Why Books Were Removed From A Danville Prison; IL Judicial Elections; Confronting White Nationalism in Schools; Cahokia National Park?

August 19, 2019
 

The Education Justice Project offers University of Illinois classes to a select group of men at the Danville Correctional Center. Earlier this year, more than 200 books from the EJP library in the prison were removed.

Courtesy of the Education Justice Project

We learn why the warden of the Danville Correctional Center ordered the removal of more than 200 books from a prison education program library. And, when you hear 2020 you’re probably not thinking about the state Supreme Court. But what happens in that election will have big consequences for Illinois. Plus, educators have been seeing more white nationalist propaganda in their communities, and they’ve come up with strategies to push back. Also, why advocates and some lawmakers want to make Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois into a national park.

We wanted to share an update on a story that the Illinois Newsroom first broke in May about how more than 200 books were removed from a prison education program library at the Danville Correctional Center. Most of those books had one thing in common: they were about race.

A lot has happened since then. State lawmakers held a hearing about this earlier this summer. And, IDOC has said it will change its policy on which books are allowed in prisons.

But until now, we still didn’t know who ordered the books removed, and why. Now we have some answers thanks to Lee Gaines. She's the reporter who originally broke this story and she’s joins us in our Urbana studios.

Plus-- 

When you hear 2020, you’re probably thinking of the presidential election. Or perhaps you live in a competitive House district. You might even be looking ahead to the referendum on whether to change our state income tax.

But next November, Illinois voters will also pick three of our seven state supreme court justices. Illinois’ Supreme Court isn’t in the headlines very often, but these justices can have a big effect on what happens in our state.

David Thomas is a reporter with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. 

Also-- 

The mass shootings at an El Paso Wal-Mart, a mosque in Christchurch New Zealand, and a synagogue in Pittsburgh were all motivated by white nationalist ideology. These attacks killed dozens of people - and all happened within the past year. 

There’s also been an increase in white nationalist propaganda in schools and college campuses. And now, educators are taking it upon themselves to confront and stop these ideas early on.

Nora Flanagan is a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and helped develop a toolkit called “Confronting White Nationalism in Schools” with the Western States Center. She was invited to  Champaign Thursday by the group called Bend the Arc C-U to give a workshop on this. 

We spoke with Nora’s co-authors, Lindsey Schubiner who's the program director at the Western States Center. It’s a non-profit on the West Coast but they’ve developed this toolkit for teachers nationwide. Lara Trubowitz is the Midwest Education Director for the Anti-Defamation League and associate director for national college and university programs. 

And-- 

There are 61 national parks here in the U.S. but, so far, there are still none in Illinois. Our state is home to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, but for many of us, the newly designated Indiana Dunes is our closest national park. 

That might change soon thanks to a bill that would designate Cahokia Mounds, and other related nearby sites, as a national park. Every year roughly 300,000 people visit the mounds which occupy more than 2,000 acres in the southwest corner of our state.  

Ed Weilbacher is the vice president of Heartlands Conservancy, an environmental and conservation non-profit in Belleville. Tamira Brennan is the curator for collections at the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois Carbondale. They both join us. 

Bill Stewart is a professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joins us in our Urbana studio.