Martin Luther King Jr. Day Teach-In 2010
Professor Kira Banks from the Department of Psychology introduced speakers on the
first panel, discussing Racism and Social Justice.
Loretta Thirtyacre is Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at COUNTRY Financial. In
that role she reports directly to executive leadership to oversee all corporate and
field activity as it relates to diversity. Along with that, she leads a cross-functional
Task Force that serves to implement projects and programs to support the effort. Prior
to coming to COUNTRY, Loretta led a similar initiative for State Farm Insurance where
she was the Director of Workforce of the Future. She has advanced degrees from Illinois
State University and serves on the Council for Great City Schools in Washington D.C.,
is a published author in the Journal of Psychological Type, and is currently president-elect
for the McLean County Multicultural Leadership Program.
Kenneth Woodard is a senior political science major. He is from Chicago, Illinois,
but Bloomington-Normal will continue to be his permanent address after he has graduated.
He worked as a summer intern for the McLean County Urban League in 2008, an organization
that is dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living
in historically underserved urban communities. He also worked in the summer of 2009
as an intern at the Unity Community Center, a multicultural after-school learning
center that provides programming for youth of families with limited resources.
Professor Jim Simeone from the Department of Political Science introduced the speakers
on the second panel, Immigration and Social Justice.
Sonny Garcia is the son of migrant workers; his mother was working in California during
the great grape boycott that Caesar Chavez organized. He grew up hearing stories about
the birth of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. He was born and raised
in Bloomington-Normal and has always felt the need to stand up for those who cannot
stand up for themselves.
In 2006 he organized the largest Latino demonstration for immigrant rights in the
history of McLean County, where 1000 people hit the streets of downtown Bloomington,
protesting the Sensenbrenner Bill: HR 4437. Since then he has been fighting for social
and economic justice on a variety of issues ranging from Latino/immigrant rights,
gay rights, the anti-war movement, and holding big banks accountable for the current
He is currently on staff at Illinois Peoples Action (IPA), formerly the Central Illinois
Organizing Project (CIOP), as their state-wide Latino organizer. He has helped the
Latino community create an organization called Latinos United for Change (LUC). LUC
is currently involved in a nationwide campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.
Monica Shah is a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University with majors in International
Studies and Hispanic Studies. Spending semesters in Washington D.C. and in Salamanca,
Spain, she is fortunate to have had many hands-on experiences learning about international
relations and children's issues, while practicing the Spanish language. This past
summer, she had an opportunity to intern with the National Children's Center at the
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She conducted telephonic intakes in Spanish
with children from Latin America. Unaccompanied, these children were caught crossing
the U.S. border "illegally," and were in the process of deportation hearings. She
used the information obtained by each child to create a legal memo that was sent to
pro bono lawyers who could represent them.
Shortly after she began the position, Monica became appalled by the children's accounts
of gang violence, parental neglect or abuse, and their dangerous journeys to the U.S.
Because of this unforgettable internship experience, she is passionate about spreading
awareness and helping these vulnerable children.
Professor William Munro from the Department of Political Science introduced speakers
on the third panel, Globalization and Social Justice.
Professor Olukayode (Ky) Ajayi has a varied international background. He has lived
in West Africa, Europe and North America and this experience has influenced the subject
matter he loves to teach. He has taught African Politics, Global Issues, Politics
of the Middle East, Introduction to International Relations, and Quantitative Reasoning
at Illinois State University. Here at IWU he teaches Globalization and Development,
Politics of the Middle East, and Introduction to International Politics.
Jessica Meyer is a junior at Illinois Wesleyan University with an International Studies
(Development) major and Political Science minor. Her interest in development is specifically
human rights and social justice. Her freshman year she helped start the Amnesty International
chapter at IWU and has been the president for two and a half years. That organization
educates and advocates on different human rights issues around the world, including
a current campaign against Russell Athletic.
She has also started a peace organization called the Renegades for Peace and won the
IWU Peace Fellowship and American Friends Service Committee Organize the Hope Fellowship.
She is also very active in the Bloomington-Normal Citizens for Peace Justice. Her
passion is educating as many people as possible about human rights abuses and what
they can do to help. She plans on studying abroad in the fall in Johannesburg, South
Africa, with the International Human Rights Exchange at Bard College.