Civil Rights | WGLT

Civil Rights

Karyn and Chemberly
Staff / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos said he plans to arrange a meeting with Black Lives Matter BloNo leadership so they can lay out any specific concerns with the Normal Police Department.

Bloomington Police Department entrance
Amy Niebur / WGLT

On a Thursday afternoon four years ago, the police watched as Donnelly Jackson left his mother’s house on Riley Drive in Bloomington after a short visit.

Bloomington native Dashea Crockett is a leader at Illinois State University's Impact Ministry, a Grayslake North High School graduate, and community activist with the Next Gen Initiative group. John Findley, Dashea's grandfather, has called Bloomington home after living on a farm with his family in Tupelo, Mississippi, and coming north during the Great Migration. 

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

Jayana Fennell and father Louis Fennell Jr.
Jon Norton / WGLT

Bloomington native Jayana Fennell is a Normal Community West High School graduate. She’s currently a junior telecommunications major for video production at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She’s also minoring in French. She spoke with Jon Norton for WGLT's series Living Black in Bloomington-NormalContact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Chadman James, a.k.a. "Grill Billyenz"
Jon Norton / WGLT

Chadman James, a.k.a. Grill Billyenz (or Billy Yenz) is a 30-year-old budding hip-hop star and self-described all-around creative. The Normal native spoke with Jon Norton for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-Normal. Contact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Christopher Belt with son Louis
Jon Norton / WGLT

Christopher Belt is an English teacher at Normal Community High School. The Normal native spoke with Jon Norton for the WGLT series Living Black in Bloomington-NormalContact us if you'd like to be featured in the series.

Looters exit Target
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Recent looting in Bloomington-Normal and in many states since the death of George Floyd may have something in common with race riots of the 1960s.

Donovan G. Muldrow

“You probably don’t know this, but a broken tail light is a black man’s biggest fear.”

Around the table, people were silent as Otis Evans Jr. described what it’s like to be a black man in America. 

Holding up signs
Breanna Grow

For Ky Ajayi, it hasn’t just been a long week. It’s been a long three years.

Tari speaks
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he was pushed to the ground and a man tried to hit him with his fist near Kohl’s about 10:30 p.m. Monday. Renner said he had tried to engage a group of people in dialogue.

Looters carry electronics
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Bloomington-Normal's bus service will halt service early the next two days. Connect Transit said public and employee safety drove the decision to suspend service at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Sheriff leans into conversation with demonstrators.
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

After a demonstration and injury of a marcher, dozens of demonstrators gathered Sunday night outside the McLean County sheriff's department on the west side of the Law and Justice Center in downtown Bloomington.

Linda Foster
Merlin Mather / Courtesy

The Bloomington-Normal branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is speaking out against two recent high-profile killings of African Americans and calling for dialogue during a virtual town hall meeting next week.

Miss_Millions / Creative Commons

Sex offenders who have completed their sentences but are still being held in Illinois prisons should be released as part of the effort to reduce the state’s prison population during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

Here is a profile of a man who drove vice presidents and governors, wealthy landowners, visiting artists, and the prominent of Bloomington-Normal all about town more than a century ago.

During Black History Month, this episode of McHistory shows you the working life of Absalom Hawkins, a well-known African American man in the Twin Cities. It also tells you about a 19th century brain drain of African Americans.

Those who became educated had to leave the area to get jobs outside the working class. 

Doris Houston
Ryan Denham / WGLT

The president of Illinois State University has created a new high-level position to coordinate diversity and inclusion efforts. President Larry Dietz said Professor Doris Houston is the new interim assistant to the president in that area.

The early 1900s saw an influx of racism and discrimination in the Midwest, from anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, and anti-African American sentiment, to race riots in Springfield, Chicago, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Ku Klux Klan became a force in central Illinois. Segregation grew in Bloomington-Normal and what had been a thriving black middle class was gradually destroyed.

Edith Brady-Lunny / WGLT

The number of people in the U.S. now required to register as sex offenders is edging close to the one million mark.

1937 NFL championship at Wrigley Field
AP file photo

A sports historian said a Normal native's nomination to the Pro Football Hall of Fame nearly a century after he helped break the NFL's color barrier shows the league hasn't fully reckoned with the racism that's plagued it for generations.

City of Bloomington

The Bloomington and Normal Human Relations Commissions have announced their Martin Luther King Jr. award winners for the year. The commission chooses people who reflect the ideology of the late Dr. King.

Stand Up For Social Justice
Facebook / Stand Up For Social Justice

A progressive group that's been staging vigils in Bloomington every month for the last three years plans to continue its demonstrations because organizers feel their efforts are making a difference.

man smiles at camera
Grant Halverson

America has a long history of torture. From enhanced interrogation during the Iraq War all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials, torture has featured prominently in the story of the country.

The question of why it happened is a question of power and fear.

Housing Action Illinois

Editor's note: This is part of a five-story series reported at the Housing Action Illinois conference in Bloomington on Oct. 24-25. The stories ran Wednesday, Oct. 30, on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

Merlin Kennedy
Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home

One of Bloomington-Normal most notable civil rights leaders, Merlin Kennedy, has died.

Miltonette Craig speaks
Mary Cullen / WGLT

The Town of Normal is in the middle of its first annual Daring Diversity: A Racial Equity Summit. Day 1 of the conference included speakers who defined and traced the roots of racism.

Racial equity conference
Eric Stock / WGLT

Community planners used U.S. Census data to shed light on racial and ethnic disparities in McLean County during the Town of Normal's Daring Diversity racial equity conference.

Staff

An Illinois free speech advocate spoke in Normal on Wednesday and compared President Donald Trump's characterization of journalists as "scum" and "dirt" to tactics used by tyrannical dictators of the past. 

McLean County Museum of History

Last year, “Green Book” hit the big screen and shocked the world with an accurate depiction of what life was like for African Americans in the U.S. before the Civil Rights Act.

Laura and her son with a sign
Joe Deacon / WGLT

Laura Tepen of Bloomington has seen first-hand the conditions facing refugees along the southern U.S. border. In February, her family of five volunteered at a respite center in McAllen, Texas, where they helped feed and give clothes to people released from detention centers.

McHistory: Civil Rights Before The Movement

Jun 11, 2019
Dr. Eugene Covington
McLean County Museum of History

Dr. Eugene Covington was the first and only African American physician in McLean County in the early 20th century.

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