Diversity | WGLT


Sharon Chung
Staff / WGLT

As the number of COVID-related deaths increased, Asian Americans have felt negative attitudes increasing toward them as well.

Whether and how the Bloomington City Council tackles some of the thorniest social justice issues in the community may hinge on the outcome of the April 6 election.

UPDATED 12:30 p.m. | District 87 school board candidate Jon Reed has formally withdrawn from the race, election officials said Tuesday.

Staff / WGLT / WGLT

Downtown Bloomington is home to over 50 female-owned businesses. One reason for that cluster is the relationships those women have built over the years, allowing them to bounce ideas off each other and making the tall task of entrepreneurship a little easier.

The Bistro owner Jan Lancaster said her goal was to always own a business. She was never interested in corporate life.

Posters and bulletin boards for Black History Month

Teachers have encountered many challenges during the past 12 months, and the craft has been evolving because of the pandemic. Now it is Black History Month, and for many teachers Black history is more than just a one-month exercise.

Exterior of State FArm HQ
Staff / WGLT

In Part 2 of their interview, State Farm senior vice president Annette Martinez talks to WGLT's Ryan Denham about the company's recent moves on diversity and inclusion. That includes the appointment of State Farm's first chief diversity officer over the summer.


A longtime public servant who fought against intolerance in Bloomington-Normal has died.

As calls for representation among the marginalized echo in schools, the Illinois Board of Higher Education has announced the newest student group, Diversifying Higher Education Faculty, for local universities with the goal to increase faculty of color.

Bloomington City Hall
Eric Stock / WGLT

Bloomington wants to improve diversity among city staff to better reflect the city's population.

(left to right, clockwise) Darron Cummings, Lawrence Jackson, Jae C. Hong, Chris Pizzello (Invision) / AP

The Black community has suffered many losses in the past year.

With the deaths of role models like Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman, historical figures like Elijah Cummings and John Lewis, in addition to those at the hands of police, the effects from such events on mental health have come into focus.

Bill Brady
Seth Perlman / AP

One of the state’s top Republicans said Friday that President Donald Trump “mishandled” his response to a question at this week’s debate about white supremacists.

Hillary Clinton
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

A McLean County Museum of History event series focused on “who has the power” will next turn its focus to women in politics, on the eve of another presidential election that will be won by a man.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Watterson Towers residence hall at ISU

Illinois State University said Thursday it will rename floors in the Watterson Towers residence hall in the wake of nationwide upheaval and a renewed dialogue on race and history.

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.

Speaker at Bandstand
Tiffani Jackson / WGLT

The Black Lives Matter BloNo group held a public meeting Sunday that shared compassion and addressed some of the response to its list of policy demands.

Brandon Thornton
Lyndsie Schlink

Brandon Thornton is a teacher at Bloomington High School and is a graduate student (B.S. '11, M.S. '16, Ed.D '22) at Illinois State University.

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.

Janine Peacher is a professor at Lincoln College. This year, she became the first tenured Black professor at the college.

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