Clerk of the Circuit Court Iris Y. Martinez: Transparency To Protect Communities

Jose Alvarez, the Little Village resident accused of fatally shooting his wife and daughter, and wounding his son is expected back in court on July 26.

Below is an opinion editorial by Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Iris Y. Martinez.

This week, the Chicago Tribune published an article by Laura Rodriguez Presa that provided the horrific details of the murder of Karina Gonzalez and her daughter in a domestic violence incident with her husband and the father of her children. He also shot their son, who thankfully survived and is reported to be recovering. Ms. Gonzalez’ story is heartbreaking.

Victims will not trust a system that will not protect them. Without the bravery of those who file protective and firearm restraining orders, both law enforcement and the court system do not have the tools to protect victims of abuse, their children, co-workers, neighbors, and communities. Many victims will never have the chance to become survivors.

Domestic violence incidents (as well as the increase in mass shootings) highlight the need for more use of our “red flag� laws, which are orders that allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from an individual that poses a threat to themselves or others. Increased use would also provide situational awareness and increased safety for all criminal justice partners involved in the process. Waiting until a domestic situation escalates to a 911 call endangers everyone involved.

Although my office does not generally serve orders nor can my office arrest perpetrators, I am committed to providing the leadership needed to pursue a proactive approach for increased education and prevention. To begin, we will expand our law enforcement trainings on how to serve protective orders to augment the current system. We will provide information on how to seek these orders and ensure cultural competency and language assistance is available, and we will connect those seeking protective orders to critical support services.

I invite every stakeholder, advocacy group, and community provider to collaborate with us to increase access to housing, job placements, language assistance, mental health care, and other holistic services for victims, survivors, and their families.

During my first term as Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, my administration has worked tirelessly to automate the two most antiquated, court record systems in the country. The two massive court systems, criminal and civil, required millions upon millions of files to be digitized and filed. This transformed the court systems top to bottom, and I am so proud of the work we have accomplished.

Besides efficiency in government, why is this important to all citizens?

Because the transparency we can now provide to the public will lead to impactful changes and contribute to the improvement of our public safety and health in Cook County.

Those in the legal profession appreciate the ability to file cases online, but the biggest impacts of these efforts are still in progress. Previously, the lack of available information from our court systems impacted everything from research opportunities to the ability of our community providers to acquire grant funding and other financial supports due to the lack of data available. It is now time to leverage these efforts to collaborate, innovate and improve public service to our citizens. This work is imperative, and to begin, we will be focusing on some of our most vulnerable populations: those who are filing protective orders and firearm restraining orders.

In the fall, I will be in Springfield armed with new data, fighting for further reforms to our laws and proposing legislation to safeguard our communities.

My message to those who are struggling today with any form of abuse is one of hope. There are many survivors thriving in our communities, and I am committed to providing a pathway forward for you and your loved ones to be safe.

On November 3, 2020, Clerk Iris Y. Martinez made history when elected as the first Latina Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the largest of the 24 judicial circuits in Illinois as well as one of the largest unified court systems in the world.

Since the Clerk took office on December 1, 2020, she has centered efforts on the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Office while supporting her mission to update and increase the use of technology, transform operations, and increase transparency while providing the proper COVID-19 safeguards at all our locations for our employees and constituents. 

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Catalina Ramos Hernandez: Equitable access to organ transplants

There are over 100 thousand people waiting for transplants in the U.S., and 60 percent are from marginalized communities, according to the Health Resources and Service Administration.

Donate Life America seven finds that seventeen people in the United States die each day waiting for an organ, and a new person is added to the national transplant waiting list every nine minutes.

When it comes to kidney donations; the wait from a deceased donor is three to five years, or longer. There are almost 90,000 people on the national transplant waiting list in need of a kidney.

Hispanic Latinos are among the groups that most need transplants, but often don’t get the life saving operation because they lack the resources to obtain post-transplant medications needed to maintain the transplanted organ and their life. 

The Illinois Transplant Fund, founded in 2015, aims to increase access to organ transplants by targeting the inequity of health insurance access.

Catalina Ramos Hernandez, Program Coordinator with ITF was a guest on the podcast, “3 Questions With…�, hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

In Illinois, 16 percent of adults with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are uninsured. This impacts low-income individuals, the working poor, and people of color. The ITF focuses on increasing access to health insurance for qualified Illinois residents listed for organ transplants. “The transplant center(s) said, “We are willing to do the surgery for free”, but the problem is the medications that they (patients) need to take for life and they are extremely expensive,” recalled Ramos Hernandez in outlining the social problem. “Sometimes three, four thousand dollars a month.”

For eligible patients, ITF assistance covers 100% of the monthly health insurance premium for the insurance plan selected by the patient. After three years, ITF works with each transplant recipient family to transition the responsibility for their insurance needs to the patient by reducing ITF support gradually, unless a patient remains unable to contribute due to financial hardship. To date, no patient has been removed from ITF support who could not afford his/her own insurance.

 Although the Hispanic-Latino population is among the groups that most need transplants, they are among the most reluctant to register to become donors. “We (Latinos) need to donate more,” said Ramos Hernandez. “Whether it is a lack of education or lack of willingness is still in debate.” Ramos Hernandez believes one of the main barriers to Latinos becoming organ donors is a need for more diversity in the medical field. She considers a culturally sensitive approach to engaging with potential Latino organ donors is needed.

Balta is an organ donor. Last year, he donated one of his kidneys to his wife, Adriana. The transplantation was the second one for her as she underwent a liver transplant nearly 20 years ago.

SUGGESTION: Organ Donation: A Birthday Story

Balta is also a board member of the Illinois Transplant Fund.

“3 Questions With…� is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN), an independent, multimedia digital news outlet with local newsrooms in the Northeast and Midwest, including IL Latino News  and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community centric news, hyperlocal stories and educational resources.

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As a musician, Nina del Rio does not want to be boxed in

BOSTON — The blue lights behind the Red Room’s stage at Cafe 939 in Berklee College gave the space a velvety feel, matching the softness of tonight’s singer: Nina Del Río. Her musical introductions in English were fused with Spanish lyrics that came to life with the soulful melodies produced by her band.

This is Del Río in her element.

Her music is a mix of R&B and neo-soul, but she said she does not want to be boxed into a single genre. 

“You don’t have to choose where you’re from if you feel like you’re from a lot of places,â€� Del Río shared in an interview.

Del Río’s musical exposure began with her dancing to The Beatles and attending concerts in Brooklyn—many of which centered around jazz—said the artist’s mother, Bibi Calderaro, in a phone interview. Her parents also made frequent trips to Argentina, her cultural origin, with Del Río “to give her the freedom to experience it on her own,� said Calderaro.

Del Río, currently 21 years old and living in Boston part-time, took the opportunity to experience Buenos Aires on her own when she took a gap year there during the first year of the pandemic. 

This time in her life inspired her second studio project, “What I Loved About You Es Lo Que Amo De Mi.�

“When I wrote the last album, I was in a situation where my world was in Spanish because I was living in Argentina, but I was going through a breakup with someone [in the US],� said Del Río.

In the album, the lyrics mirror what she describes as her “stream of consciousness,� in transitioning between English and Spanish.

“In that moment, it was the most natural way to explain how I was feeling because there are things that you can say in Spanish that you can’t say in English and vice versa,â€� said Del Río.

These two identities also mesh in her improvisational musical approach, influenced by the collective practice of practicing Argentinian folk music and being exposed to jazz artists in New York.

“I got really used to environments where you could kind of just show up with chords and not much else and just play songs,� said Del Río. She said she often heads into practice with the perspective of seeing where the music takes her, said Del Río.

“She had a very good way of letting the musicians add their own flavors to the music,â€� said her partner Alejandro Vilarrasa-Corriero, who played in a band with Del Río during their high school years. 

“We always got to participate in some way,� said Vilarrasa-Corriero.

Music has been the common thread sewn throughout Del Río’s life. When she was four, she declared that wanted to be a singer, Calderaro recalled.

“Nina has always wanted to sing,� said Calderaro. “It might have been a fantasy at the beginning, but then she kept at it and we encouraged it.�

She sang in choirs and began playing the piano at a very young age. Through enrichment programs, she became exposed to the way music can hold a variety of meanings. 

In the traditional school setting, she learned musical theory, classical composition, and the distinctive elements that made up the genres she pulls from today.

Del Río’s musical history impacts the way she thinks of her current higher education institution, Berklee College of Music.

“My goal is to make school feel like it’s just nourishing everything else that I’m doing,â€� said Del Río. “[Berklee is] a space that gives you the structure to [make music] and also gives you feedback and guidance.â€�

This report was published in collaboration with the Boston University School of Communications School of Journalism. The journalism student is a member of a Reporting in Depth class taught by former Boston Globe reporter Meghan Irons.

Dumont Selected As Center For Health Journalism 2023 National Fellow 

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism announced “the selection of 20 talented journalists to participate in its 2023 National Fellowship to report on issues affecting child, youth and family health and well-being in the United States.” Belen Dumont, Editor for the Latino News Network (LNN) – Northeast and Writer for Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) is among them.

The competitive program includes a five-day training that provides insights into how health is shaped by community conditions, systemic racism and opportunity. Through reporting stipends and months of expert mentoring, the Center for Health Journalism supports Fellows as they produce investigative and explanatory projects on challenges affecting child, youth and family well-being.

“I’m proud to welcome this group of reporters to Los Angeles this week. “We look forward to partnering with them (journalists) as they produce stories on health equity and systemic disparities in their communities that aim to make a difference,” said Michelle Levander, founding director of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism and editor-in-chief of its online community.

“I’m incredibly excited and grateful to have been selected to participate in the 2023 Center for Health Journalism National Fellowship,” said Dumont. She will spend the next several months investigating and producing solutions-focused stories on rising rising obesity rates among children and youth of color across Hartford County, CT. “I am honored to be able to cover my hometown community and highlight culturally-informed efforts that aim to combat racially disproportionate childhood obesity rates in Connecticut and support underserved child populations.â€�

“Grants like the Center for Health Journalism, provides dedicated journalists like Belen, and independent newsrooms like CTLN, the resources necessary to produce authentic stories that resonate with communities often invisible in the coverage of mainstream media,� said Hugo Balta, Owner and Publisher of LNN. LNN oversees six independent digital news outlets in the Northeast and Midwest, including CTLN.

The 2023 National Fellowship is generously funded by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The National Fellowship also receives support from The California Endowment and the Kristy Hammam Fund for Health Journalism, an initiative of the Social Impact Fund. 

Rhode Island’s Urban Communities See Less State Education Funding, More Pandemic-Related Learning Loss

The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) is urging the General Assembly to reevaluate and adjust how it distributes education funding across the state. 

A recent report from RIPEC revealed that districts including Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, West Warwick, and Woonsocket represent about one-third of state-wide student enrollment yet received less than half of all new funding over the past three years. 

“Rhode Island faces particular challenges when it comes to education funding because our communities are so diverse,â€� shared Jeff Hamill of RIPEC. “We have several districts with very low property wealth and high concentrations of poor students that are heavily reliant on state funding.â€� 

While funding for multilingual learners has increased in recent years, RIPEC suggests that the General Assembly improves the funding formula it uses to better calculate students living in poverty and the needs of underserved Rhode Island districts.  

“…In Rhode Island, there are several communities with property wealth much lower than the state overall and dramatically lower than more affluent communities. Many of these municipalities with the least ability to raise property tax revenues for education also have much higher concentrations of economically disadvantaged and multilingual students—who require greater educational resources,â€� reads the July RIPEC Policy Brief. “Consequently, these communities rely heavily on state funding to provide an adequate education for their students. 

Another report released this past spring found that students across Rhode Island lost over four months of learning math and two months of learning reading amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Researchers at Harvard and Stanford University conducted the Education Recovery Scorecard, a nationwide report that evaluates learning loss between 2019 and 2022. The report compiles data from 8,000 communities in 40 states and Washington D.C. 

“What we did was we pulled together all of the results on last spring’s assessments from different states and put them on the same scale so you could compare the losses by districts across states,â€� said Thomas Kane of Harvard University. 

The report revealed that South Kingstown students lost almost nine months in learning math and over five months in reading, Newport students saw up to eight months of learning loss in math and over six months of learning loss in reading. 

Districts including Providence, Woonsocket, Westerly, North Providence, Cranston, West Warwick, Pawtucket, East Providence, and Chariho lost around six months of learning in math and three months in reading. 

The only district that did not show any learning loss in math or reading during the pandemic was Narragansett. 

Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green has previously shared that it will take around three to five years for students to catch up, according to NBC 10 WJAR.

Antonio Santos: Culturally Reflective Action

Black and Latino residents are three to four times more likely to be financially vulnerable than their white counterparts, according to a study by the Financial Health Network earlier this year. For many, that means they are unable to pay all of their bills on time, and about 4 in 10 reported that they experienced food insecurity because of it, in the last year.

Government at all levels looks to improve food access, advancing racial justice and equity for low-income, underserved communities. Still, barriers like immigration status, language, and transportation prevent Latinos from tapping into resources. Adding to the dismay, pandemic-era benefit programs have lapsed. Many of the food pantry pop-ups that sprang up for a couple of months, stopped when government funding ran out. But they had already become a food source community members below the poverty level relied upon.

In response to the need, the Gage Park Latinx Council, a queer, femme, DACA, and Latinx-led grassroots organization based on Chicago’s Southwest Side, launched the year-round initiative El Mercadito – a free community market that provides culturally reflective food to families in our community.

Antonio Santos, Executive Director and Founder of the GPLXC was a guest on the podcast, “3 Questions With…�, hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

Santos said that it is important for El Mercadito to distribute culturally reflective food. “The families that we are serving are not going to know what to do with quinoa or powdered milk,” he said. “So, we give out tortillas and tomatoes, jalapenos and whatever the people who are coming to us are asking.”

Santos also shared how the GPLXC creates youth spaces; especially for those with few resources who find it difficult to be inspired, creative, and socialize. “When we opened the GPLXC Cultural Center, we wanted to make it a welcoming, warm, comfortable environment,” Santos said. Services include mentoring for young people who are often the first members of their family to pursue a higher education. In addition to educational and creative programs, Santos says the GPLXC provides an opportunity for young people to relax. “I think there’s not a lot of emphasis in letting people in our communities have spaces to just be,” he said. “School can be stressful. Many of the young people in our community are also helping their families financially. They’re raising their siblings. If a teenager can come into our space and play video games for a while, or read a book, or talk with friends – that’s really transformational.”

“3 Questions With…� is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN), an independent, multimedia digital news outlet with local newsrooms in the Northeast and Midwest, including IL Latino News  and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community centric news, hyperlocal stories and educational resources.

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Affirmative Action Supreme Court Decision Affects Wisconsin Higher Ed

Another monumental decision by the Supreme Court this year has struck down affirmative action, declaring that race cannot be considered by higher learning institutions during the college admissions process. 

The 6-3 decision ruled in favor of Students for Fair Admissions, who sued Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC), alleging that race-conscious practices discriminate against Asian American prospective students. 

In the majority ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “The student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual –not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.�

Unlike the use of racial quotas, which were deemed unconstitutional in 1978, affirmative action intends to consider race holistically, recognizing barriers to education. The 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case allowed affirmative action, ruling that because college acceptances and rejections are not based on the sole variable of race, it was not a violation of the 14th Amendment. 

WI higher education institutions react 

Leaders at Marquette University penned a letter to community members, expressing their commitment to current and future students, “Marquette will continue to do everything we legally can to recruit a diverse student body that reflects the world around us and enhances the transformational education we seek to provide.�

In 2022, Marquette University and 56 other Catholic colleges and universities joined an amicus brief urging the court to uphold affirmative action as it considered the Harvard and UNC cases.

This ruling comes as UW-Madison welcomed its most diverse incoming freshman class this fall, with about one-third identifying as students of color, a 6% increase from the previous academic year.

“The full implications of today’s ruling — both nationally and on our campus — will not be known for some time. UW–Madison and UW System attorneys are now carefully reviewing the Court’s opinions and monitoring the potential release of additional guidance from relevant federal agencies,� Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin said in a statement.

The statement continues, stating that the school’s admissions process will be modified to comply with the law.

“This will certainly disadvantage students who don’t have access to college counselors and consultants, tutors, in other words, poor, minority students,� U-W Madison Political Science Professor Howard Schweber said during an interview with Fox6 News.

Republican lawmakers target diversity programs at the local level

Days before the Supreme Court decision, local lawmakers voted to cut the University of Wisconsin System’s budget by $32 million, despite a $7 billion state budget surplus. $32 million, republicans say, is what they estimate would be spent on UW’s diversity, equity and inclusion programs over the next two years.

“They need to refocus their priorities on being partners on developing our workforce and the future of the state and we’re hopeful that they’re going to be ready to do that as we move forward,� Republican State Rep. Mark Born, and co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee said.

Prior to the official cut, System President Jay Rothman warned of potential tuition increases and school closures if the committee carried out the proposed budget.

​​“It’s just that simple,� he stated. “We do not have the resources to continue to simply do what we have done before.�

According to the fall 2022 enrollment numbers, Hispanic students account for 7.2% of the UW Systems student body. 5.1% of students identified as Asian, 2.9% African American and 72.9% identified as white. 

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Latino News Network Chosen To Participate In Solutions Journalism Network’s Complicating the Narratives (CTN) 2023 Fellowship

“As the United States grapples with worsening polarization and seemingly intractable conflict, the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) is thrilled to announce its second class of Complicating the Narratives (CTN) Fellows,” writes Julia Hotz, Fellowship Manager with SJN.

Eleven journalists, representing a wide variety of geographies and communities, will spend the next 12 months using CTN techniques and interview questions to report on solutions to some of the nation’s most divisive issues, with communities historically misrepresented by media and misunderstood by audiences. In the Meet The 2023 Fellows post, Hotz shares that “topics for our fellows’ projects range from gender-affirming care to wildfire management; the goal is to replace polarization, problems and simplicity with understanding, solutions and complexity.”

Hugo Balta, Publisher of the Latino News Network (LNN) is a CTN Fellow. “Mainstream news more often than not focuses on extreme views creating a false impression of divergence that bolsters fear and distrust,â€� Balta. “Elaborate ideas and points of view require more than overly simplistic bite sized misleading narratives served up by the establishment.â€� Balta’s CTN project will explore conflict and solutions surrounding health insurance access and inequities.

CTN helps journalists to find new ways to report on controversial issues and polarizing politics. It draws on the experience of experts in conflict mediation. When reporters use these strategies, they listen better, ask more revealing questions, effectively introduce opposing viewpoints, and embrace nuance in their reports. They learn to tell more accurate, richer, and fuller stories.

The SJN trainings are centered around the four pillars of CTN which focus on skills and techniques including:

  • Listening differently through the technique of Looping
  • Going beneath the problem by asking interview questions that probe and uncover motivations rather than positions
  • Framing and covering stories from a different lens; stories that embrace complexity and provide necessary context
  • Countering confirmation bias in our audience and ourselves through infographics, inclusive events and exercises that check journalist blind spots

LNN has been chosen to participate in SJN fellowships before. Last year, LNN participated in the Democracy SOS fellowship supporting reporters and editors in significantly strengthening journalism’s role in advancing our democracy through innovative approaches that build civic engagement, equity, and healthy discourse. In 2021, Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) was among the newsrooms chosen to be part of the Advancing Democracy project. CTLN produced a special series exploring responses to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country. 

This year, Belen Dumont, Writer/Editor with LNN East is a fellow in the Democracy SOS fellowship. Dumont’s project will focus on affordable housing.

Balta is an accredited solutions journalism trainer. He recently led “Solutions journalism: New ways of elevating your reporting and engaging audiences”, a free online course hosted by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Balta will be leading the “Fair, Accurate And Ethical Storytelling: How To Serve Your Latinx Community With Solutions Journalism” at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Conference in Miami, Florida on July 13.

Publisher’s Notes: NH Latino News is part of the Latino News Network.

Dance instructor uses Brazilian Zouk to challenge cultural norms, inspire peace

When all distractions fade away, the soothing flow of Brazilian Zouk dancing takes hold of José Cuadra. 

Tilting his head and turning to the music, he begins to feel as though he’s in flight. “It’s very flowy, and yet it’s very complicated,� he explained.

Cuadra shared that Zouk embodies the mission that he imparts as a gay immigrant leader in Boston’s dance community.

He teaches the dance style as an instructor and director at Urbanity Dance, a nonprofit arts organization in the South End.

Derived from Lambada, known as the “forbidden danceâ€� in Brazil, Zouk opens up a new world of acceptance and exploration to his students. He tries to capture this self-awareness and authenticity in his classes and performances. 

Urbanity Director and Founder Betsi Graves said she is grateful that Cuadra is part of their community.  

“It is clear that he cares deeply about dance as an art form and the Boston dance community,� Graves said.

But embracing this sense of peace and community was not always easy for Cuadra.

Many styles of dance can be strict with rules and traditions. For Cuadra, Zouk was fresh and new. “I felt like I was early enough in it so I could make changes about it,â€� he said. 

Cuadra, 44, was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and immigrated to Massachusetts as a child. He worked in Boston for 20 years as a green card holder, which became an issue last May when he lost his job after 15 years. He said he’d lost the card and had applied for a replacement. But as his application was being processed, he said his employer fired him. “It felt like an excuse to push me out,â€� Cuadra said. 

As immigration officials looked into the situation, Cuadra said he experienced a newfound freedom to pursue his passion for dance. 

Cuadra has adopted many roles at Urbanity. He is a director, chief of staff, and member of Urbanity’s residency program.

But Cuadra said that as a gay man, he has also faced discrimination in dance—particularly in Latin dance where participants tend to prefer more traditional dancing roles. 

He said he was ridiculed and stopped from dancing with other men or experimenting with changing up traditional leader-follower roles. Cuadra was not dissuaded from ending his dance career. Instead, he embraced it. His goal was to enact change from the inside. 

“Something in me told me not to give up,’’ he shared. “I teach now because of this so people don’t have to experience [what I experienced].â€�

Despite his early troubles, Cuadra found pockets of peace in Boston. An eye-opening instance for him was at a social event in Cambridge when he first discovered Zouk. He recalled loving the openness of the dance. 

With Zouk, “I can relax and enjoy a dance without having these extra things attacking me or making me feel uncomfortable,â€� he explained. 

Finding acceptance in dance gave Cuadra the drive to teach Zouk. “Because I was exposed to that feeling of being at my own peace with dance… I was like I need to see how I can help others to experience this more,” he said. “Something in me told me not to give up.â€�

Cuadra gained more exposure in and around the city, distinguishing himself as an instructor of Zouk and a gay man. He has co-hosted a Facebook group called Zouk On The Docks, for the past six years. This nonprofit group has gained much of its traction by word of mouth.

He dances now with “a higher purpose,’’ even on tough days. “I know the struggles I’m going through,â€� he said, noting that if he hangs on, “change will happenâ€� soon for the better.

This story was published as part of a collaboration with Boston University’s School of Journalism in the College of Communication. The student journalist is a member of a Reporting in Depth class taught by former Boston Globe reporter Meghan Irons.

TheaterWorks Hartford Play Comments On Life After Incarceration

Theatergoers adorned Pearl Street in Downtown Hartford on Friday night for TheaterWorks Hartford’s premiere of the Tony-nominated performance, “Clyde’sâ€�.  

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage first opened “Clyde’sâ€� on Broadway at Hayes Theater in 2021. A blend of comedy and social commentary, Hartford’s performance is directed by Chicago-based Director Mikael Burke and runs from July 7–30.  

“Clyde’s is a delicious workplace comedy that reminds us that a great sandwich is so much more than just the sum of its parts,â€� Burke commented. “The play asks: Are we just the products of our mistakes, or is it possible to transcend them to become something more?â€� 

A formerly incarcerated kitchen staff at a truck stop sandwich shop in Pennsylvania is offered a shot at reclaiming their lives. Despite the shop owner’s attempts to keep them under her control and influence, the crew discovers purpose and personal aspirations through their shared quest of creating the perfect sandwich. 

“This funny, touching, and tasty tale shows us that while it’s easy to give up on ourselves when the world tells us we should, we must remember to love ourselves fully—mistakes and all—to free ourselves from our own prisons of self-hate. We, too, are more than just the sum of our parts,� Burke shared.

TheaterWorks Hartford has partnered with Community Partners in Action (CPA) to support its annual fundraiser. On Thursday, July 13, all proceeds from Clyde’s performance that night will be donated to support CPA and the Prison Arts Program. 

With at least 11 productions, “Clyde’s� has been the most-produced play across the country this past season, according to an annual survey by American Theater magazine.

“Clyde’s’ just hit the sweet spot—it has a multiracial cast, it addresses issues of incarceration and racial tension, it’s a comedy, and it’s really smart, and it’s by a Pulitzer winner,� American Theater Editor-In-Chief Rob Weinert-Kendt told the New York Times. “It’s a comedy, but it’s not turning away from the world.�

TheaterWorks Hartford’s cast includes ​​Ayanna Bria Bakari as Letitia, Michael Chenevert as Montrellous, Samuel María Gómez as Rafael, David T. Patterson as Jason, and Latonia Phipps as Clyde

Tickets are priced from $25 to $65 and can be purchased online or through the phone at (860)527-7838. The show runs for 95 minutes with no intermission. TheaterWorks Hartford no longer requires proof of vaccination, learn more about its COVID policy at 

“Clyde’s has everything that our audiences love: great writing, funny, entertaining, intimate, and relatable, and it encourages important conversations in the community,� remarked Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero.

Publisher’s Notes: CT Latino News is proud to partner with TheaterWorks Hartford in supporting the state’s Arts and Culture.