ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On May 31st of 2020, life changed in Rockford and around the country.
Local groups, like the Rockford chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Eliminate Racism 815 have been key players in an ongoing community conversation about race relations.
Rhonda Greer-Robinson, the president of the local NAACP, says she has seen some changes in the past year.
“It sparked a lot of attention to policing which made a lot of black activists stand up, protesters stand up,” Greer-Robinson said. “Now, with the body cams being mandatory, and with that bill amendment changing a bunch of laws to make it where police are more accountable.”
“People are just more aware that there’s an issue that needs to be talked about,” said Dick Rundall, president of Eliminate Racism 815. He says he’s seen more interest from community members to learn about the issues that impact Rockford’s black community.
“The real exciting and, sometimes, frustrating challenge is getting changes to occur,” Rundall added.
Rundall’s group has had meetings with Mayor Tom McNamara to discuss changes they’d like to see in Rockford.
“To me, it’s an exciting time, in some ways, to see people coming together, organizations working together, to create a better community for all of us,” he said.
Both organizations say they know it may take some time for meaningful changes to happen, but they are optimistic.
“It’s a slow process that changes not only people’s minds, but it changes their hearts,” Rundall said. “And that’s when you have changes that will last.”
“We all need to play a part at the same table, discussing the same matters, just to correct what is going on in our community. We have to continue to move forward to remove the barriers,” said Greer-Robinson.