Category Archives: African Americans

Scapegoating and the 2020 Marketplace Mall Riots

I watched the legal machinery eat further into the life of a young man this past month. On June 14, I joined others at the sentencing hearing for Shamar Betts at the federal courthouse in Urbana. Betts is accused of … Continue reading

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Black Art Politicized: A Discussion with Leslie Smith

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Leslie Smith, a board member of the Urbana–Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) and the founder of Black Voices Theater Production. As someone who grew up in a household with a father who is … Continue reading

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“It’s Scary Having a Fifteen-Year-Old Son”: Community Voices on Gun Violence in C-U

In the midst of the global pandemic, Champaign-Urbana has its own local epidemic: gun violence. As of July 20, police had received 95 reports in 2020 of shooting incidents in Champaign alone. This is more than double the total for … Continue reading

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The Decline of African Languages at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois used to be one of the best universities for learning African languages. Emeritus professor of Linguistics Eyamba Bokamba would always say, “here in Illinois we offer African languages from A to Z, Arabic to Zulu.” Unfortunately, … Continue reading

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We Don’t Live in a Food Desert, We Live under Food Apartheid: Interview with Dawn Blackman

Dawn Mosley Blackman, a Chicago native, moved to Champaign in April, 1993. She is the current steward of the Randolph Street Community Garden and a pastor at the Church of the Brethren. As a military wife she lived in Europe … Continue reading

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Emma Scott Bridgewater: Lived Experience Marked by Race and Discrimination

I met Mrs. Erma Pauline Scott Bridgewater (1913-2013) in Spring, 2009, during my research visits to Bethel A.M.E. Church. She led a life of service, racial work, and local activism in Champaign, being, arguably, the most interviewed and celebrated local … Continue reading

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FirstSteps Community House

“Our community needs a transitional house … we’re gonna reach out and help people get employment, help them bond back with their families and be able to give back to the community.” — Casandis Hunt, peer mentor at FirstFollowers, talking … Continue reading

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Attacks on the Campus Left Then and Now: Fighting Student Activists on Illinois’ Campus in the 1930s

In the 1930s, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was home to a thriving anti-war and anti-imperialist community of different radical, socialist, and communist groups. The National Student League (NSL), later called the American Student Union (ASU), the Communist Youth … Continue reading

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On the Topic of Islamophobia and Nationalism

From the time we are little until we are fully grown, most of us are taught the basic saying “treat others the way you want to be treated.” It represents the action of being courteous and kind, to not disrespect … Continue reading

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Mayor Harold Washington: Champion of Race and Reform in Chicago

If you’ve read Robert Caro’s biographies of Lyndon Johnson, you know what it’s like to be kidnapped by a historian who’s also a great story teller. The reading lamp burns late. I’ve just finished a new book on Illinois history … Continue reading

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A Muslim on the Inside

“Praise the Gods, Martin Luther King is dead.” Monroe Haynes was an 18-year-old in Vietnam fighting a war he did not understand, with people he did not know, when he heard his commander proclaim this statement. Just barely an adult, … Continue reading

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1968 – Not Really So Long Ago or Far Away

“I want kids to see that it wasn’t just Martin Luther King making things happen in the 1960s, it was local folks here as well. Just as it is today.” Katie Snyder, Education Program Specialist, Museum of the Grand Prairie … Continue reading

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Artist Spotlight on Charlotte Prieu

Tell me a little about yourself and your past creative work. I am a French native and a PhD student in French Linguistics at the University of Illinois. I am very passionate about social justice, especially regarding anti-racism and intersectional … Continue reading

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Goodbye, Ms. Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s musical talents were legion. Incomparable singer that she was, it is hardly surprising that multiple critics have identified her as the greatest voice in popular music of the 20th century. Labeled the “Queen of Soul,” she was in … Continue reading

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History Matters: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Fight for Economic Justice

By Stephanie Fortado Dr. Stephanie Seawell Fortado is a Lecturer at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, providing workshops and extension programming for unions and the general public on the Champaign-Urbana campus and throughout Illinois. Before joining the University, … Continue reading

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History Matters: Remembering Two “Dangerous” Labor Union Women

By Stephanie Fortado Dr. Stephanie Seawell Fortado is a Lecturer at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, providing workshops and extension programming for unions and the general public on the Champaign-Urbana campus and throughout Illinois. Before joining the University, … Continue reading

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Is Chancellor Jones in the ‘Sunken Place’?

by Kurtis ‘Sunny’ Ture Kurtis ‘Sunny’ Ture is a music producer, organizer, and graduate student at UIUC. As a founding member of Black Students for Revolution and the Speak Truth Collective, Sunny seeks to raise political consciousness, celebrate Black culture, … Continue reading

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Parkland College Social Justice Club Response to Viral Video of Police Arrest

Below is a statement from the Social Justice Club at Parkland College. On Wednesday, September 20, they held a rally to demand accountability from the Parkland administration. On September 7, 2017, a Parkland College student, Oluwatobi Mordi, also known as … Continue reading

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“Not Here, Not in My Town”: Charlottesville Black Lives Matter on Why We Must All Resist Fascism

Communities in Charlottesville, Va., are reeling from a murderous Nazi and white supremacist march on their town—one that stole the life of anti-Nazi protester Heather Heyer and wounded many more. I spoke with Lisa Woolfork, a member of Charlottesville’s Black Lives Matter … Continue reading

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The Racial Justice Task Force and the slow trudge toward justice in Champaign County

The Champaign County Racial Justice Task Force (RJTF) will be issuing its final report this fall. Those who sought to create this task force, and those working within it, have faced an uphill struggle in trying to get the white … Continue reading

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