Tribune photo by Keri Wiginton
Smith, 35, of the Dunning neighborhood, is executive director of the Northwest Neighborhood Federation.
Smith, who is Colombian, said her family tried to fit in when they moved into the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood in 1989 and became the first Latinos on a block full of Polish immigrants.
"We spoke the language, Mom was hard-working and we were not coming to turn the neighborhood around and make it all Latino."
Only one white family remains on the block where her mother still lives.
"Sometimes you wonder what you did to make people leave a neighborhood when you move in," Smith said, "but it's not necessarily about racism. People in Chicago have their own little neighborhoods they are accustomed to. Everybody has their own little place they feel comfortable in. It's changing as people become more accepting, but there are still those special cases in Chicago."