East St. Louis Race Riots In May 1917, East St. Louis witnessed one of the worst race riots ever seen in the United States. Sparked by attacks on African American men and women following a union rally, the riots culminated in the burning of black neighborhoods and malicious attacks and murders of 200 African-American men and women.

Senate Majority Leader James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) passed a resolution Monday in remembrance of the events that took place 100 years ago.

“It is important we take time to reflect on and remember these events,” Clayborne added. “While we have made progress in race relations since the East St. Louis riots 100 years ago, our society remains contentious on race-related issues. To move forward, we must remember past actions and ensure the past does not repeat itself.”

In 1917, East St. Louis industry was booming. To fill the gap in the labor market, factory recruiters began looking toward the South for black workers. What became known as the Great Migration culminated in a competition for jobs. The labor issues became a racial issue, which quickly boiled over with rising tensions.

In early July 1917, the tensions became so bad that mobs of white men and women began setting fire to black neighborhoods, trapping people in their homes and shooting those who tried to escape.

With no effective interference from local police, the sheriff or military authorities, nearly 200 African American men, women and children lost their lives, more than 300 buildings were destroyed and 6,000 people fled from their homes.  It took days for the National Guard to gain control of the situation.

“The events that transpired in 1917 were terrible to say the least,” said Clayborne. “The social, political and cultural ramifications these riots had on the community are vast. With this resolution I hope to draw attention to those events so the city, the state and the country can reflect on the atrocities of the riots and continue to heal.”

The measure, Senate Resolution 337, observes May 28, 2017, as a day of remembrance in the state of Illinois on the centennial of the 1917 race riots. A copy will be sent to Marla Byrd, the commissioner of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative.

For full text of the resolution click here.

03022017CM0123Senate Democrats passed legislation Tuesday that would balance the state budget and bring much-needed funding to P-12 education, higher education and human services.

Senate Majority Leader James F. Clayborne (D- Belleville) released the following statement:

“Today, we passed a plan to bring stability and certainty to Illinoisans. Lawmakers have a responsibility to the people back home. We must put an end to this chaos and get Illinois back on track. We cannot wait any longer. The longer we go without a budget, the longer seniors go without meals on wheels, people go without medicated to receive cancer treatment and at-risk youth have no place to go after school. I hope to see this plan continue to progress.”

Grand BargainThe Illinois Senate voted on pieces of the bipartisan negotiated grand bargain today in another attempt to keep discussions going and solve the state’s budgetary issues. Senate Majority Leader James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) released the following statement:


“Today we passed some key components of the Grand Bargain. However, we must still continue negotiations to help get the state out of the trouble it is in. There is no easy solution, but continuing to have a dialogue is the only way we will get to one. We are working through this, and we will continue to do so until we find a resolution.”

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