Civil Rights | WGLT

Civil Rights


With law enforcement and civil rights groups at odds over qualified immunity protections in Illinois, the McLean County Board Justice Committee on Tuesday was set to consider a resolution to reinforce the police position.

picture of David Davis
McLean County Museum of History

Most people in Bloomington-Normal know David Davis as the campaign manager for Abe Lincoln. Most know him as the guy who had a big mansion built on the near east side of Bloomington. Most know him as a judge in the legal circuit where Lincoln rode before his rise to national prominence.

AP Photo/Jens Meyer

There's a twisted silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic: Some gay and bisexual men are able to donate blood for the first time. 

Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rules long forbid men who have sex with other men from donating blood. The policy dates back to the height of the the AIDS crisis, when HIV was not well understood and there was fear of a "contaminated" blood supply.


Don Knapp
Eric Stock / WGLT

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors said they feel blindsided by a massive criminal justice reform bill introduced by the Black Democratic Caucus in the Illinois House, with police saying they are shocked and surprised at the timing and sweeping scope of the measure.

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Harper Joyner is 6 1/2 years old. Her mom, Tameka Thompson, is co-chair of Bloomington-Normal ACT-SO, an NAACP youth enrichment program for high school students.

A Civil War regimental flag
Sharon MacDonald

Andrew Jackson Smith was born a slave in Kentucky in 1842, the probable son of a slave holder. He escaped to the Union Army, became the servant of an officer from central Illinois, and later a soldier who distinguished himself for bravery "even in the cannon’s mouth."

Pritzker, Lightfoot Condemn Breonna Taylor Decision

Sep 23, 2020
Protestors in Louisville
John Minchillo / AP

Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned a Jefferson County, Kentucky, grand jury’s decision to not charge Louisville officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor and called for protests of the decision to be peaceful.

Virtual meeting screenshot
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Members of the City of Bloomington’s Human Relations Commission want a do-over on last month’s police divestment discussion

Miltonette Craig
Illinois State University

The Jacob Blake shooting has sparked an outcry across the country. When Illinois State University professor Miltonette Craig heard the news, she felt a sense of hopelessness.

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.

Crowd at the rally
Catrina Petersen / WGLT

Security guarded the Back The Blue rally entrance Sunday as Black Lives Matter counter protesters hovered nearby.  Inside Park in Bloomington, hundreds of people gathered for what was billed as a simple “thank you” to local law enforcement.

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.

A statue of Columbus
Tim Shelley / WGLT/WCBU

Bloomington city staff will examine converting the Columbus Day holiday to one honoring indigenous people, with a majority of the city council indicating at least some support for researching the question during a Committee of the Whole session Monday night.

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.

John Minchillo / AP

As teachers prepare for the start of remote learning this fall, those who teach American history and civics are deciding how they'll talk to students about the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—and the social justice movement that developed over the summer.

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.

Joel Johnson is a Normal resident, New Orleans native, an object-oriented developer and owner of Silky Soul Entertainment. He's lived in Bloomington-Normal for decades, is a married father of two daughters and loves his family, faith, and exploring entrepreneurial ambitions.

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.

A statue of Columbus
Tim Shelley / WGLT/WCBU

A lot of statues in America have become problematic. People want to tear them down because they represent a part of history to be disavowed, or embody once heroic themes that now seem shameful.

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.