The Center for Racial and Gender Equity (CRGE) is pleased to announce its release of the 2019 Racial Justice Legislative Report. This comprehensive analysis is designed to improve transparency, accessibility and oversight of the Illinois General Assembly as a whole, as well as that of individual members. The guide features a scorecard of each lawmakers’ performance, an in-depth analysis of key bills, a summary of legislative outcomes, and a comprehensive policy agenda outlining CRGE’s recommendations for advancing Black liberation in the next session.
In the 2019 spring session, Illinois lawmakers roundly discounted the most urgent policy concerns of Black constituents throughout the state. The legislature declined to pass any substantive reform of Illinois’ inhumane and racially targeted systems of mass incarceration and police violence, and failed to adequately ensure fair protections for workers, guarantee the democratic rights of Black voters, or promote equitable access to education, human services and economic opportunity.
While Republicans ranked consistently lower than Democrats on CRGE’s legislator scorecard, political complacency on racial justice issues in Springfield was not restricted to a single political party. Rather, an astonishing contingent of Democratic legislators roundly ignored the concerns of Black constituents, and despite their super majority control in both chambers, the party as a whole failed to pass policies that would meaningfully address systemic racial inequity in Illinois.
Members of the Black caucus ranked higher than the general legislative body, however a startling number of Black lawmakers scored below standards. Given the astounding levels of structural inequity and injustice experienced by communities of color across the state, it is incumbent upon lawmakers who represent majority Black districts to blaze the trail on racial justice policies.
The Racial Justice Legislative Report concludes by detailing key policy recommendations to build universal equity, justice and liberation in Illinois. CRGE calls upon lawmakers to answer the policy demands of Black constituents throughout the state, by enacting sweeping reform of sentencing laws, securing community control over the police, promoting workers rights and wages, investing equitably in public services, and ensuring fair voting rights and direct democracy for all.
CRGE believes communities of color deserve responsive and equitable political representation in Springfield. In order to advance policies that will reverse the institutionalized violence, displacement and extraction waged against Black Illinoisans for generations, constituents must play an active role in demanding accountability from elected officials. As we prepare for next year’s legislative session, CRGE is working to assert political power in Springfield, amplifying the demands of Black communities and championing an ambitious policy agenda that platforms Black Liberation as an electoral imperative.