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Holly Ann Stovall I live in a place called Forgottonia. Others call it McDonough County, Illinois. Four hours southwest of Chicago, 3 hours due north of St. An hour from the mighty Mississippi River.
With 23 percent of the population living below the poverty line, we are one of the most impoverished counties in the state and no one seems to care outside of the 30, people who live here. We are a movement that challenges systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation.
We took our inspiration, as the 50th anniversary of Dr. William Barber of North Carolina and Rev. They picked up the campaign where King left off. We rally and risk arrest to pressure state legislators and the governor to attack poverty. Most of the activists in Springfield came from Chicago, but poverty and its intersecting factors plague rural towns, as well, so I, also, made the mile drive.
We began most Monday actions in Springfield with a march from the Service Employees International Union office to the Abraham Lincoln statue in front of the state house. Systemic poverty is immoral. After we gathered on the steps, those among us who are poor told their stories about hard times.
Trying to pay for health care and rent while working for minimum wage. Parenting children, keeping families together. Heaven forbid, they also want to drink clean water, breath clean air, and avoid gendered violence, gun violence, and police brutality.
After listening to these stories again and again, we marched to an intersection or entrance to government offices. Barber have encouraged campaigners to train in nonviolent civil disobedience.
In order to demonstrate our willingness to sacrifice for a better future for all, some 2, poor people, clergy, and allies from rural and urban areas in 40 states presented ourselves for arrest. On the mall in Washington, D.
Liz Theoharris asked how many of us had risked arrest, and I, like most of the thick crowd around me, raised my hand. In Illinois, moral witnesses supported those who blocked intersections and entrances with chants: In fact, most Mondays, Illinois authorities refused to arrest us.
For example, the first Monday in Springfield, Il, when activists blocked the intersection, capitol police trained to handle civil protest blocked the streets leading to the intersection, allowed the action to proceed for an hour, then ticketed protesters. But in states such as Minnesota, Indiana, South Carolina, and Kentucky, authorities arrested activists from the first Monday of the campaign.
Both down-state and in Chicago, however, Illinois is failing to realize its stated values. Inwhen Rauner became governor, he promptly forced Western Illinois University WIU and other state universities out of the state budget, and cut taxes.
The poverty rate, of McDonough County, already high, climbed to almost 24 percent. WIU cut jobs and now, at SinceWIU enrollment has dropped 40 percent from 13, to a projected 8, for Fall, When enrollment drops, both students and WIU employees leave the region.
This month, WIU fired 24 more faculty seven of them tenured! As professionals are laid off and forced out of the region and the state, we struggle to recruit enough volunteers to stock the local food pantry.
More than 40 percent of students in the school district qualify for free or reduced lunch. Local businesses falter or fail. Homelessness is worse than I have seen since I first moved to Macomb 30 years ago.
Health and social problems plague the area: More than 90 percent of the students in my classes were women. Most of them could not afford books. Many were so financially pressed that they often missed class to work.
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