The Christian Science Monitor

How a Chicago photographer uses art to bridge racial divides

When Tonika Johnson was in high school, her day began at 5:45 each morning at a bus stop at 63rd and South Loomis on Chicago’s South Side. Using bus, train, and another bus, she traveled far from her Englewood neighborhood, with its storefront churches, abandoned houses, and vacant lots, to a selective high school on the city’s North Side, a journey whose final leg took her down a tree-lined street graced with cafes and boutiques.

“I thought, wow, this street looks totally different from my neighborhood,” she says. “Why doesn’t my neighborhood have these things?”

The question has haunted her ever since. The racial and economic divide she crossed each day was an old scar across the city, separating the poorer, mostly African

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