Campus and community stakeholders will have the knowledge, skills, and courage to tell the truth regarding the ways in which racism has impacted our campus, region, and relationships. SIUE was originally founded in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1957. By 1965, however, the university relocated to Edwardsville, Illinois. Relocation marked the beginning of a privileging of Edwardsville in the history of SIUE and the erasure of East St. Louis from the dominant narrative. This transition was part of the broader “hallowing out” of East St.Louis that resulted in racial isolation and economic divestment. The first step toward racial equity is to acknowledge and honor the full history of SIUE’s relationship with East St. Louis — what it was, what it is, what it might have been, but also, what it can be.The path to racial equity also includes an accurate recounting of East St. Louis' history — bringing awareness to impact of racism on the city’s evolution over time and a situating of that local history within a broader regional and national racial narrative.
The SIUE Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center will serve as a model for community-based racial healing and change in the St. Louis-Metro East region. We seek to dismantle a hierarchy of human value by connecting community agencies already engaged in anti-racism work, establishing new relationships between those community agencies and SIUE, and preparing college and high school students to work alongside community members as agents of social change. We take an anti-colonial position that leverages our privilege as an economically and socially powerful institution. As equal partners with all stakeholders, we will establish authentic, trusting relationships for the upbuilding of sustainable communities where people of all backgrounds can thrive.
The SIUE TRHT E-Stories Project will provide an infrastructure for sharing and documenting the individual experiences of community members through digital storytelling. These experiences will form the basis of a shared narrative of the SIUE and East St. Louis communities. The initiative will be modeled after the Humans of St. Louis project. Humans of St. Louis is a 501(c)(3)that shares first-person stories and photographic portraits of people and places in St. Louis. In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder and protests in Ferguson,Humans of St. Louis documented the perspectives of St. Louis residents and members of the Ferguson Commission to bring attention to the reports’ calls for action — among them, racial equity. In utilizing this structure, as well as building on it by bringing in theater and other visual arts, and highlighting the day to day lived experiences of East St. Louisans and SIUE students, staff, and faculty who call East St. Louis home, we hope to present a more positive image of the city and raise awareness about the effects of structural racism on the city.
Who is the target audience? The target audience is the Metro-East, specifically the SIUE, Edwardsville, East St. Louis, Madison County, and St. Clair county residents.