Get to Know Your Ward: 21st Ward

NBC Chicago and Ward Room bring you profiles on all 50 wards this election season. As candidates face off in the Feb. 24 election, they are also facing a new ward map, which takes effect when the winners assume office.

In this profile, learn all about the 21st ward, which covers parts of Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and Roseland.


  • Total Population: 51,632
  • White: 0.29 percent
  • Black: 98.01 percent
  • Hispanic: 0.91 percent
  • Asian: 0.04 percent (Source: WBEZ)

Current Alderman: Howard Brookins, Jr.

Ward Committeemen: Howard Brookins, Jr. (democratic committeeman) and Charles Seavers (republican committeeman)

Who Else is Running: Jeff Baker, Doris Brooks, Patricia Foster, Ken Lewis, Marvin McNeil, CM Winters-Palacio (removed) and Joseph Ziegler

Adjectives that Describe the Ward: Violent, community-oriented

Predominant Economic Engine: There is a Walmart and shopping center on the east side of the ward, but the unemployment rate in the area is high.

Where People Eat: Restaurants include several ast food restaurants, fried chicken restaurants, Morrison's Authentic Southern, Maxwell's Charcoal Grill, Morning Glory, Dan's Hot Dogs, Nicole's One Stop Sandwich Shop, Best Jerk, Oriental Chef and Three Chefs.

Where People Drink: Bars include Reese's Lounge, There Lounge, C & B Entertainment, Golden Girls Lounge, Junction and TIme Out Lounge. There are also several liquor stores in the ward.

Where People Pray: Churches and places of worship include Trinity United Church of Christ, Emmanuel Baptist Church, New Nation Anointed Ministries, God's True Love Outreach, Shiloah Baptist Church, Progressive Beulah Pentecostal, First Church of Spirit and Truth, New PIsgah Baptist Church, New Holy Ghost Tabernacle, St. James Industrial Baptist, St. Kilian Church and Tawheed Islamic Center.

How the Ward Typically Votes: Howard Brookins, Jr., was first elected alderman of the 21st ward in 2003. In 2007, he won 61 percent of the vote, defeating Leroy Jones in a runoff. In 2011, Brookins won 55 percent of the vote, defeating Sheldon Sherman (20 percent) and three other challengers.

Landmark: Trinity United Church of Christ, the church where President Obama was married. The church's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., was involved in a scandal in 2008 when he said, "God damn America!" in a sermon, which caused Obama to leave the church.

Resident's Voice: Kevin Morrison, the owner of Morrison's Authentic Southern Cooking, said he would like to see more businesses in the area, particularly businesses owned by African-Americans. He also said the security in the neighborhood has improved, but he would like to see it improved even more.

Ward Expert: Carlos Nelson, executive director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation

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