“Justice for Breonna Taylor” inspires events throughout Iowa, Illinois

Events are coming together quickly throughout Iowa and Illinois to honor the late Breonna Taylor, the Louisville victim of a police raid shooting earlier this year. Racial justice events are happening tonight in Decatur and Elgin, Ill; tomorrow (Saturday) in Belleville, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa; and next week in West Branch, Davenport and Cedar Rapids in Iowa. The events are organized by many of the social justice groups that have become more familiar since June, Advocates for Social Justice in Cedar Rapids and We FIGHT in Davenport. Online events about racial justice are growing almost daily, and you’ll find several highlighted in the…

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Iowa emerges as national leader in Black Voter Day Sept. 18

The first-ever National Black Voter Day of Action takes place Friday, and Iowa is emerging as a national leader in the movement, which is focused on empowering Blacks to overcome voting barriers they are documented to have experienced throughout history. At least nine Black Voter Day events are happening Friday throughout Iowa. That’s as much or more than larger states such as California, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia, based on a thorough search of events listed online and in public media. Black Voter Day events are happening in Cedar Rapids,…

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Racial justice events throughout Illinois, Iowa planned in solidarity with Jacob Blake

At least 19 communities throughout Iowa and Illinois are stepping forth with protests, vigils, rallies or marches in solidarity with Jacob Blake, the Kenosha, Wis., man paralyzed by at least seven police bullets to his back. The gatherings are from Des Moines to Chicago, along the Wisconsin/Illinois line, the Iowa/Illinois line, and the Missouri/Illinois line. Communities hosting events range from larger cities like Chicago and St. Louis, to tiny West Branch, Ia., and Effingham, Ill. Most of the rallies, protests and vigils are hosted by racial justice groups that formed…

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Davenport attorney leads second protest against police brutality Saturday

QUAD CITIES — Eric Puryear is not your typical Black Lives Matter activist. He’s a gun rights enthusiast. He’s a libertarian. He disagrees vehemently with socialism. Yet he’s also a pioneer of standing up against inappropriate policing in the Quad Cities and the Chicago area. He’s one of the most active attorneys in the Iowa-Illinois area representing victims of police brutality or helping to share about their cases in writings. Puryear, founder of Puryear Law, is also leading a series of rallies against police brutality in the Quad Cities. The…

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For non-Black people: how to stop perpetuating whiteness and its damage

Well-meaning, humbled, “ready to serve” white people. They are so newly visible since the May 26 murder of George Floyd, says Goddess Carroll, a specialist in massage and energy healing. And that visibility is imperative, says Carroll. But for Black people like Carroll, well-meaning whites asking “how can I help?” can be exhausting, trigger trauma repeatedly, and perpetuate a generations-old cycle of expecting Black people to do the hard labor. For illustration, Carroll offers the analogy of an abused child. “Say, you were abused from age 1 to age 18,…

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Next stop, Washington: Kesho Scott brings anti-racism memorials to small Iowa towns

WASHINGTON — Dr. Kesho Scott started bringing George Floyd memorials to her central Iowa hometown of Grinnell, with a small service that ended up attracting about 150 of the town’s 10,000 residents. A woman from Belle Plaine, a town of 2,500 just west of Cedar Rapids, attended the Grinnell event and asked Scott to come to her town, too. Mingo, a town of 300 near Newton, asked next and ended up drawing about 50 people to a gathering in a resident’s backyard. Then Marengo, about a half-hour south of Belle…

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Iowa, Illinois show poorly for women, people of color

Living in Iowa or Illinois can be an economic challenge if you’re a person of color or a woman, recent studies show. Zippia declared Iowa the “second-worst state to be black,” with Illinois coming in at the 11th-worst spot. In addition, 24/7 Wall St. has five Illinois cities in its list of the 15 worst cities to live if you’re black. And Iowa’s Waterloo/Cedar Falls is considered the country’s third-worst place to live if you’re black, after topping the list for several years. In addition, Iowa is among the states…

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‘Coming out’ again: The Real MainStream brighter, better, and reinvented

Read about how The Real MainStream is reworking itself to better serve Iowa and Illinois. Whenever I run across one of my keepsake copies of the first 13 editions of The Real MainStream, published before the current worldwide pandemic, I feel awash in memories and sensations. “We’ll never give up the handshake!” joked a customer and I in early March. Mere days later, he and dozens of others in our circulation area announced they were saying “no” to not only handshakes, but all in-store traffic for a few months.  Back…

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Proteus provides face masks, COVID-19 support to farmworkers in three states

Proteus, Inc. is collecting face masks, providing free testing, educating workers on prevention, and helping coronavirus survivors with follow-up services, through a new initiative it began in March. The Des Moines-based nonprofit has already provided masks for 2,000 of the estimated 7,500 migrant farmworkers throughout Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa. Their top goal is to receive enough donated masks to provide at least two to every farmworker in the three-state area. “Farmworkers are essential workers. They contribute to supporting the food supply chain, agricultural economy, and help put food on our…

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