WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Dr. Sheila Caldwell. Caldwell was named SIU's inaugural Vice President for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in April.

Southern Illinois University

SIU President Dan Mahony talks with WSIU's Jennifer Fuller about his nomination for the inaugural SIU Vice President for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion... along with expectations for the coming summer and fall semesters amid COVID-19.


SIU President Dan Mahony has his selection for the system's first Vice President for Antiracism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.

Mahony is recommending Sheila Caldwell for the new position. SIU Trustees will consider the hire at their meeting later this month.

Sirrea Whittaker describes her dad as the life of the party, an outspoken Black man with a love for his Omega Psi Phi fraternity and a sprawling network of friends.

“And it sometimes was annoying, because like, you can go to the grocery store and you leave two hours later because he finds someone he knew,” says the 36-year-old working mother from Indianapolis.

His 5-year-old granddaughter describes him a little differently: "He was the man that gave me chocolate milk every night, when we spent the night."

The Carbondale Branch of the NAACP is taking part in a statewide program dealing with racial healing.

Branch President Linda Flowers says the Healing Illinois initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services involves getting people to communicate across racial and socio-economic lines.

She says the NAACP decided its project would involve a reading discussion group.

"Our thinking was that sometimes it's easier for me to talk about race and uncomfortable issues when I'm talking about it from the perspective of this book as opposed to my personal experiences."

UPDATE: Pritzker Expresses Solidarity with Asian Americans in Illinois

Mar 23, 2021

Less than a week after a deadly attack on Asian Americans in Atlanta, Gov. JB Pritzker and members of the General Assembly’s Asian American Caucus spoke out against the murders and against discrimination generally toward the Asian American community.

WSIU Staff

Social Justice movements like Black Lives Matter have changed the way Americans think over the last several months. February is Black History Month, and we'll bring you opportunities to learn more about history and culture, as well as ways to get more involved in equity and diversity initiatives.

Commentary: The Black and White Dividing Line

Feb 26, 2021
Associated Press

As Black History Month winds to a close, WSIU contributor Pete Peterson takes a personal look at the black and white racial dividing line in America.

In his first weeks in office, President Joe Biden has rolled back multiple federal policies that negatively affected LGBTQ+ people under former president Donald Trump. But in Illinois, policy advocates say there’s still more battles to be fought.

Mary Flowers, State's Longest-Serving Black Lawmaker, Follows in Footsteps of Firsts

Feb 21, 2021

During the past three and half decades, Rep. Mary Flowers — who in January became the longest-serving African American lawmaker in the Illinois General Assembly’s history — has fought to pass health care reform and advocate for groups marginalized by systemic racism.

It’s a fighting spirit the 69-year-old lawmaker inherited from her mother, who worked in a factory and other odd jobs to provide for her seven children, and one that she honed while following in the footsteps of Black legislative leaders in Illinois who preceded her.

SIU School of Law

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Prof. John Brittain about his lecture, "Awakening, Reckoning, and Mindfulness in 2020."


Late last year, Major League Baseball decided to alter its record books by adding Negro League statistics to baseball's official record.

In his annual Black History Month essay for Reading Baseball, Pete Peterson highlights some of the top players from the Negro Leagues, some of whom made it to the big leagues and others who didn't get the chance.

Drug manufacturers have released promising early results for their COVID-19 vaccines, but skepticism among Americans remains high -- especially for African Americans, who the virus has hit harder than other groups.


November is Native American Heritage Month.

In this edition of Reading Baseball, Pete Peterson gives us a history lesson on the impact of Native Americans – who played in the major leagues dating back to the 19th century.


Dusty Spurgeon is proud to be a female farmer. 

Experts Testify About Systemic Racism in Illinois Home Loan, Banking Industries

Oct 18, 2020

In Illinois and around the country, an increasing number of universities, investigators and researchers are turning up evidence of systemic racism in the financial sector that has plagued Black Americans for decades.


2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues.

People from the world of politics, professional athletics and entertainment tipped their caps this past summer to honor the players, many of whom were denied the hope of playing in the Major Leagues.

In this edition of Reading Baseball, Pete Peterson tips his cap to a mostly overlooked Negro League player who broke his own barriers in the game.

Path to 100 Backers Call for Bill’s Passage, Diversity in Renewable Energy

Oct 15, 2020

Lawmakers and renewable energy stakeholders are calling for legislative action on measures meant to bring funding to and diversify the clean energy industry in the state.

Lawmakers Probe Barriers to Black Business Development

Oct 9, 2020

Black-owned businesses in Illinois face significant barriers to growth and opportunities that would enable them to compete with their white-owned counterparts, a problem that many Black leaders say is directly tied to Black unemployment rates and the deterioration of Black neighborhoods.

That was the message state lawmakers heard Thursday when three Senate committees held a virtual joint hearing that focused on entrepreneurship and financial development for Black business owners.

Pritzker Administration Announces $4.5 Million ‘Racial Healing’ Initiative

Oct 7, 2020

Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton unveiled a $4.5 million initiative Tuesday that is meant to foster dialogue and promote racial healing in the state.

The Healing Illinois initiative is a grant program launched in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust that will be overseen by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Committee looks at land use, gentrification, lingering effects of redlining

Oct 2, 2020

Redlining and gentrification were the latest topics discussed Thursday in a series of committee hearings spurred by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus as its members lay the groundwork for its veto session agenda.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony about the university's response and plans surrounding COVID-19, and also recent "Conversations of Understanding" and initiatives combatting racism throughout the system.


Women playing professional baseball is almost unheard of. Just over 20 years ago, a California woman had a successful college baseball career and made it to the minor leagues.

In this edition of Reading Baseball, Pete Peterson explains why he believes this remarkable woman should’ve been included on a list of the 100 most accomplished and influential women of the past century to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment.

Baseball Hall of Fame

With the amplified call to remove racist references across the U.S. this summer, a recent column urged the Baseball Writers Association of America to rename an award for its industry that is connected to a man who opposed the integration of America’s pastime.

In his latest edition of Reading Baseball, Pete Peterson suggests renaming the award after a man who dealt with segregation in his journalism career and went on to help African-American players overcome racial hatred and injustice.

Southern Illinois University

Equity and accountability were two major themes from Southern Illinois University's second "Conversation of Understanding" event - held Tuesday online.

The discussion focused on hate speech and social media, as people of color within the SIU community talked about their experiences on campus and online.

Tatiana Kelley is a fourth-year medical student, but was an undergrad in Carbondale when she saw a video using racial slurs and disturbing language aimed at people of color.

It was only a matter a time that recent events caused someone to focus in on Illinois State Capitol statues dedicated to those with racist pasts.  Now, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is calling for the removal of two statues sitting outside the State Capitol and a portrait inside the chamber of the Illinois House.

Southern Illinois University

SIU Carbondale's new chancellor officially began his tenure Monday, and he says he's building the list of things he wants to accomplish.

Coming to town amid a global pandemic adds to the challenge of the new job. But Austin Lane says he's equal to the task. He says getting students back on campus is his main focus right now, balancing the financial needs of the university with making sure everyone is safe.

Some local advocacy groups are hoping to raise awareness of racism by participating in a Blackout Tuesday event, on Tuesday at the First Christian Church of Carbondale.  

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller reports on SIU's Conversation of Understanding, the first in a series of town hall-style events to address racism and other issues across the system. 

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University will host the first in what leaders hope is a series of conversations Monday night, aimed at addressing racism within the system.