Black Lives Matter | WGLT

Black Lives Matter

Woman celebrates
Alex Brandon / AP

After weeks of mounting tension during the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, observers in Bloomington-Normal expressed mixed emotions Tuesday after the guilty verdicts from a Minneapolis jury that heard testimony in the killing of George Floyd.

Students holding signs at protest
Jim Mone / AP

Black leaders in Bloomington-Normal hope justice will be served in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, with the head of the NAACP issuing a call against violence after the verdict is announced, while a leader with Black Lives Matter said focusing on looting misses the point.

Person holding sign at protest
Jim Mone / AP

Communities of color battle with a loss of hope as they seek justice for the death of George Floyd, another Black man who died at the hands of a white police officer.

Illinois State University

With the viral videos, images, and murals that capture defining moments of 2020, one Illinois State University professor is examining what these visuals reveal about contemporary culture.

Man posing next to Trump flag and woman raising Black Lives Matter Flag
Eric Stock / WGLT

A stroll through a west Bloomington neighborhood shows the deep political divide that grips much of the country as election day approaches. 

people holding candles
Emily Bollinger / WGLT

More than 160 candle flames flickered Saturday in Bloomington in memory of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

John Milhiser
U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois

It’s not uncommon for the adrenaline to rise when a driver sees flashing red lights in the rearview mirror.  but the recent recurring incidents of officer-involved deaths in the U.S. has put a spotlight on how police handle all encounters with the public.

Students march on the Quad
Darnysha Mitchell / WGLT

Testimonies, tears, and teamwork highlighted Friday's Illinois State University student-athlete-led march through the university’s Quad.

Luke Nelson competing in pole vault

A group of Illinois State University student-athletes has planned a march and rally Friday in response to ISU athletics director Larry Lyons' remark that “All Redbird Lives Matter” and the athletic department’s action plan for social change which followed.

Mya Robinson competing in track event

Illinois State University athletics director Larry Lyons said Tuesday he is working to better educate himself about the experiences of Black athletes as he looks to repair the damage his “All Redbird Lives Matter” remark has caused.

Willie Holton Halbert speaks
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Local police departments are feeling the heat from civil unrest in cities where police-involved deaths have sparked violent protests, according to McLean County law enforcement leaders.

Kimathhi Johnson runs
ISU Athletics

Illinois State University athletics officials published an action plan Monday in response to demands from student-athletes who have staged a boycott.

Woman holds BLM sign
Breanna Grow / WGLT

As hundreds of people streamed out of the Back the Blue rally at GE/Union Park Sunday afternoon, Bloomington resident Austin Willis addressed a group of a few dozen counter protesters stationed just outside the park gates.

In a virtual meeting on Tuesday night, the Normal Human Relations Commission heard a presentation from Prairie State Legal Services about fair housing issues.

Attorney Emily Petri outlined the protections guaranteed to renters and homebuyers under the federal Fair Housing Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act, and local ordinances.

Designed to protect people from unfair housing practices, the laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of characteristics like race, religion, sexual orientation, family status, and disability.

Brandon Bell grew up in Normal and now resides in St. Louis.

Bell spoke with Ariele Jones for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-Normal. Contact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Jen Brooks was born and raised in Bloomington. She worked at State Farm for a few years before becoming a language arts teacher. She taught at Peoria Manual High School beginning in January of this year and begins teaching at Bloomington Junior High School this fall.

Group poses at Black lIberation event
Tiffani Jackson / WGLT

Standing in solidarity and using fine arts as the form of expression, a downtown Black Liberation Celebration brought people of all demographics together Saturday to support the African American community in a plea for justice among injustices taking place nationwide.

Brianna Rivera-Thompson will receive her master's degree from ISU in December
Andres Rivera-Thompson

Brianna Rivera-Thompson was born in Galesburg and was raised in Normal. She attended Unit 5 schools and will receive her master’s degree in speech pathology from Illinois State University in December. She and husband Andres met at ISU and were married in December 2019.

Brandon Lusala's parents immigrated to the United States from what was then the Congo for work. His father worked for State Farm in Bloomington, his mother was a nurse. He attended Northpoint Elementary School, Kingsley Junior High and Normal Community High School.

Kevin Graham and his family
Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham was born in Springfield and moved to Bloomington at age 3. He says he grew up “on both sides of the tracks," first in the Sunnyside projects in west Bloomington, then in Lancaster Heights apartment complex in Normal. He attended Sugar Creek Elementary, various Catholic schools in Bloomington-Normal and Springfield, Chiddix Junior High for one year and graduated from U-High. 

Graham spoke with Jon Norton for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-NormalContact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Fist raised at event
David Goldman / AP

Not In Our Town (NIOT) hosted a virtual event on Monday evening designed to spur community conversations around race.

Christie Vellella is a Chicago native who came to Illinois State University in the 70s. She is a retired teacher and social worker in Bloomington-Normal.

Dominique Stevenson
Tiffani Jackson / WGLT

A call for change echoed through the streets of Normal on Wednesday night. For parents, students, and teachers, that change should begin in schools.

Lloyd Davis is a Bloomington-Normal software developer
Jon Norton / WGLT

Bloomington resident Lloyd Davis is originally from the south suburban city of Chicago Heights. The software developer spoke with Jon Norton for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-NormalContact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Kayla Bullock is a historian who was born in, and now lives again in Lincoln, Neb. Her family moved to Bloomington-Normal when she was in elementary school. She graduated from Parkside Junior High and University High School. She attended college in both South Africa and England.

Elisha Coffrin is an Eastern Illinois University graduate and owner of Coffrin's ATA Martial Arts in Bloomington-Normal along with her husband, Corey.

Calvin Jones on the bleachers at Miller Park in Bloomington, IL
Jon Norton / WGLT

Calvin Jones was born in Peoria, where he spent his very early childhood. He remembers acting as the protector of his best friend “Andy,” the only white kid in what he described as a poor mostly Black neighborhood. His family moved to Bloomington before he entered 5th grade, then to Normal shortly thereafter where he attended Fairview Elementary.

Lissette Hall grew up in both Chicago and Bloomington-Normal and is a graduate of Parkside Junior High, Normal West high school, and Heartland Community College. She studied at Columbia University, UIC, and ISU before becoming the first person to earn a bachelor's in comedy writing and performance with a minor in arts in healthcare at Columbia College Chicago.

Bloomington native and now Normal resident Dr. Cedric Williams is the founder and CEO of the Twin Cities based Legacy Consulting & Research Group. Williams is a psychologist who has served in the United States Army and Reserve Components for over 18 years, including time serving in Iraq.

Leon Jones
Willie Thomas

Leon Jones is a Bloomington High School graduate and a Bloomington native.

He spoke with Darnysha Mitchell for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-NormalContact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.