After Four Months in Detention, 8 Year-Old Girl Reunited With Family in C-U

This eight-year-old girl (on the right in the photo) traveled 4,000 miles and spent four months in detention to get a hug from her mother. They were reunited last week at Willard Airport in Champaign. The news reports about children being separated from their families at the border are not such far-off stories. Some have Champaign-Urbana as the destination of their long trek north.

This past June, the girl left her home in Guatemala, accompanied by her aunt and cousin. They were detained when they came across the US-Mexico border. The other two were released, but because she was not with a parent, the eight-year-old was held. She was first put into a detention center, where she stayed for three months. With the help of RAICES (Refugee And Immigrant Center For Education and Legal Services), a nonprofit in Texas that has freed thousands in similar situations, she was placed in foster care with a family that had opened up their home. When she moved on, the little girl carried a slip of paper with the names of other girls at the house she left behind. Continue reading

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Reflecting on the Prison Labor Strike: Driving Toward the “Dismantling Process”

This year’s Prison Labor Strike was one of the most amazing mobilizations of liberatory politics in the past decade. It was the latest iteration in the most recent generation of prison rebellions, which has included labor strikes in Georgia prisons in 2010, the three Pelican Bay hunger strikes in California 2011-2013, and the direct predecessor of the latest action: the strike against prison slavery in 2016.

The authoritarian nature of prison bureaucracies prevents us from compiling a precise chronicle of what takes place behind the walls. However, according to the lead organization in the strike, the network of prisoners known as Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, actions occurred in 16 states and federal prisons. In addition, over 200 people went on strike in the Northwest Immigration Detention Center. 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

The new exhibit at the Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet, 1968: A Time for Every Purpose, respects the mandate of the museum to preserve artifacts that will help later generations understand the daily life of earlier residents of Champaign County—but the founder probably didn’t anticipate displaying a poster for one of John Cage’s infamous musical “happenings” in its 50th anniversary exhibit. Through these and other unexpected items, the exhibit on the cultural and political watersheds of 1968 succeeds in conveying the many ways in which the people of Champaign County both lived through and shaped the transformations of that time. Continue reading

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We Need a Medicare for All Health Care System

Nurses march for single-payer health care

The parasitic presence of private insurers in our health care system is one of the things that drives up overall medical costs in the United States, costs that are higher than in any other industrialized county, and with poorer results. Despite this fact, President Trump falsely tells the American public that a Medicare for All system would cost more than our present profit-driven system.

I will take France, where I have spent a number of years, as an example. But other Western European countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, are similar. In France, health care is regarded as a right accorded to all citizens and legal residents. Insurance is provided by tax-funded, nonprofit bodies called mutuelles. In 2016, the per capita expenditure on healthcare in France was $4,600. In the United States, it was $10,348. Continue reading

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What to Watch for Dinner Tonight: Trump Through the Looking Glass

The O’Jays with Trump

Who does Trump see when he looks in the mirror? Like many of us over the proverbial hill, he likely does not acknowledge his elderly self; he sees his younger self, glamorized through the pronounced image he cultivated over decades He sees a potent man who has a younger wife and adoring fans. Even his unchanging hairdo must help reinforce his delusion.

How do we come to our view of Donald J. Trump? In this Hall of Funhouse Mirrors presidency, his distorted image has elasticity. To some who love him he is a straight-talking macho hero who satisfies a revenge fantasy against an overly sensitive multicultural society. For others he is a variegated nightmare. Is he plotting and diabolical? Stupid and incompetent? Belligerent and immature? Narcissism personified? A wily mogul? A stable genius? All or none of the above? 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 feminism. Most of my artwork is related to social justice. My art is mostly graphite on paper, but I also paintsometimes with watercolors or oil. A lot of my artwork revolves around the Black Lives Matter movement. I have drawn a lot of portraits of Black people who were killed by police. I also created a series specifically about Black women, the #SayHerName series. I have written illustrated short comic strips on street harassment and micro-aggressions called Unbothered and Unimpressed: the Side Eyes Series. Continue reading

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Open Scene Open Mic w/ DJ Silkee

Open Scene Open Mic w/ Host DJ Silkee
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 6-8pm at IMC

Join the Urbana Public Arts Program and Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center for the next installment of Open Scene Open Mic, a downtown showcase of poetry, spoken word, music, and artistic expression designed to promote community, creativity, and connection! Bring your latest!

Ja’Naea Modest/DJ Silkee has been deejaying for four years in the Central Illinois area. She has been able to open up for local artists as well as some well-known artists (Mystikal, Young Dolph, Tink, Tweet, D Low, DJ Self), does private parties and residencies at clubs and bars in the Champaign area. Silkee has always had a love for music and the fascination of deejaying. Her mother introduced her to music at a young age. Due to her mother being ill a good portion of her life, she decided to put that passion on the back burner to take care of her until recently. She also promotes and organizes different events in the community, and is an instructor for C-U Girls Rock.

Open Scene Open Mic is a multigenerational event! Bring the whole family for activities and a chance to showcase talents!

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Move to Amend announcement

Democratic Revolution vs. Corporate Rule: It’s Up to Us!

Monday, September 24th, 7-9PM
309 W Green St, Urbana – Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign

Free & open to the public. Free childcare is available, please email us the ages of the children.

 Join Move to Amend’s National Outreach Director Greg Coleridge for an inspiring call-to-action and discussion on the nationwide movement to pass a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end corporate personhood.

➔ Local Leaders will join Greg and relate Local Issues to this Movement!
➔ Find out about specific actions we can take in Illinois!
➔ Learn the history of how the Supreme Court got us here and what it will take to abolish corporate personhood and get big money out of politics!
➔ Join us to learn how to work with those we elect in November to grow a democratic revolution to prevent corporate rule!
➔ Get personally inspired and motivated to join the movement!

Sponsored by:
The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, contacts: Doug Jones 217-377-6787 djones42@gmail or Nancy Dietrich 217-337-0334 nancydietrich01@gmail.com and Move to Amend For more information contact Milly Harmon at barnstorming@movetoamend.org 916-318-8040 MoveToAmend.org

Flyer:  CU_Move_to_Amend_single_quarter_page_R3_flyer_9_24_18

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Trustee Trip

Drawing of Illinois Indians, ca. 1735

This past spring, two U of I Trustees set out on a secret mission to solve the seemingly endless Chief Illiniwek problem once and for all. And they did it. But I doubt they’re happy with the result.

They hoped to return with Chief Illiniwek on a pedestal. Instead, they came back with his head on a stick. Continue reading

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An Exciting Change in Children’s Literature Book Awards!

Back in February of 2018, I was astonished and excited when I learned that the American Library Association’s Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) was taking a look at the names of its book awards, asking if the award names are in line with the association’s core values. They were going to start with the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

In truth, I was also skeptical. The book series that Wilder wrote—and in particular The Little House on the Prairie—are at the heart of how people think about the US and its history. Changing the name of that award struck me as impossible, especially in light of activist work I have done. I had spent over twenty years trying to get the University of Illinois to change its sports teams’ nickname and get rid of its mascot, so I knew from experience how tenaciously people hold on to things for which they have deep emotional attachments. I’d hazard a guess that there are just as many people in the Midwest playing Indian as there are people who play (in musicals, pageants, and plays) that they are Laura and her family! Continue reading

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