Civil Rights | WGLT

Civil Rights

Illinois State Capitol exterior
Justin Brocke / Flickr

The Illinois legislature has sent the governor legislation amending the state law that decides when doctors can object to caring for a patient based on moral principle.

Illinois State University

Think of this as Story Corps for Strangers. Illinois State University has what's called a Human Library. It exposes students to the experiences of people who have endured adversity and stereotypes and shown perseverance in the face of discrimination or social exclusion.

Illinois State University

In Illinois, as in other parts of the country, parts of the African American Community have been resistant to LGBTQ issues. This is in spite of the traditionally Democratic party makeup  of that community driven by Chicago and Metro-East populations. In fact, as the Associated Press reported at the time, one of the reasons the Illinois gay marriage bill vote was closer than it could have been and took longer to pass was resistance by the Chicago Black legislative caucus.

New Route Theater

New Route Theater is presenting a festival of LGBTQ plays Friday and this weekend. Theater Director Don Shandrow and program Curator Duane Boutte join Charlie Schlenker to talk about Voices of Pride.

Nia Gilbert

A sizeable percentage of students at University High School in Normal recently dressed all in black for a day to mark the Black Lives Matter movement. There was some contention as other students dressed all in white as part of an All Lives Matter response. GLT's Charlie Schlenker talks with two organizers of the Black Lives Matter effort, Juniors Seba Nassar and Nia Gilbert about why they thought it was a necessary thing to do at U-High.

Unit 5 Addresses Concerns of Transgender Students

Mar 7, 2016
Ralph Weisheit

High school can be a tough time for most teens. It is often even more traumatic for students struggling with their sexual or gender identity.

The rights of transgender individuals are fast becoming a new legal frontier. The Unit 5 School District, which includes Normal Community High School and Normal West High School, recently amended its policies to permit transgender students to use the restroom and locker room of their choice. 

Bill Kemp

A Civil War veteran with a central Illinois connection is on The Legacy Wall, on display at ISU's Milner Library through February 27. Albert D.J. Cashier was born Jennie Hodgers in Ireland. While a lot is known about his life, it's still not as much as others of the era because Cashier was illiterate.

New Route Theater

The mission of New Route Theater, is to produce professional quality productions using artists who represent the community in all of its diversity. The company's new offering is a festival of three works "Black Voices Matter."

Black legislators say Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn’t done enough in the wake of the release of police shootings of LaQuan McDonald and other African Americans.

When asked by reporters, Gov. Rauner said he cried after watching the 2014 video of black Chicago teenager LaQuan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a city cop.

Van Dyke Pleads Not Guilty

Dec 29, 2015

The defense attorney for the white Chicago officer charged with murder in the death of a black teenager says ``more education'' for officers is a good thing. Defense attorney Dan Herbert said that Officer Jason Van Dyke, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday, is ``hanging in there'' and wants to tell his side of the story so that he's not seen ``as this cold-blooded killer.'' Herbert also said that they haven't ruled out asking for a change of venue.  

The 40th annual Martin Luther King Junior Awards in Bloomington Normal will feature 13 nominees. Four winners will be announced January 16th at ISU's Bone Student Center. Two adults and two high school students will be recognized for promoting tolerance and understanding.

In the running are students: Marcus Brooks, Rahul Vudaru, Veena Yeleswarapu, Rachek Beck, Keerthi Amballa, Amanda Breeden, Amari Funderburg, and Helen Steinbacher-Kemp.

Adult contenders for the honor include: Mary Aplington, Arlene Hosea, Marcos Mendez, Jesse Padilla, and Arthur Haynes.

David Bentlin

The Prairie Pride Coalition is working with the results of a Multi-Cultural Leadership Program survey to address the needs and priorities of  lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people in McLean County.  The survey was completed about a year ago and since then the PPC, using the results of the survey, has been working to develop programming and increase communication with the LGBT community.


Police have asked the F-B-I to investigate a Nazi flyer mailed to an African-American homeowner this week. It happened in Leland Grove, a small, wealthy suburb of Springfield. Dan Ryan is the police chief.

WGLT Staff

Members of the Muslim community in Bloomington Normal say they greatly appreciate the Not In Our Town interfaith solidarity event outside the old McLean County Courthouse in downtown Bloomington. Mohammed Zaman is one such member.

Zaman says he has not seen a Bloomington Normal anti Muslim backlash to the Paris or San Bernardino shootings, though there is some concern about the level of anti muslim rhetoric in the public arena. He says Muslims in the twin cities recognize that kind of speech is an attempt to use fear to capitalize on a political situation.

The Not In Our Town Movement in Mclean County says enough with the anti-Muslim rhetoric already. Not In Our Town is sponsoring an interfaith community solidarity event. Reverend Kelley Becker of First Christian Church in Bloomington says God loves and accepts everyone of all faiths.

Becker says it is troubling to her that people are using fear to further political campaigns.

She says stereotyping of groups such as Muslims is not acceptable.

A northern Illinois school district is banning "team prayers" at high school sporting events after a Wisconsin-based organization complained about the practice. Naperville Community Unit School District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges says he will enact a ban on coach-led prayer at all Naperville Central High School and Naperville North High School student athletic events.

Black Santa Flies In ... 49 Years Later

Dec 9, 2015
Judith Valente

It took 49 years, but Normal's holiday festivities this December will include the town's first official African American Santas. In 1966, NAACP activist Merlin Kennedy tried to ride a float in Bloomington's Christmas parade dressed as Santa. He was threatened with arrest. At age 89, Kennedy is getting a chance to rewrite that story's ending.

Chicago Pastors Say Rahm Betrayed Them

Dec 4, 2015

A group of South Side pastors say they feel betrayed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his handling of a video showing a white police officer killing a black teenager. IPR’s Michael Puente reports. 

Ted Eytan / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Education says a deal approved by a suburban Chicago school district allows a transgender student to use a girls' locker room and does not require her to use a privacy curtain, although the student has said she will do so. The federal agency's view of the agreement appears to conflict with a statement released Wednesday by Township High School District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates after a school board vote.

An education activist visiting Illinois State University says children receiving a poor education are having their civil rights violated.  Dr. Pedro Noguera is a distinguished professor of Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  He is also a sociologist whose research is focused on how schools are influenced by social and economic factors.  GLT's Jon Norton talked with Noguera via Skype to talk about his research, and how his morality factors into his lifelong passion of ensuring equal access to education for all children.  Norton started by quoting a sentence from his recent book "Excellence Through Equity."

Heather Wilson

Reverend Osagyefo Sekou has been front and center in the ongoing protests in Ferguson since the shooting of Michael Brown and thinks the incident was the tipping point in the tense relationship between police and minorities.  Sekou gives the annual Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture at Illinois State University Thursday night.