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ISU Alum Attended In The Name Of Her Grandmother

Loralean Jordan, a 1991 ISU grad, went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy and now works as a Minnesota-based human resource professional.

Loralean Jordan graduated from Illinois State University in 1991. She was inspired to go there by her grandmother — and how the university mistreated her.

Loralean V. Hill, a Black woman, attended Illinois State Normal University in the 1920s. Normal was a "sundown town" at the time, meaning that any Black person needed to be out of the area before the sun went down. During her four years of study, Hill rode a bicycle back and forth from Bloomington to Normal to get from her apartment to her classes.

Loralean V. Hill

Hill was attending ISNU in hopes of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education. After eight semesters and meeting the requirements, the university would only grant Hill a teaching certificate.

“I was determined that somebody from my family should graduate from there, and I thought it should be me,” said Jordan when describing how her grandmother inspired her.

Jordan said there were no specific moments in which she felt discriminated against, but the need for activism was there.

“My first roommate did not work out. I was a Black girl from Springfield and she was a white girl from the Quad Cities who had never really seen a Black person. I do not remember interacting with her at all. After the first semester she moved to a different dorm,” said Jordan.

Jordan said she was a member of the Black Student Union and witnessed the activist Louis Farrakhan speak at Illinois State University.

Jordan graduated from ISU with a degree in political science, and went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy. Ironically, her father was attending Illinois State University at the same time to obtain his doctorate.

Years after graduation, Illinois State University contacted Jordan in hopes of awarding a posthumous degree to Loralean V. Hill.

Jordan turned it down, saying “as long as she is listed as an alumni, I am OK with that.”

Jordan was asked about the dialogue between universities and the families of students who felt discriminated against in the past. Jordan said she believes it is the university's responsibility to right those wrongs.

“I think the universities are responsible for making that dialogue happen. It is all a part of history. We cannot rewrite our history, we can only tell the truth.”

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Jack Graue is a student reporter at WGLT. He joined WGLT in summer 2021. He is also a student in the School of Communication at Illinois State University.
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