something together in the AM.

  2. My sister & I were at Waldheim to visit our family recently; Mom’s birthday is July 4th (she always referred to herself as a “Yankee Doodle Sweetheart, born on the 4th of July”). Grandma & Grandpa escaped Russia during the pogroms, thank G-d. Our cousins, Jack & Susan Kling (Grandma’s niece) are buried in the martyrs section, leaders in the Communist Party (we enjoyed many a spirited discussion over the years). Cousin Sue wrote a wonderful book on Fannie Lou Hamer, one of which I donated to our middle school library (students don’t ordinarily learn about her in school–I’d only heard of her from my cousins).
    I miss them all.

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