Snapshots of the Rise 189 Teach-in in East St. Louis

Couldn’t make it out last Thursday night to the Rise 189 Teach-in? No problem! Scroll down to view beautiful pictures and quotes from the evening. Then, send a letter in support and sign up to volunteer leading up to election day!

 Kenya Ajanako, visual and preforming artist

Kenya Ajanako, visual and preforming artist

Kenya Ajanako

I came out because of Miss Jessica Fort. She had an article in The American newspaper. She seemed to care about our kids. She understands racism is alive and well. I like to try and meet people like that to develop a relationship because we are on the same page. We’re trying to slow the pipeline down from elementary to the penitentiary.

 Edna Collins Farmer, retired District 189 teacher (left) with Angelet Mosely, 1985 graduate of Lincoln Senior High (right)

Edna Collins Farmer, retired District 189 teacher (left) with Angelet Mosely, 1985 graduate of Lincoln Senior High (right)

Edna Collins Farmer

I’m a retired teacher. I taught here. I know the shenanigans. I was a union rep since 1970.

Angelet Mosely

I graduated Lincoln in 1985. This lady has had a reputation since before I got to that high school. She maintained a reputation after I left that high school. You talk about somebody that was vested—she didn’t just show up to work; she was vested in all of the children, even if we weren’t in her class. It amazes me. I graduated when? 34 years ago. She knows my name.


I don’t forget students.


She knows everybody’s name.


My claim to fame is that I taught Jackie Joyner Kersee, Alvin Parks, Debra Powell, Al Joyner… You name them. I taught them. I came along with their generation.

I taught 31 and a half years at Lincoln. They closed Lincoln down in ’98. They closed the only Black school in Southern Illinois. I taught then for four years at my alma mater, East St. Louis Senior High School. When I attended school there, they didn’t want us. The Whites were in the majority. We were in the minority.

My family came here from Mississippi during the Great Migration. To this day I still live in East St. Louis, Illinois.

 William Romious, Rise 189, member welcoming attendees

William Romious, Rise 189, member welcoming attendees

 Pearl Burton, sister of Rise 189 member Toni Burton and children

Pearl Burton, sister of Rise 189 member Toni Burton and children

Pearl Burton

I’m here to learn!


I’m a student, and I go to school board meetings. I want us to remember that there is something that each and every one of us can do every day in order to improve our district.

Shontay Ford

My “why” is my niece, nephew and cousin. They all attend District 189. I want them to have a better experience than I did going through the district.

Endia Ford

My “why” is Jamie, Jaden, Chelsea, and Joshua.

Jessica Fort

My “why” is I want my future children and the kids in the district to have an even better experience than I had in District 189.

Kila Rice-Bay

My “why” is my grandson—Toby.

Brenda Ray

My “why” is my four children—one in kindergarten, two in pre-k, and one entering pre-k next year.

 Marie Franklin, Rise 189 member

Marie Franklin, Rise 189 member

Marie Franklin

My “why” is I want our children to thrive!

In a classroom of 25 children, how many are reading on grade level? Two! Only two. This is unacceptable. This cannot continue!

Superman is not going to come save us. We have to save ourselves.

That’s why our policy solutions offer proven strategies to rise the district through increased community engagement.

Jessica Wernli

We believe we have the assets in this room to raise the district to the next level, which is why we want to make sure that people in this room are part of the district’s planning process.

Jessica Fort

So far we’ve reached out to school board members and the superintendent to request meetings to discuss the policy solutions. They’ve received emails from our supporters, too. We plan to attend the upcoming school board meetings to formally present the policy solutions to the board.

Treasure Shields Redmond

You may recognize my last name because my dad is the poet laureate of St. Louis, Illinois. He’s a big supporter of the city—graduated from Lincoln in 1957.

I’m a dual citizen of Mississippi and East St. Louis. My mother raised in Mississippi, but would come to East St. Louis for summers and holidays.

I recently took a job as a 9th grade writing teacher in East St. Louis Senior High. I want to tell the brother who said “all power to the people” that we are currently finishing reading the autobiography of Malcolm X in my class.

I wanted to offer support, and say that I’m with you.

It’s been a blessing to work with eastside 9th graders. There are a lot of brilliant, very very brilliant, very insightful young people in this district.

NZinga Medley

I am a product of East St. Louis School District 189, and I am a second generation educator in the school district. Unlike some of the people who gave their testimony, I had a great experience in school, and I felt very prepared when I finished. However, as a former teacher, I know that the students are not prepared.

Often teachers are blamed. But I know teachers are facing a lot. It’s hard, and there isn’t nearly enough support for them.

 Shontay Ford outlines the calls to action.

Shontay Ford outlines the calls to action.

Shontay Ford

I know there are challenges we are all dealing with. Still, we have to work together in the face of those challenges to figure out what can be done to improve the outcomes for our kids.

I’m getting emotional because this is something that I really am passionate about. My family is in this district, and we don’t plan on leaving. Why should we have to?

There are a few things you can do to support.

Watch the Teach-in livestream to learn more about Rise 189 and hear personal testimony.

Event photography by Izaiah Johnson