Cheryl Corley

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And let's remember a man who brought blues to music fans across the country. Phil Chess has died at age 95. He co-founded Chess Records, the Chicago label that was home to Etta James and Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more.

In an effort to heal the fractured relationship between the Chicago Police Department and city residents, the city council voted to approve a new police oversight agency, but some critics say the new agency isn't a solution to the problems facing the community.

Each of the photos in Capt. William A. Prickitt's album could fit in a locket: headshots of 17 black soldiers who served under the Union Army officer during the Civil War, most of their names handwritten on the mat surrounding the images.

At just 2 inches tall, the square, leather-bound album itself could be easily misplaced among the more than 35,000 artifacts it will join at the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens this week in Washington, D.C.

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Tacarra Morgan lives in a big two-story, A-frame house that sits next to an empty, grassy corner lot on Chicago's South Side.

On a sunny afternoon earlier in July, gunfire broke out while the 6-year-old sat on the porch with her grandmother and her mother, Carolyn Morris.

"All l I know, bullets starting coming from that way. I didn't see who was shooting," Morris says. "I didn't see anything and my daughter is so strong, I didn't even know she was shot."

They all ran in the house; all Tacarra said was that her stomach hurt, her mother recalls.

In churches across the country, pastors, priests and other religious leaders will talk to a nation still reeling from this past week's fatal shootings of two black men by police officers and the death of five police officers slain by a lone gunman. People often turn to faith during times of crisis — attending services and listening to sermons.

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Former Illinois Congressman Abner Mikva, a mentor to President Obama, has died at the age of 90. Mikva had served in all three branches of government. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more.

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Tiny homes, which can be as little as 50 to 300 square feet, are growing in popularity as a solution for the homeless. In Chicago, advocates want to build tiny houses to serve a specific marginalized group — homeless youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

Chicago's North Broadway Street is always bustling, but in the past few weeks, it has been noisier than ever. There is water flowing from an open fire hydrant, and as traffic inches by, a cement truck backs up and pours concrete down into a big hole in the street.

"Well, we always say there's two seasons: either winter and construction," says Maureen Martino, the executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. This water main upgrade is only the beginning; Martino says the city has plenty more scheduled for the area this year.

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like Flint, Mich., now.

Madison started using copper instead of lead water pipes in the late 1920s. The bulk of the lead lines were located in the older part of the city, which is downtown near Wisconsin's state Capitol.

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The once routine practice of getting a glass of water before a restaurant meal in Flint, Mich., is now fraught with apprehension, since lead pipes started leaching into the drinking water after officials switched to the highly corrosive Flint River as the city's water supply.

More than a year ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in a police shooting roiled the small town of Ferguson, Mo., and sparked nationwide protests. Recovery and negotiations have been going on since then, but residents have different ideas about how the city should move forward.

Next week, a negotiated settlement between the city and the Justice Department overhauling the department's practices will come up for a city council vote.

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In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been fending off increasing calls for his resignation. There's also an effort underway to develop a recall law that would allow voters to replace Emanuel before the next election.

"On the defensive" was not a phrase often associated with Emanuel, but that has changed since the city released a video of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

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After months of negotiations, the battle over locker room access for a transgender student in Illinois ended late last night when Township High School District 211 — about 30 miles northwest of Chicago — approved a deal with the Department of Education.

For nearly three hours, the board met in a closed session — ultimately voting yes on the agreement which allows the transgender student to use private areas within the locker room.

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For high school students looking to choose a college, grade-point averages and test scores may weigh heavily on their minds. But campus atmosphere may not be far behind given recent demonstrations on college campuses across the country.

Students at the University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia were the forefront of a wave of protests over racist incidents and the reaction of school officials. For some high school students, those protests make racial relations factor highly in their college search.

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Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have become an everyday part of life for many young people — and increasingly, the way some, including rival gang members, threaten each other.

The practice is called "cyber banging," and it's often led to fights and even death.

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Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

How can you tell if a city has come back from a tragedy as devastating as Hurricane Katrina?

Ten years after the levees failed in New Orleans, and the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, whipped up by Hurricane Katrina, flooded most of the city, New Orleans residents say there's been much progress since then.

A new NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that a majority surveyed — 54 percent — says New Orleans has mostly recovered, measured by returning population, new housing, jobs, infrastructure and quality of life.

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