Donations Needed: Journalism Diversity Fund

The Peoria NAACP has established a special account to fund coverage of diversity issues by central Illinois writers. The goal is to increase coverage of often-untold stories that cut through stereotypes and more accurately depict history, explain institutional racism and examine current public policy.

Institutional racism is often misunderstood or denied. Journalism that relies only on experts and authorities serves to entrench the status quo, not tell history through the perspective of the marginalized. This diversity fund will support journalism that examines historical racism.

Grants and donations will be used to fund travel and research.

Community Word is currently raising money for the fund to cover costs for Sherry Cannon to travel to Montgomery, Ala., to tour two new, powerful museums about lynching, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Cannon and a student she selects to accompany her will have the opportunity to interview contacts at the Equal Justice Initiative and at Southern Poverty Law Center. An article about her experience will be published in Community Word.

The National Museum of Peace and Justice opened in April and is dedicated to the victims of American white supremacy, with 800 weathered steel columns hanging from the roof, each with the name of a county in America and the names of people who were lynched there –– 4,400 names, each with a horrific story, each largely unrecognized in history books. Yet each story has the potential to bring us reckoning and understanding.

The nearby Legacy Museum shows how a system of slavery evolved into decades of terror and lynching, Jim Crow segregation and now mass incarceration. There is no hope for moving forward without accurate historical recognition of these gross human rights violations.

These museums are not geared toward rage and hatred, explains founder and attorney Bryan Stevenson, but for recognizing, acknowledging and struggling for a way to move forward as a unified country.

Please send donations to the journalism diversity fund at Peoria NAACP, PO Box 6002, Peoria, IL 61601.

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