Photographs courtesy of CORIBUSH.ORG


A room full of avid supporters, students seeking credit and curious staff members alike attended a packed ECCE: Speaker Series event last week featuring St. Louisan political activist Cori Bush. Cosponsored by the UIS New Voices in Racial Justice Series, the UIS Women’s Center, the UIS Diversity Center, and UIS Department of Philosophy, the event featured a film prior to a poignant talk from Bush and a Q and A session with students. Director of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Rose and a UIS student were there to manage the discussion.

Knock Down The House, directed by Rachel Lears, was the documentary shown at the February 21 event. The film followed the stories of Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Paula Jean Swearengin and Amy Vilela as they each sought to represent their respective districts in Congress.

Following the documentary, Cori Bush went on to talk about issues St. Louis has been facing: sky-high murders per capita, widespread poverty and homelessness, mass incarceration, gun violence, and extreme levels of police brutality. As a single mother who has experienced domestic violence and sexual assault, she said that she will advocate for victims of those crimes, as well as the prevention of cases like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Although Cori Bush is not an incumbent for this district, she mentioned that St. Louis’ problems are representative of those ravaging the entire country. Political canvassing aside, she stated that her purpose in traveling to UIS was to inspire students to facilitate change in their own communities and rise up against injustice. “Leaders don’t lead from the back,” Bush pointed out during the Q&A. “The whole point is to make sure our community heals.” Activism has to involve taking initiative and refusing to back down in the face of opposition. She wants to leave a legacy and fulfill her purpose by leaving the community better than she left it.