Steve James joins the Conversation

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

The talk of our villages as the school year starts up is America to Me, the compelling and complex 10-part documentary on Oak Park and River Forest High School produced and directed by Steve James, a long-time Oak Parker and creator of such noted documentaries as Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters.

The documentary was previewed last week to a large crowd at the Lake Theater. And this coming Sunday, episode one will debut on the Starz cable channel. 

Today, though, the Journal is announcing that Steve James will be our guest for the latest in our Wednesday Journal Conversations series. This event, done in partnership, as always, with Dominican University, will be on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Once again, Charlie Meyerson of Chicago Public Square will be our moderator.

This will be a fascinating conversation about how America to Me came to be, how James convinced the school board to grant him almost unfettered access to the school for a full year, how he chose the dozen students who are at the heart of this documentary, how he sees the complex issues of race and equity at our high school. 

We'll also be asking ticket holders to send us their questions for Steve James.

Get your tickets now. We've priced them a bit lower than in the past to make sure that families can join in. General admission is $15. Students are $5. And Journal subscribers get a $5 discount, because each of you is very special to us.

This is a great opportunity to be part of Oak Park and River Forest's most important topic just as we step into a national spotlight on education, race and equity.

We'd also ask you to consider it an added opportunity to stand in support of your independent neighborhood newspaper and to help us fund the community journalism we have been doing since 1980. We need your support.

Purchase your tickets at And we'll look for you on Sept. 11.

Email: Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 6:04 PM

@Bruce, I agree with your statement 100%. I don't even understand why you want to spend your time on OP issues if you don't live here anymore. Move on and get involved in your community.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 5:58 PM

@Kevin, you have made it clear on other threads that you aren't a fan of this documentary even before seeing it. Your complaint about 9/11 is silly. At this point you just want to hate on all this so the 9//11 thing has given you another reason to do so. Life moves on and nobody is sitting in their homes doing nothing on 9/11. I am from NY and lost people that day. I don't expect the world to stop now because of it. If anything we shouldn't let that horrible event stop us from moving forward. This might have been the only opportunity for him to be here for all we know. Let's focus on actual things that matter.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 5:20 PM

Jim; you are absolutely correct. Many commentators on, are not current residents of Oak Park, if indeed they ever were. And I for one - don't have a problem with that at all, particularly when the issues at hand are "global." i.e involving issues of importance beyond the mere borders of our village say like SCOTUS appointments and things of that nature. I found, that the "non residents" add to the vibrancy, thoughtfullness and depth of discussion. But when the issue at hand is "hyperlocal" like Oak Park property taxes, then yes, one should have skin in the game ... and be a resident ... IMO.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 3:03 PM

@Kevin What does 9/11 have to do with anything? People still work on 9/11. Schools are still open on 9/11. Stores still do business on 9/11. If the idea of this documentary angers you so much, I have a novel solution for you: DON"T WATCH IT.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 1:37 PM

Fwiw, I suspect that the "Steve James jam" will attract more residents of one political and economic perspective than the other...

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: August 22nd, 2018 1:36 PM

Wait a minute. Dan moved to Berwyn? Have folks noticed that some of the most vocal speakers in the Wed Journal and the comments section-- both on the left and the right -- are FORMER Oak Parkers?!! Or often never lived here at all?

Bruce Kline  

Posted: August 21st, 2018 10:19 PM

The larger concern Kevin, is that Mr.Haley is having his Steve James Jam on a critically important night for Oak Park taxpayers. Namely the night when IMAGINE presents their LTFP (and associated costs) to the BoE. Many of us have waited on this for months as it has a much more existential effect on us (whether we can live here in OP ... or not) than Steve James and his film does. Yeah, I know. Taxes. Not nearly as sexy as a Steve James love fest. Oh, that's right I forgot. Mr. Haley took care of his residential tax burden by escaping to Berwyn.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: August 21st, 2018 7:08 PM

Dan, do you realize that your flagellante fest is being held on 9/11? Does that date mean anything to you? Flagellantes are those people in the Philippines who strip close to naked, and then whip themselves on Good Friday to "celebrate" the Crucifixion. .Have at it Dan and condemn us for the white racist village that we are. Methinks not.

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