* Press release…
Echoing her career work fighting for Black families and disadvantaged communities, state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, was elected Joint Caucus Chair for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC).
“I am honored to receive the trust of my colleagues as we enter what I expect to be an impactful legislative session,” Harper said. “This past year has illustrated the critical need for reform in Illinois to combat systemic racism in the areas of education, economic development, criminal justice, health care and human services. Tremendous sacrifice has led us to this moment, and it is our duty to improve the quality of life for Illinoisans.”
Since its founding in 1968, the ILBC has worked to ensure that the interests of African Americans and Black communities are given equitable representation in the Illinois General Assembly regarding areas of education, health and welfare, minority business enterprise, job creation, consumer education and criminal justice reform. As Joint Caucus Chair, Harper succeeds Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford.
Harper plans to focus on four policy pillars announced by the Black Caucus this fall to promote racial justice and equal opportunity. The four pillars are:
• Criminal justice reform, police accountability and violence reduction.
• Economic access, equity and opportunity.
• Education and workforce development.
• Health care and human services.
“In addition to working to pass our legislative priorities regarding racial justice, we will continue to focus on assisting students pursuing higher education and sparking greater interest in civics and the legislative process,” Harper said. “I’m grateful for the dedication and hard work exhibited by Senator Lightford and I can’t thank her enough for her incredible leadership and stewardship of the Black Caucus. I look forward to working with the diverse and talented members of our caucus to continue our mission to improve the lives of Illinoisans.”
Harper, a Chicago Democrat, defeated Rep. Carol Ammons for the leadership position.
Also elected to the joint Black Caucus leadership team: Sen. Emil Jones will be treasurer, newly elected Rep. Lakesia Collins is secretary, and Rep. Curtis Tarver II is sergeant-at-arms. All are Democrats.
Separately, the Senate Black Caucus elected Sen. Robert Peters as its chair.
The House Black Caucus will elect its new leadership Dec. 15. There is buzz that Rep. Kam Buckner could be part of the leadership team.
*** UPDATE *** Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford…
After six years in this role, I leave it with a heavy heart but a content one. My colleagues and I went to battle against a governor who tried to undermine our communities for four years and we still managed to get things done that will have lasting impacts on closing opportunity gaps for the people we serve. And now we have a historic opportunity to undo harm from generations of systemic racism through the passage of our Black agenda. And I’m going to finish what I started because there is nothing more important to this caucus, our communities and our state then putting racism and the structures that have given them life to rest.