During Monday's MLK Observance in Macomb, Illinois NAACP State Conference President Teresa Haley said everyone in the U.S. can enjoy some privilege if racism is dismantled.
“And how do we begin to do that? Through conversation, through education, to making sure that we are empowering ourselves with the necessary tools that we all need to be successful in life today,” Haley said via Zoom.
She also urged audience members to help dismantle racism by registering to vote and then casting a ballot on Election Day. She said you don’t have a voice if you don’t vote.
Haley shared some tips for getting into what she said the late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis called “good trouble”:
- Make sure that you pray. “I don’t care if you don’t believe in God,” Haley said, “but whatever you believe in make sure that you honor it and that you pray.”
- Protect yourself
- Have a plan
- Be proactive instead of reactive
- Stand up and speak up for what you believe in
- Be a productive citizen and know your purpose
Haley said police departments should be reformed rather than defunded. And she pointed out McDonough County law enforcement agencies last summer signed onto the Ten Shared Principles of Policing.
“We’re working with chiefs of police around the country and throughout Illinois to make sure that we’re building relationships with the Black community and the police departments and not tearing down those relationships,” she said.
Haley also addressed the January 6 insurrection by a mob of pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol.
“Dr. King fought, bled, and died for the freedom for all of us to stand here today,” Haley said. “And we are seeing things happen in our nation’s Capitol that should not be happening in the United States of America.”
The McDonough County Branch of the NAACP, the Western Illinois University Black Student Association, the WIU Chapter of the NAACP, WIU’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and Mount Calvary Church of God in Christ in Macomb hosted the community’s MLK Day event.
Byron Oden-Shabazz, President of the McDonough County Branch of the NAACP, emphasized the importance of coming together.
“The word ‘community’ has a word in it, and it’s ‘unity.’ That’s the important premise of a community, that people take care of each other and look after each other,” Oden-Shabazz said.
“This is not about your skin color or where you’re from. It’s about exactly where you are right now.”
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