On Wednesday evening, five politically engaged Illinoisans traveled to Washington, D.C. ahead of Thursday’s final day of confirmation hearings in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. They each said it was necessary – regardless of the outcome – to be present in the nation’s capital for this historic moment.
Deborah Harris, 32, Chicago
“I have a global lens, and understand that we do not live in a political vacuum. Local politics and national politics are inherently connected. I was here during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and I felt it was necessary to be here for this. I feel called to help wake up the consciousness of this nation. I want to help people pay better attention and get involved in their government. We must not let what’s happening in our country continue to happen.”
Hope Pickett, 40, Chicago
“I’m here because I believe Illinoisans need to pay attention to how our politics intersect, from the local to the national scale. Our country is in a crisis and now I have to do more and show up where I can. I’m supporting raising national consciousness.”
Valerie Simutis, 49, Chicago
“I came because I knew I needed to be here. This is so important not just for us right now, but for the next generation. Amy Coney Barrett is young, and she’ll sit on the Supreme Court for a very long time. Even though we all know there’s not a lot we can do, we still need to make our voices heard and let our lawmakers know we are here – and understand that [this nomination] is a travesty.”
LaJoya Noble, 37, Kankakee
“I have known Deborah for 25 years, so when she called me to ask if I would come with her, I came running. I have always been active in social justice. But, this nomination is so important, it affects so much. I needed to come and support. I feel like everything in my life has been building up to this moment that we’re in now.
I have been protesting for 150 days straight. I’ve been in 10 different states just this year to protest. This is my calling.”
Travis C. Miller, 33, Kankakee
“We have been marching for 150 days, and I am actually the lead organizer of Kankakee’s Black Lives Matter Movement. And, I know we have not only been raising awareness about the injustices Black men and women face, but also about the injustices that immigrants and LGBTQ folks face in America. We have continued to fight for those who have faced hardships from COVID-19.
We do not believe that the focus of the current administration is to listen and adhere to the voices of those who are marching in the streets demanding justice. Amy Coney Barrett is not the right person for our Supreme Court. There needs to be a fair system in place like when Obama tried to nominate a judge during an election year.
We feel the next administration should be able to choose and appoint the next justice.”