This issue includes: President's letter, Observer Corps, Student Chapter and SUFFRAGETTE Event.
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President's letter

Black and White in America

I recently attended the annual Wesley Fall Seminar, sponsored by the Wesley United Methodist Women. The topic was BLACK AND WHITE IN AMERICA:  A Look at Racial Relations and Violence. The topic might as well have been Black and White in C-U; two academics and two Champaign practitioners provided a context for examining OUR attitudes and stereotypes that influence much of our understanding of events in our community.

While we all engage in stereotype thinking -- sometimes for convenience, sometimes as a substitute for investing time and energy to really understand an issue -- the fact remains it is a very unreliable method of processing information.  Relying on stereotypes – frequently derived from and reinforced by popular media is a lazy method to get to know people or an unfamiliar culture. This is where the thinking becomes harmful, serving as a wedge that ultimately divides us.

Police Chief Cobb challenged the crowd to “get out of your comfort zone, take a risk, extend yourself.”  How? By mentoring, inviting a stranger to attend your church services, introducing yourself to someone new at a luncheon, at the library, or while waiting for a bus. Using himself as an example, Chief Cobb admitted that his motivation for joining the police force was to see for himself if officers really hated African-Americans as he had heard while growing up among his family and circle of friends. He advised that such strategies take time and courage; expecting quick, positive results will just not happen.

The answer to better race relations is not out there; it’s in each of us, and that understanding gives each of us power to change the situation.

--Barbara Wysocki, League of Women Voters of Champaign County President

LWVCC goes to the movies!


When:  Nov. 6th (Friday) @ 7:00
Where: the Art Theater in Champaign
What: SUFFRAGETTE with Meryl Streep and Helen Bonham Carter
We are happy to partner with the Art Theater for a special showing of SUFFRAGETTE – the story of women’s suffrage in England at the turn of the 19th century.   Following the film, there will be a panel discussion assessing the progress American women have made over the past 95 years, with a special eye to the 2016 election season.  What a deal for the price of a ticket!
Mark your calendar now!  Bring some friends.  Prepare to be entertained; prepare to learn/hear something new!

Upcoming Events

We hope to see you there!

SUFFRAGETTE/panel discussion – Friday, Nov. 6 @ 7:00 @ the Art Theater
On-going: 4 in-house Study Groups re Local Program
LWVCC Brd Mtg. Tuesday  -- Dec. 1 -- @11:00 @ Carolyn’s  404 W. Iowa, Urbana
LWVCC Celebration to honor new 50 yr. members – Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 @ Milo’s


Honoring 50 year members!

Coming up in January is one of those rare moments when some of our membership qualifies for 50 year designation. Currently we have eleven members in this august body and soon we will add four more:
This honor means that all four remain members of LWVCC, LWVIL, AND LWVUS without having to pay dues.  They are encouraged to participate in any or all of the League’s activities and programs, to contribute their time and resources if they choose, and generally enjoy senior status.
More information about the event will be forthcoming as will more information about our inductees.


Court Watching

Part II 

(part I appeared in October’s newsletter, describing the current practice of court-watching as outlined to the Trial Advocacy class. League member Joan Miller wrote this historical piece that provides the background to this project.  With her permission, we share it with you.)

 “I’ve driven by this campus hundreds of times and never been in it or understood what happens here.”

Our local League began court watching in 1974 and has been doing so continuously, although in decreased numbers, since that time.
Louise Allen, Lois Brodsky, and Dorothy O’Neill were the members who were most involved in the project. Lois’ acceptance and the goodwill she generated at the courthouse were impressive. Each year Louise and Dorothy were invited to speak at the initial meeting of Steve Beckett’s Trial Advocacy students. When they could no longer do so, I replaced them.
As the numbers of League members who watched the courts decreased significantly over time we have Steve to thank for maintaining a very significant and important presence at the courthouse through his Trial Ad students.
In 2003 when Tina Gunsalus was both president of LWVCC and adjunct professor at the law school the reporting form that the law students (as well as League observers) use was expanded to provide much significant information and remains in use at the present time. The law students’ reports and observations have been invaluable to our community.

A long time court watcher has been Shirley Nortrup, an Urbana resident who is not a League member. She was an observer of the courts, at one time for the Foster Parents Association, and, for well over thirty years, for LWVCC.  Shirley and I continue to watch the courts together, although sporadically. When we court watch we are always greeted enthusiastically by courthouse personnel. I believe that is thanks to the goodwill generated by Lois Brodsky. She is remembered by many of the staff and her influence is felt even by those who are too young to have known her.
I am grateful for the experience of working with Tina and Steve. I wish the League much success in strengthening this valuable program.

The Observer Corps Needs you!

Public involvement in our public institutions is an important part of making democracy work.  By regularly attending meetings of our governing officials, members of the League's Observer Corps serve as the eyes and ears for the rest of the League and for the citizens of the county as a whole. 


League observers also serve as ambassadors for the League, strengthening communication with community leaders.  By being present at government meetings, they learn about community issues and can identify those that may require action by the League.  Or they may discover concerns that will shape future League programs.  Having a strong Observer program helps to reinforce the League's reputation as a “good government” group.


Please consider becoming the League observer of one of the following boards that currently has no League observer.


Urbana Plan Commission

Urbana Park District

Urbana Free Library Board

Champaign Unit 4 School Board

Champaign Park District

Champaign County Board

Champaign County Housing Authority

Senior Services of Champaign County

C-U Mass Transit District

C-U Public Health District


To volunteer, or for more information, call or email Sue Phillips at 217-359-8818 or

Hard to believe that November is upon us!  For those of you who make end-of-the-year charitable contributions, please remember LWVCC and/or LWVILEF (tax-deductible). Contributions can be made at our website or by check.  Thank you for your generosity!

Student Chapter Independent Mapping Event

Cindi Canary

 Recently, our Student Unit, along with LWVCC and CC Chamber of Commerce, sponsored Cindi Canary who visited campus to talk about the INDEPENDENT MAP AMENDMENT to the Illinois Constitution. 
Cindi set the context for this current map movement by arguing that the voting rights of all Illinois citizens are compromised by procedures that advantage elected politicians. Commonly known as “gerrymandering”, the long-standing practice of drawing political borders that disregard natural, existing human communities and geographic boundaries, creates animosities and one-party dominance, opening the door for corruption and disparities.
States that have opted for some form of independent commission report greater popular engagement in local/state government. Legislators are more attentive to constituents – viewing all of them as equal rather than as those who will vote for me and those who won’t.
Cindi has devoted her life to responsive, fair government. Besides her long involvement with LWVIL, Cindi is currently serving as the Executive Director of Independent Maps.  Previously, she was the director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Her career has focused exclusively on government ethics, election reform, and transparency.

Cindi also serves on the board of the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice.  She holds a M.A. in Government from Georgetown and a B.A. in Political Science from Hampshire College.
At the end of the evening, Champaign County turned over 2200 signatures.  That, along with the 1,000 Cindi collected in Peoria, made it a very good day.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  The LWCC influences public policy through education and advocacy, working on various issues at local and national levels. League members come from all walks of life – united by our shared understanding of the importance of political literacy, we celebrate being non-partisan and diverse in our identities, affiliations, and experiences.

Copyright © 2015 League of Women Voters of Champaign County, All rights reserved.

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