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Candidates Discuss Social Justice, Institutional Racism at Local Forum

WVIK Staff
Juanita Zertuche, LULAC Council #5285, Dr. Christopher Whitt, Dir. of Augustana's Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity & Berlinda Tyler-Jamison, Pres. of the Rock Island Co. NAACP

A Quad Cities group says it's been successful in giving people of color a chance to hear local candidates talk about issues that matter most to their lives, such as social justice and racial inequality. 

Sarah Ritter reports on the latest forum held by the Black and Brown Political Coalition of the Quad Cities.

The forum included Mike Halpin, candidate for state representative in Illinois' 72nd district. And those running for Rock Island County State's Attorney, John McGehee and Geoffrey Campbell. 

Augustana College Professor, Christopher Whitt, says candidates answered questions about institutional racism, and how they might help people of color achieve leadership roles in the community.

"Certainly there would not be this kind of discussion without the Black and Brown Coalition," Whitt says. "And from some of the answers, it was clear to see that our candidates in the area definitely, regardless of party, have some work to do in terms of really being in touch with these issues."

He says it was a rare opportunity, because questions of social justice and equality are usually saved for presidential or national candidates. 

"The thing about those questions many times being skipped on the local level, is that people who are running for county-wide office or state office, they have so much more contact with people in the community, particularly with communities  of color," he says. "And that's a strong part of their constituency. So really, we should ask those questions even more of people who are running for office right here at home."

Whitt says now that the Black and Brown Political Coalition has held two forums, it's ready to start looking at other ways to engage black and Latino communities in the political process.