Diversity | WGLT

Diversity

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
WGLT

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.

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 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.

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.

People marching with signs
Tiffani Jackson / WGLT

After weeks of protesting for justice for black lives lost at the hands of police, commemorating the day that ended slavery meant a little more this year than others for some.

Grid of commissioners
YouTube

The Normal Human Relations Commission met this week to deliberate on how to make positive changes within the community.

William speaks to a man
Ryan Denham / WGLT

With churches partially closed, social distancing still the norm, and racism becoming bolder by the day, maintaining a sound mind during a season of pain can be difficult for some.

Crowds holding signs
Tiffani Jackson / WGLT

More than 200 protesters gathered Monday night at Clearwater Park in east Bloomington and marched through nearby neighborhoods to speak out against racism.

Woman holds her cell phone wearing tee-shirt saying More Love, Love More
Tricia Braid

Heyworth business owner Tricia Braid said she was tired of scrolling through social media feeds and seeing many people doubting the media reports about the military use of tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors to clear Lafayette Plaza for the president to have a photo taken with the Bible.

Georgia Nugent speaking at podium
Illinois Wesleyan University

Some students and alumni at Illinois Wesleyan say the university's delayed and muted response to George Floyd's death and calls for racial justice are the latest examples of what they have seen for years.

Jeremy Butler
Courtesy

Whether you work in an office, drive a forklift or teach kindergarten, the more confident you are in your training, the better you’ll perform. Confidence can make it more likely you’ll try harder or conquer adversity. A lack of confidence can make you skittish and impair decision-making.

It’s the same with police officers.

Justin speaks
Darnysha Mitchell / WGLT

A peaceful demonstration led in part by high school students was interrupted Wednesday when an agitator deployed what authorities called a harmless “smoke device,” in at least the second attempt to intimidate protestors in the past four days.

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