Latest News

The origins of many different styles of music are difficult to trace. But one is unquestionably all American. Jazz is widely credited with having gotten its start in New Orleans, growing out of American blues and ragtime music popular around the turn of the 20th century. While its roots are in the American South, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time got started right here in Illinois.

The great Miles Davis was born in Alton, Illinois, on May 26, 1926. The Davis family lived in a middle-class neighborhood on Milnor Street in Alton before moving to East St. Louis. Miles’ classical musician mother, Cleota, encouraged young Miles to pursue the violin. But he instead chose to take musical advice from his dentist father and went on to learn the trumpet. It was a fateful choice.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement on the signing of House Bill 3653 into law: 

“The Governor’s support of House Bill 3653 is an insult to our first responders, law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who want to be free from violence and destruction from the criminal element. It’s clear that Governor Pritzker does not understand this bill and what it means to our criminal justice system. Illinois and its citizens will not be safer because of this bill. 

We live in a civilized state where our elected officials’ greatest responsibility is the health and safety of Illinois citizens. This past year, Chicago has been traumatized with epic acts of violence through murders and carjackings with no apparent end in sight. At a crucial time when we should coalesce around the good men and women of law enforcement, Governor Pritzker has turned his back on them with his signature on House Bill 3653.”

Illinois State Representative Ryan Spain talks about gerrymandering, redistricting, fair maps and protecting your vote in this Leading Voices podcast episode. 

Learn more about Rep. Spain:


Gov. Pritzker’s Budget Proposal Places Burden on Families and Job Creators. On Wednesday, February 17, Governor JB Pritzker presented his FY22 Budget proposal and “State of the State” virtual address to the Illinois General Assembly. 

The Governor’s budget proposal includes nearly $1 billion in new taxes on job creators. Illinois has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs since the start of this pandemic. Given the massive job losses and the Governor’s utter failure to fix the unemployment benefits mess at IDES, it is outrageous for him to propose eliminating important job creation incentives that are desperately needed to revitalize our economy. 

Since the dawn of flight, Illinoisans have been soaring into the heavens. Whether it was helping the Wright Brothers get off the ground, crossing an ocean or flying to the moon, Illinois aviators have been at the forefront of making history in flight. In the late 1930s another Illinoisan took a crucial step that opened the doors of aviation to many more Americans who sought to spread their wings.

Willa Brown was born January 22, 1906, and spent her early years as a Chicago social worker and a schoolteacher. But she wanted something more. Coming of an age in an era in which the daring trailblazers were aviators, she sought to become a pilot herself. She was inspired in part by Bessie Coleman of Chicago who had become the world’s first African American woman pilot when she earned a pilot’s license in France.


Meet the new Rules, same as the old Rules. On Wednesday, February 10, the Illinois House of Representatives met for a one-day session at the State Capitol. For the first time in nearly a year, the House met for session in the House chambers, following CDC guidelines for social distancing and requiring smaller groups of legislators to come to the floor separately to cast their votes in a staggered manner.

The purpose of the one-day session was to adopt the new House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly. After promising reforms and declaring that it was a new day for the House, new Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch and his House Democratic Caucus rammed through partisan Rules that made few substantive changes to the Rules enforced for decades by former Speaker Michael J. Madigan. 
Abraham Lincoln and Ward Lamon (seated)
at Army of Potomac headquarters, 1862. 
In the stunned silence following the President’s unexpectedly brief comments dedicating the national cemetery at Gettysburg, a downcast Abraham Lincoln returned to his seat and dejectedly recalled a prairie idiom for ineffectiveness. “That speech won’t scour,” Lincoln said. “It is a flat failure.”

But the President’s perspective was not shared by the man sitting next to him on the stage, who looked over the crowd and saw not disappointment but awe at the majestic words just spoken. Seeking to reassure his friend that his speech had been anything but a failure, Ward Lamon, a longtime Lincoln associate from Illinois, thus became the first of millions to argue that Lincoln had in fact delivered the greatest Presidential speech in American history.