Category Archives: African Americans

The Case for Reparations: Champaign County

According to the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, Black people in America own 10 cents of wealth for every dollar a white person owns, have lower life expectancies and higher unemployment, will earn $1 million less during their lifetimes, are … Continue reading

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A Road Map for Repairing the Harm: The History of Racially Restrictive Covenants

Can you imagine, as a resident of Champaign County, being told you aren’t allowed to live in a neighborhood because you’re Black? By today’s standards, such blatant racism would be met with disgust and rejection—at least by the majority of … Continue reading

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What is the Radical Black Church?

How Do We Define the “Black” Church? In some sense, the Black Church can be readily defined by its music, style of preaching and sounds. Yet these are only surface definitions—it is so much more. The Black Church was born … Continue reading

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Genealogy Program Aims to Restore Absent African American Histories

“Visiting Ghana had a significant impact on me, both personally and professionally. It solidified my perspective on the importance of building bridges between African nations and the African diaspora. My visit home inspired me to integrate these newfound insights into … Continue reading

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Criminology Mixology

Criminalization, abolition, and prison reform have long been third-rail issues in America. The only benefit to this impasse of ideologies is the mountain of research that has been collected in the interim. Those of us in camp reality, camp humanity, … Continue reading

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There Is Only Old People Here. All the Children Are Gone

There’s no hope for a better tomorrow. There’s no vision or dream for a better reason. The paths are darkened by fear and evil forces that dwells in the darkness that roams the corners of the street. There is only … Continue reading

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FirstFollowers: Using Participatory Action Research to Make Change in Our Community

FirstFollowers has a tradition of doing participatory action research at Champaign-Urbana Days, the premier outdoor summer event aimed primarily at the Black community. Participatory Action Research (often called PAR) aims to gather data and information, not just for publication but … Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Shortened Print Version)

This article originally appeared at WILL/Illinois Public Media on July 5, 2023. Reprinted with permission. It has been edited for space and style. See the full version here. “I had a big goose egg on my forehead,” Tianna Morrow recalled, … Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Full Version)

This story is part of a partnership, focusing on police misconduct in Champaign County, between the Champaign-Urbana Civic Police Data Project of the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit public accountability journalism organization, and Illinois Public Media. This investigation was supported … Continue reading

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Code Blue: Suffering through DWB in Rantoul

This essay, submitted to the Rantoul Press in 2009, was never published. The author shares it now to give context to community concerns with policing in Rantoul in the wake of recent police shootings of young Black men. “You were … Continue reading

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Growing Up “Unlucky”: Putting a Human Face on Bureau of Labor Statistics

Numerous options for employment abound in our small metropolitan area nestled amid the farmland of eastern central Illinois. From warehouses to food establishments to car repair shops, job seekers have many a choice for offering their time and effort. Yet, … Continue reading

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Why I Called Herschel Walker Coonish: The Right of Black People to Call Out their Traitors

Editors’ Note: This article has been held until after the Georgia runoff election so there would be no suggestion of a political endorsement. Since Donald Trump’s incursion into US politics in 2015, deprecation and intimidation have become pervasive. Trump and … Continue reading

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How The Issue of Representation Impacts Central Illinois

The issue of unequal representation of cultures has plagued the nation since its birth, often resulting in the perversion of people’s natural rights. In central Illinois, it extends that perversion through aggressive discrimination. Although minorities have seen more representation on … Continue reading

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A Time of Monsters: The New Nadir and the Crisis of the Black Worker

We currently reside in what Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called “A Time of Monsters.” Exacerbated by the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, the Black working classes continue to struggle under what Black Studies scholar Sundiata Cha-Jua has dubbed “the New Nadir.” For … Continue reading

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Juneteenth Freedom Day

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with … Continue reading

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Reckless Law, Shameless Order: Behind the Scenes

  One afternoon in April of 2021 Faranak Miraftab called me to ask if I was interested in holding an art workshop with formerly incarcerated artists in continuation of the “IDENSCITY,” a conceptual art space that I had been developing … Continue reading

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Shamar Betts Case Moves to Federal Appeals Court

On April 8, the case of Urbana resident Shamar Betts moved to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Betts was arrested in June, 2020 in the midst of a national crackdown on protests against the murder … Continue reading

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“It’s a Money Grab”: Billions in COVID Relief Going to Fund Police and Prisons

If you’re from inner-city Birmingham, Alabama, there’s a “99-percent chance” you have a family member or friend who has been incarcerated, according to Veronica Johnson, deputy director for the Alabama Justice Initiative, which has been fighting against a proposal to … Continue reading

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Passing: Can One Ever “Pass”?

I recently watched one of the most beautiful and perhaps also one of the most significant movies I have seen in a long time. Passing, based on a 1929 novel by the Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larson (1891–1964), is a … Continue reading

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Local Community Protests Former Champaign Police Chief’s Teaching Appointment at Parkland College

Former Champaign Police Chief Robert T. Finney was hired in August, 2020 to teach Community Policing as well as Introduction to Criminal Justice at Parkland College. “Unbelievable” is what one African American community member thought on hearing the news; “Shocking,” … Continue reading

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