Chicago — “Enough is enough—we have to act and have dialogue.” And with that Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton launched a three-part townhall series on systemic racism and pathways to accountability. “And Still We Rise: Say Her Name: Injustice and Accountability” was part one in the series that aired Tuesday on Stratton’s social media platforms. It was a riveting conversation regarding gender injustice as seen through a woman’s perspective, and featured Sandra Bland’s sisters, Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly and State Rep. Gordon-Booth.
“Sandra Bland…Rekia Boyd…Breonna Taylor… they are so much more than a hashtag,” Stratton said.
Almost five years ago, Bland, 28, was found hanging in her Texas jail cell for an alleged traffic violation; Eight years ago, Boyd, 22, was the victim of a Chicago off-duty, police officer’s bullet, and Taylor, 26, was shot 10 times, in a mistaken identity shoot out by the Louisville Metro Kentucky police. “Why isn’t the outcry over their deaths as loud as that of others? We wanted to talk about it and find ways to push for social justice reform,” said Stratton during her hour-long townhall. Viewers may watch the meeting in its entirety on her Facebook page.
The oldest sister to Sandra Bland, Ms. Cooper, spoke compassionately about her sister’s free spirit, her gifts, her boldness, cooking talents, love for gospel music and eagerness to help older people. “She was the baddest trombone player,” said Cooper, who explained how Sandra earned a college scholarship for playing in the band. Bland’s sister Shante Needham talked about their new role, fighting to keep Sandra’s legacy alive and battling against police brutality. “There has to be accountability,” she said.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly agreed. “Attorney Generals should have the authority to investigate police who have a pattern or practice of brutality.” State Rep. Gordon-Booth said, “Police should be certified and licensed, like barber and accountants.” She also advocated for more resources for trauma and mental health services for women. Part two of the Lt. Governor’s tele-townhall series will be held on July 1st at 6pm on her Facebook and Twitter pages. Stratton and her husband with cohost the event. It will address the issue of systemic racism and how it has impacted the mental health of Black men.
The final tele-townhall in the series, on a date to be announced, will focus on social justice reform, peaceful protests and the development of activism as seen through the eyes of young people.