A Second City: West Side Life Expectancy

On the morning of Christmas Eve, a couple wearing thin jackets and sneakers push a shopping cart through the snow on Kildare Avenue in the heart of West Garfield Park. They stop for a moment, catching their breath, in front of the towering New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, before continuing their journey north.

Inside the church, the holiday service is well under way. African American women in smart red dresses and pillbox hats and men in dark three-piece suits pack the pews, the scent of aftershave mixing with the sweet smell of poinsettias. And despite the grey skies outside, light streams down on the congregation through a large stained glass window in the shape of a slave ship. Encircling the ship is the word: REMEMBRANCE.

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