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Caucus Lays Out 'Black Agenda' For Veto Session

Illinois Legislative Black Caucus
State Rep. Carol Ammons

Members of the Illinois General Assembly’s Black Caucus Tuesday released a four-pronged agenda that they say will dominate this fall’s legislative session. 

The group of lawmakers wants several areas addressed: criminal justice reform, which includes violence prevention and  police accountability; education and workforce development; economic opportunity and equal access; and health care and human services.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat,  said the time to address racism at the federal level, and in Illinois, with legislation is now.

“This moment in time is presenting us with an unlimited opportunity to add long last address systemic racism and oppression that has plagued our communities for generations,” she said.

Senate President Don Harmon issued a statement following the event. He said he wants to be an ally and help get reforms enacted. Meanwhile, House Speaker Madigan said in a statement: “We are at a turning point, and it’s time to take action."

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, says the caucus has sought action unsuccessfully in areas that would improve Black lives.

”We are now at a moment where our white colleagues that have been raised in white communities that just didn't understand what we were talking about are now uncomfortable. They are so uncomfortable now that they are hearing all of the ask that we had before that they couldn't hear before,” Ford said.

State Rep. Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said, “The Black agenda cannot wait. We have waited for far too long. It is long overdue. And we're calling all debts.” 

State Sen. Carol  Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, ticked off a list of some of the problems sees that need to be addressed.

“We recognize that this kind of discontent, anger over police violence, police murders, public lynchings, mass incarceration, excessive sentencing are all the vestiges of deep segregation and poverty,”  she said. “We are here today to give voice to the collective grievances of the Black community." 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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