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'Black Students Didn't Feel Like They Had A Voice'

Joy Shannon and Gaye Shannon Burnett

Joy and Gaye Shannon were new to the Quad Cities when they became students at Rock Island High School in the early 1970s. 

It was a time when political tension and unfair treatment of African American students persisted in schools. In 1972, this angst resulted in a week of unrest at Rock Island High School — often referred to as the Rocky riots.

Joy Shannon and Gaye Shannon Burnett came to the WVIK studios to reflect on the atmosphere at Rock Island high school leading up to the riots,  what it was like attending the school as young African American women, and how the events shaped who they are today. 

Gaye Shannon Burnett is a co-founder of the Azubuike African American Council for the Arts in the Quad Cities. Joy Shannon works in the film industry in Los Angeles.

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