Marriage Equality in the Disabled Community

by  Alayna Steward

For many Americans, choosing to get married could lead to illness or death.

Many people over the past few years have expressed their excitement that the fight for marriage equality is “finally over” with the legalization of same-sex marriage. For disabled people, the fight is still ongoing.

It is not talked about nearly enough, but Supplemental Security Income (SSI) constraints are a very real human rights issue, as well as a healthcare one. SSI is a federal program that helps disabled people (and many elderly) who live in poverty. It provides money for food and other basic needs. It is a needs-based program, and while beneficial, is currently counterproductive to helping disabled persons fulfill their right to marriage equality.

Marriage penalties are triggered when one or two disabled persons marry, reducing their benefits by 25 percent (Impact | Volume 23, Number 2). Even if those two are not legally married, their benefits will be reduced if they present themselves as a couple—meaning they cannot live together if they want to continue receiving benefits. If only one person in the relationship is receiving SSI, their benefits may also be reduced, or they may not be considered eligible to receive those benefits. This means that many disabled people have to choose between getting married or losing benefits—benefits that may be the only things keeping them alive.

Monetary restrictions place enormous burdens on the disabled participating in SSI. In order to be eligible, a disabled individual cannot have more than $2,000 in the bank, and a couple receiving SSI cannot have more than $3,000 combined (Impact Volume 23, Number 2). This forces disabled people, and possibly potential partners, to remain impoverished just so they can receive benefits. Restrictions prevent disabled people from being able to save up for large purchases and maintain emergency funds. This lack of financial stability is based on the idea that disabled people cannot drive, live by themselves, or attend a university; therefore, they don’t need the money to do any of that.

In most states, if a person is eligible for SSI, they are also eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a type of healthcare insurance that covers what many other insurances will not: medications, medical equipment, personal aid, and even transportation to appointments. Without these things, many people cannot live or function properly. Even those who are not considered disabled would not be able to live a full life without Medicaid (What Does Medicaid Cover?). Personally, without prescription drugs, medical equipment, inpatient hospital visits, and therapy, I would either not be alive right now, or I would be very sick.

Forcing people to choose between getting married to the love of their life and literally being alive is extremely cruel. To so many, marriage is such an important way to announce their love to the world. Think about why it was so important to so many people that same-sex marriage be legalized—it is a basic human right. It’s time we start recognizing SSI restrictions as a serious violation of human rights and begin calling for change. We will never have total marriage equality in the United States until disabled people can be married without consequence.

To find out more about disability activism and how you can help, check out the resources below:

Research: Treatment of Married Couples in the SSI Program

Disability Justice Is LGBT Justice

Honoring 30 years of the ADA | PFLAG

Disability Organizations

Contact your elected officials and ask them to bring up the issue at work: How to Contact Your Elected Officials

About Alayna Steward

Alayna Steward is a sophomore at Bradley University majoring in Music Business. They have been invested in music and writing their entire life. They are involved in a few musical groups on campus, including Bradley Chorale. They like strawberries, the color yellow, and cats. As a queer disabled person, Steward understands the importance of creative and self expression and having your voice be heard. They hope that their work will not only inspire readers, but also give them a voice and let them know that they are not alone.


Preserving Biodiversity

by Trent Miles

If we do not act now to protect biodiversity, the results could be dire—here’s why and here’s how you can help.

What does “endangered” mean? Species are usually considered jeopardized if there is any danger of eradication, which can be caused by numerous variables including climatic changes and adverse human impact. Therefore, with a specific end goal to illuminate whether certain species are at risk or not, there is a need to watch the patterns of the development and decay of these species and the reasons why they are in danger of extinction.

With respect to the arguments for animal security, biodiversity is one of the main points of conflict. “Biodiversity” means the variety of organic species, whether that is generally in the world or within a specific ecosystem. High biodiversity means a thriving ecosystem where plants and animals cohabitate in a systematic balance. Biodiversity is threatened nearly everywhere on the planet—from the Amazon to the new subdivision in your town. It is imperative that we take steps to protect these plants and animals. Many animals that have been wiped out are viewed as a sort of cultural awareness symbol. For example, we commonly associate elephants with the devastating effects ivory poaching has had on the species. Similarly, tiger pelts have become synonymous with the plight of endangered species, becoming an important image all over the world.

A point of contention among activists and regulatory agencies is the estimation of risk a species faces. Various plants considered at risk are profitable to humans. In particular, natural bug sprays, within the discipline of horticulture, come at a cost to many species. What do we stand to lose if we collectively continue to wipe out plants we have yet to research? It will have various negative impacts for humankind. In particular, tumors are of incredible significance, in light of the fact that the remedy for this ailment has not yet been found, and perhaps a portion of the types of plants being nearly annihilated would be important for taking care of the regularly expanding issue of disease.

Efforts coordinated towards the preservation of plant and animal life regularly upset the nearby enterprises, including cultivating and mining. These industries in turn assert that the pulverization of their endeavors hurts nature. They consort with specialists of homesteads and different enterprises that shift their stance to utilize unlawful methods for acquiring cash, and halting preservation.

Endangered species are no longer an advertised idea, or an image of an elephant you can’t do anything about. We need to share these stories. We need to reach out via social media and spread the word. We should also call and write legislators. With this information, let us save the animals, their homes, and the plants that could one day save us. Let’s act before it is too late.

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well-rounded student. Trent is the founder of his school’s Climate Action Club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Shield (school newspaper). Outside of school, he is heavily involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he currently serves as the Chapter Legislative Chair. Trent is also a writing intern for the New York-based platform LORYN, where he manages the featured artist page, interviews artists, finds talent, and more. He has earned several writing and Presidential Community Service awards. Trent contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service through various service projects, including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and helping at the Neighborhood House in Peoria, Illinois.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Aryanne “Ary” Westfall is a sophomore at Bradley University majoring in Animation and minoring in Theatre Arts. She is pursuing a career as a storyboard artist and enjoys creating graphic novels in her free time. As a member of the Digital Art Team, Westfall spends her time connecting with other artists and creating as much as she can.

Slowing Down Fast Fashion

by Katrika Tandon

Major retailers making the case for slow fashion.

As a college student, one of my biggest lifesavers is online shopping. With a click of a button, I can have whatever I need delivered to me in a matter of days. Of course, online shopping isn’t just used for necessities. Let’s talk fashion—who doesn’t love having countless outfit options available at your fingertips? Online retailers such as Shein and Fashion Nova have made clothes shopping more accessible with their plentiful options and affordable prices. This has led to the rise of fast fashion: a movement involving “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends,” as defined by Oxford Languages. However, the global consequences as well as ethical implications make us question: Is the convenience really worth it? 

Fast fashion negatively impacts our health as well as the overall health of the planet. The environmental impact of this industry is enormous; with areas of concern such as carbon emissions, water consumption, and large-scale pollution. According to Business Insider, the fashion industry releases 10% of total global carbon emissions—as much as the entire European Union. The manufacturing of textiles also relies on an overwhelming amount of water—approximately 700 gallons are used to produce just one cotton shirt. Individuals today are simply not as mindful about overconsumption. A 2015 documentary, The True Cost, states that the world consumes 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year. This is 400% times more than the consumption a mere 20 years ago. The average American generates 82 pounds of material waste each year, as 85% of all textiles go to dumps. The environmental consequences are only intensified because of constant demand.

A sort of counter movement is literally known as slow fashion: the case for halting excessive manufacturing and reducing mindless consumption overall. This movement advocates for production that respects the environment, species, and humanity. The Alliance for Sustainable Fashion launched by the UN focuses on stopping the “environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion.” Some retailers, such as Adidas, have committed to practices that use more sustainably sourced substances, involving products made of recycled materials.

The ethics behind this industry are finally being confronted. A 2019 World Resources Institute study showed that 80% of apparel is made by 18-24 year old women, specifically in developing nations. A 2018 US Department of Labor report found proof of coerced and child labor regarding the fashion industry in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, and the Philippines, among many others. Once again, this issue is only accelerated as a result of constant demand and rapid consumption. Profit gets prioritized over basic human welfare.

Overconsumption and similar issues have been a part of the fashion industry for the past 30 years. It’s a very large thing to change and we can start by demanding accountability from these brands and corporations. Certain companies, activist groups, and governments have already begun to pave the way so we can all look to a new and more promising direction—one which concentrates on more sustainable practices—leading to a healthier and more equitable future.

About Kratika Tandon

My name is Kratika Tandon and I am a sophomore at the University of Illinois atUrbana-Champaign. I’m planning on majoring in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Dimensions of the Environment and graduating with a minor in Political Sciences. I am interested in pursuing environmental law after graduation. I graduated from Dunlap High School in 2020 as class valedictorian. I am incredibly passionate about sustainability and am well-versed in writing about environmental issues, social justice, and racial equity. I am proficient in informative and expository writing as well as public speaking. I was a part of my high school’s speech team for the last four years and the president of our local Interact Club. I am currently a Communications Intern at the University’s Institute for Sustainability, Energy, andEnvironment. I enjoy working with a team and have strong leadership and communication skills. I love being a part of this program because I want to use my voice and writing to inspire others and facilitate change.

About Faith Marie

Faith Marie is a homeschooled senior in high school who dreams of being an artist entrepreneur one day. She fell in love with creating at a young age and now experiments with all kinds of mediums. You can find her on Instagram at @faithmariedraws.

Microaggression in the Classroom: The Long-Term Effects and Taking Accountability

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

They might seem inconsequential, but standing up against these small acts can have a big impact.

We all know that memories hold a strong significance in our lives. Whether it is an ‘A’ on a test, the first time you drove a car, or the family pet you got during a holiday, memories can help you cherish and hold the past dear. But what many of us avoid are the memories that traumatize us. As a Black Muslim girl, I have scarring memories and experiences that could have been avoided if the perpetrators involved educated themselves and reflected on how their words and delivery affect others. These incidents are called microaggressions.

A 2019 study at St. Olaf University defines the term microaggression as “a minor but frequent (often unconscious) interaction and incident that denigrates and invalidates people of certain social groups, such as a store owner following a customer of color around their shop, a teacher giving a Black student unsolicited extra help, or even someone assuming an Asian person can help solve a math or science question.” Microaggressions may seem minuscule to onlookers and perpetrators, but they often leave long-lasting effects on the victim. In elementary school, I remember wondering why I was the only student being told to be less aggressive when I voiced my opinion, or when the zero-tolerance policy only applied to the Black kids in the class. Because I was little, I did not know that these strange but recurring incidents were connected to a bigger issue. But I knew exactly how they made me feel: troublesome and inferior. The treatment I received had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the adults projecting their bias onto their students, especially ones of color. A 2013 research report conducted by University at North Carolina at Charlotte stated that “Although microaggressions are often unconscious, they may lead to mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, trauma, or issues with self-esteem.” All of these health issues and power dynamics underscore a need for change.

No student should ever be on the receiving end of microaggressions. School comes with many stressors and responsibilities, so for a student to have to carry the additional weight of implicit bias, their learning is strained. It is important that us youth watch out for signs of microaggression and stand up for victims subjected to it. And it’s important that teachers take responsibility for not only the academic, but also the mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of their students. They need to be aware of the struggle their students face and actively fight against it. Classes should assign guidelines for addressing microaggressions, and schools should foster an environment where students feel comfortable telling their stories without feeling judged or gaslighted. Holding our educators accountable can make a world of a difference. If we all work together, students and teachers alike will enjoy a more welcoming environment that does not shy away from accountability but instead embraces it. If needs are met, equity will be a closer reach for all.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

From Zoom to Room

by Kianna Goss

Staying open minded is key as we return to campus this fall. 

On February 17, 2021, Bradley University President Stephen Standifird announced face-to-face learning for the Fall 2021 semester. By June 30, 2021, Standifird communicated that students and employees are not required to be fully vaccinated once returning to campus. However, the university will continue its surveillance testing for individuals who are not vaccinated, and individuals who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask. This is a departure from the recent spring semester because the campus was not at full capacity. Only a few students had in-person classes, while the majority, including myself, were either half or fully remote.

In a previous article, I mentioned how as an exhausted college student, I missed the social life on campus. However, now that we will be moving into on-campus learning again in August after lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, frequent COVID-19 testing, and social distancing, I feel the transition back may be overwhelming. 

As a word to the wise, stay open minded this fall from “Zoom to room” as we slowly transition back. There will no longer be opportunities to be “in class” with your pajamas on, unless the pandemic has completely changed your entire wardrobe to comfy P.J.’s. Then, for vaccinated individuals, going from wearing masks 24/7 to not wearing masks at all, will seem abnormal. Honestly, I believe the idea of socializing will feel weird because most individuals missed out on a whole year of interacting with peers.

If your university’s plan is to return all students to in-person next school year, here are a few tips on how to deal with the anxiety.

According to Anne Dennon, writer for the Best Colleges website, students who are feeling extra stress should take advantage of the counseling services available to them. This could be beneficial because individuals will be able to talk with a professional about their feelings and make their transition back to campus a little easier.

Dennon also suggests informing your instructors/academic advisor of your difficulty adjusting. Students were not the only ones impacted by the pandemic, so were the professors. Therefore, having an open conversation with your professors can give them a better understanding of how to operate the classroom and be a little more aware of your feelings/concerns. 

Finally, I personally suggest finding clubs or staying active in clubs you were previously involved in. Getting back to your normal routine is key and actively doing things you love can take your mind off the stress you may be feeling. Plus, you never know who else might need the company. 

As students, we mostly know things won’t feel the same. For most of us, the classroom atmosphere will feel strange. But the goal for transitioning back to campus is to be open-minded about returning and getting back to the social side of college. If readjusting gets hard this fall, please reach out to people around you, and know it’s always okay to contact the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) 240-485-1001.

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a junior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. Community involvement requires the use of one’s voice; in Goss’s case, her voice, which she expresses through writing, is one of the strongest platforms she has. Being a Black woman, Goss often writes to give a voice to the Black community. In doing so, she gains control over a media narrative that portrays the Black community in a negative way. As a writer who expresses herself through many different forms expressions, she has written poetry, blogs, newspaper articles, and opinion pieces. She is always looking for more opportunities to grow as a writer and personally. Goss is involved in many organizations at Bradley University. She is currently the marketing/ communications director for Bradley’s Communication Agency, a peer mentor for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a writer for the student newspaper The Bradley Scout, and a caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what Goss loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspire to be.

Who is “That Girl?”

by Adeline Ferolo 

Exploring the Relationship Between Consumer Culture and Social Media…

What is the physical embodiment of consumer culture, with sprinkles of Eurocentric beauty standards, colonialism, and outdated patriarchal expectations… all wrapped into Lulu Lemon leggings and sporting an iced matcha latte? It, or more specifically “she,” is #ThatGirl. At first glance, this aesthetically pleasing viral (and ambiguous) young woman promotes a seemingly attainable, well-rounded lifestyle. Practices of self-care including workout, meditation, and journaling comprise the trend, promoting a self-reliant, health-focused way of life. Yet, this is the trend’s main deception—the #ThatGirl aesthetic defines and therefore expects this lifestyle from the “ordinary” woman.

This implied expectation of standards is mentioned in a TikTok video by feminist @rogueweasel, explaining how, “Womanhood is treated as a project, like something to be good at.” While the #ThatGirl persona encourages self-care, it simultaneously expects said self-care routine to produce a woman who fits into the marketplace’s idealized standard. Brands and their pseudo-famous #ThatGirl influencers ensure this standard is only attainable through the purchase of over-priced wellness supplements, on-trend clothes (often from fast-fashion retailers), and fancy gym memberships, creating a self-feeding cycle. Viral videos embodying this trend ultimately define the physical expectation of #ThatGirl as having Eurocentric features, lighter skin, and smaller frames. While mainstream media has hesitantly welcomed body positivity, the small, white, and “effortless” female figure is still regarded as the ultimate ideal body type. The #ThatGirl aesthetic glorifies beauty and fitness lifestyles by promising that this “perfect,” marketable, physical image is attainable and desirable for every woman.

But this physical representation is not the image of an average woman, let alone the “ideal” woman. Jia Tolentino explains this phenomenon in her book Trick Mirror, summarizing, “These days it is more psychologically seamless than ever for an ordinary woman to spend her life walking towards the idealized mirage of her own self-image. The ideal woman has always been conceptually overworked, an inorganic thing engineered to look natural.” This trend is the product of an over-stimulated capitalist and patriarchal society, in which to be viewed as a woman you must meet the demands of popular opinion. 

With social media setting these standards and consumer culture driving them, it is impossible to achieve this lifestyle in real life. Ultimately, the perception of an ideal woman is an image that can be advertised, sold, and rebranded in an endless cycle to a world of insatiable consumers. Expediting this cycle are the billions of social media users who are constantly inundated with the newest viral trends, and consequently marketplace standards. Pre-social media, circa early 2000s, print magazines and television commercials were stuffed with A-list celebrities promoting everything from high-end retail to Pepsi. With an A-list celebrity endorsement, any consumer was promised a famous lifestyle drenched with wealth and success (with purchase of product). Now, with easy access to short-term fame, or becoming viral, the average social media user can become the next popular content creator. This creates a constant pressure to present a perfect, glamorous lifestyle on social media in an attempt to generate likes, shares, and comments. The #ThatGirl trend capitalizes on this seemingly accessible “famous” lifestyle to advertise the mental, physical, and social wellbeing of women, commoditizing their livelihood into an object to be purchased.   

About Adeline Ferolo

Stories, arguably, are the most underrated form of currency that floods the digital world, through highlighted Instagram posts and viral YouTube videos. As a rising senior at Richwoods High School, Adeline Ferolo aims to express herself and the issues closest to her authentically through engaging, storytelling, and other mediums. She is a competitively academic student. Her interests range across many creative outlets—as an active writer for the Richwoods Shield, the monthly school newspaper, and as a contributor to the youth-led blog EnviroWrite, which explores rising environmental concerns. Recently she has discovered her passion for the medium of film after attending the National High School Institute summer program at Northwestern University, where she had previously studied creative-intensive subjects ranging from sustainable architecture to graphic design. Within the past year, she has focused her efforts on exploring the visual medium in both her academic and personal life, opting to create experimental videos for class projects and continuing to explore different aspects of the visual language.

Investing In Our Planet

by Neve Kelley

Sustainable practices are now mainstream.

Everything we create has an impact on our planet. There are multiple things severely threatening it, but clothing production is one of the biggest. While there are so many “traditional” clothing companies actively worsening the problem, there are increasingly more brands embracing change for the future. 

Patagonia is one of the well-known brands that acknowledges and addresses their environmental impact. Created by a group of climbers and surfers, the company was built to limit ecological impact and create products that could benefit our Earth. As they note on their website, “At Patagonia, we appreciate that all life on Earth is under threat of extinction. We’re using the resources we have—our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations—to do something about it.” To reduce their carbon footprint, 64% of the materials Patagonia is using comes from recycled fibers. Switching to these recycled materials cut down nearly 3,000 metric tons of CO₂e, which is enough energy to power 350 homes for one year. Patagonia also strictly uses organically grown cotton, which reduces water consumption and carbon emissions by 45%. Setting the standard for transparency, Patagonia’s website encourages customer engagement by providing insight into how their clothing is made. Learn about Patagonia’s Environmental and Social Responsibility Programs here and here.

Reformation is another widely popular eco-friendly brand. Initially a vintage store, they quickly transitioned to produce eco-conscious clothing. Each week, they put out small quantities of limited-edition pieces, making their production right-sized for their demand. With a mission to bring sustainable fashion to everyone, Reformation is becoming the future of fashion. By sourcing electricity from 100% wind power suppliers, recycling, composting, and donating or recycling their textile waste, Reformation helps to ease the burden that the fashion industry has placed on the environment. The brand has a goal for zero waste—they currently recycle 75% of their garbage and hope to soon surpass 85%. The clothing company has also adopted Environmentally Preferred Purchasing policies, meaning almost everything they need to operate their business is environmentally friendly. Plus, they have been 100% carbon neutral since 2015, which means they have balanced their carbon emissions out through climate action and have achieved net-zero carbon emissions. Reformation is clearly investing in and changing the future of the fashion industry, and our planet. Visit this site to read more about Reformation’s sustainable practices.

These are just two of the many brands pushing for fashion to become more sustainable. While it can be a significant lifestyle change for some of us to switch to these sustainable clothing brands, I encourage you to investigate it! We are not able to control many of the things that threaten our planet, which is why supporting sustainable fashion is particularly important. We have the power to make a change—and even a small change can go a long way. 

About Neve Kelley

Neve Kelley and is an International Baccalaureate student at Richwoods High School. In addition to being in an academically rigorous program, she is heavily involved in community and school theatre productions. Kelley takes private voice lessons, training in musical theatre and opera, and has been involved in choir and madrigals. Kelley is also a writer for the news section of the school paper, a Student Council senator, in various school clubs, and active in community service. Most Recently, she became a volunteer for Her Drive, a nonprofit aimed at providing bras, mensural products, and general hygiene products to help end period poverty. As part of that effort, she hosted a month-long drive in Peoria to help those in need.

Pride in My Peoria

by Molly Deadmond

A series profiling the fascinating locals that
you probably haven’t heard of…!

Growing up in Peoria, I never gave much thought to the history of the area or its people. In nearly 22 years, the most prominent Peorians I had heard of were comedian Richard Pryor, who influenced generations of comedians globally, and Susan G. Komen—a woman whose death from breast cancer spurred her sister Nancy Brinker to form the largest breast cancer foundation in the United States, tackling issues of advocacy and resources for patients. I remember hearing an announcement every year for the Race for the Cure, and seeing the city decorated in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s iconic pink color. I hadn’t known about Richard Pryor’s connection to the city until I was well into high school, and it took me several years after that to look into who he was and what he was known for.

Recently, I began to wonder, “If I didn’t know about Komen and Pryor—two of the most well-known Peorians to exist—who else did I not know about?” Upon joining Big Picture Initiative as an intern, I was assigned the task of creating a list of notable Peorians nominated for the Portraits of Peoria project. This project, which is a collaboration between Big Picture, Discover Peoria, and ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, is producing a series of portraits created by local artists displayed on the Central Building at the corner of Main and Adams streets in downtown Peoria. This gave me an opportunity to research nearly 50 people whose efforts have impacted Peoria… and the world.

During my research, the Peoria Public Library became an invaluable resource. There were many people whose information could be found with a short Google search, but there were some—like former president of the Peoria chapter of the NAACP John Gwynn—whose information was much harder to find. Luckily, the Local History/Genealogy room at the downtown branch was there to help. After submitting a list of names, I was contacted with those they were able to find, and I scheduled a visit to look at the appropriate documents.

Through my research, I have come across many fascinating people, like Norman V. Kelly. Kelly was a retired private investigator-turned-author, whose works span short stories, novels, and articles, ranging from murder mystery fiction to historical accounts of Peoria. Or Annie Turnbo Malone, a chemist and entrepreneur who developed and manufactured hair care and beauty products specifically for Black women. She became one of the first African American woman to be a millionaire. Today, her name lives on via a series of beauty schools across the nation.

Learning so much about my hometown and the people that emerged from it has been an amazing experience; one I encourage others to start. A quick Google search regarding influential people from your school or neighborhood can get you started, and resources such as the Peoria Public Library can help supply more information. In the coming Giving Voice issues, I’ll be writing about the individuals displayed in the Portraits of Peoria project. Next month will be a profile on feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan.

About Molly Deadmond

Molly Deadmond is a recent graduate of Eureka College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. Born and raised in Peoria, IL, Deadmond has a deep love for her community, and hopes to contribute to making her hometown a better place for all. Deadmond is a lover of all things creative, with a special love for creative writing. She believes that art is a form of therapy and escape that anyone can enjoy, regardless of talent or skill level. She enjoys video games, nature, and spending time with the ones she loves.