The half-hour special features two storylines, the first, an intimate portrait of one South Shore family who opens up about "life in their neighborhood", the violence that surrounds them and how they beat the odds.
The second, an eye-opening look at Black women's maternal health and maternity deserts on the South Side as expectant mothers, new mothers, and OBGYN doctors give accounts of the obstacles they face. The Muhammad Family story is produced by Terrell Brown; the maternity desert story is produced by Jalyn Henderson and Justyna Syska. Matt Knutson is the executive producer.
Terrell Brown, ABC 7 Morning Anchor/Reporter, said, "I was with the Muhammad family from sunup to sundown. I learned how they played the hand they were given, and navigated tough circumstances to find solid footing and success. I didn't want to narrate or get in the way of their truth. This is their story and I wanted them to tell it in their own words."
Tierra and Jermaine Muhammad are native Chicagoans born on the West and South Sides respectively; violence has left its mark on both of their lives. The couple went on to raise five children, living in a small apartment, immersed in a neighborhood that claims the second-highest violent crime rate in the city.
Terrell spent days inside the Muhammad household, sitting on the floor as Tierra played with her kids, going to work with Jermaine, and walking the neighborhood with their oldest son 17-year-old Fatir-documenting what he fears and why he feels the need to stay inside at certain times. Despite their experience, the Muhammads never wanted to leave Chicago. They talk candidly about how they managed to raise children who are grounded in faith and have achieved personal and academic success. The children also open up about their journey and family ties, including the oldest who received a full academic scholarship to Georgetown University. In addition, Professor Franklin Cosey-Gay, PhD, explains why Black neighborhoods are victims of violence.
Black women are six times more likely to die of childbirth-related issues than the general population. This year several maternity wards were closed on Chicago's South Side, leaving expectant mothers in the midst of a maternity desert.
Over the course of two weeks, ABC 7 producers captured the stories of mothers-to-be, an OBGYN doctor, hospital administrator and an advocate/professor who offer their insight into the struggle for healthcare services in Chicago's most underserved neighborhoods. The special also features a new mother who shares her experience giving birth with the Doula who helped deliver her child.
OUR CHICAGO: LIVING WHILE BLACK is produced by Terrell Brown, Jalyn Henderson and Justyna Syska. Matt Knutson executive producer.
About ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago
ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago is the No. 1 local news source and most-watched television station in Chicago. With top-rated daily newscasts spanning decades and the largest social media presence in the market with more than 2.3 million Facebook followers, ABC7 Eyewitness News provides breaking news, investigative reporting, weather, politics, traffic and sports in the multiplatform space to Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana. Named Best News Operation by the Associated Press for four consecutive years, the station produces 41 hours of local news weekly and Chicago's only local weekday entertainment talk show, "Windy City LIVE," as well as its highest-rated New Year's Eve special. ABC7's award-winning programs such as "Heart and Soul," "The Ñ Beat" and "Asian Influences" showcase the city's diversity, while being the only Chicago station producing and broadcasting parades representing Chicago's rich cultural history. In addition to producing town halls focused on current social issues, the station has a long and proud tradition of broadcasting political candidate debates keeping Chicago's electorate informed. ABC7's outreach efforts include annual partnerships with the Red Cross for life-saving blood drives and, most recently, spearheading an effort to raise more than $1.5 million for area food pantries.