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State Rep. Carol Ammons speaks earlier this year at the UI College of Law about criminal justice reform as Governor J.B. Pritzker looks on.

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In an "open letter to the people of the 103rd" district issued Friday, state Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) addressed last weekend's exit as as chairwoman of the House Democratic conference.

It read:

It was important to me to be reflective before I issued this statement. I came to Springfield to fight to bring equity to a system that is failing many and I will not apologize for that. There is no title or amount of money that will take me off of that position. My family lives by this motto, “I will not compromise my dignity, and I will not violate the dignity of others!” So whatever my post, you can count on me to be who I am demanded to be, for the people I serve.

The year that I was born in 1972, Shirley Chisolm stated; “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” In January 2021, my work ethic and diligence to represent the constituents of the 103rd and the people of the state of Illinois earned me an invite to bring my ‘folding chair’ to the “leadership” table.

This position was created to unite a vision for holistic democratic values that encompassed traditional, progressive, moderate, and the varying needs within the party. It was also established to ensure we, as a Democratic unit, were upholding and fighting for both the voices of the heard, but more critically the voices of the unheard.

I approached this role with the same fearlessness, fight, and ferocity that I have throughout my over 20-year career as an activist/organizer, as well as my 15 years in public service; 5 years on the Champaign County Board, 2 years as an Alderwoman in Urbana, and 7 years as a state legislator. I brought to the role the same tenacious fire I had when I Co-founded Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, as a member of the NAACP, working to pass prison reform legislation, temporary workers rights, protection of the Mahomet Aquifer, repeal the criminalization of people living with HIV and access to affordable higher education.

I had the same passion when I helped move the four Pillars to end systemic racism with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and when I advocated with all my might to ensure the historic vote of the first African American Speaker of the House of Representatives in Illinois’ over 200-year history.

During the course of my journey, as a Black woman and leader, I have always been unapologetic in my fight for truth, justice, and equity. My work is steeped in authenticity and integrity. To be clear, my journey has borne witness to the reality that inequities and the need to demand respect exists on all levels.

And while I know I have not compromised my dignity or violated anyone else’s, on May 29, 2021, I was asked to take my folding chair to another table. As an activist/organizer it has always been important to highlight the contradictions within the society, organizations, or relationships. In the seven years I’ve been in Springfield I have witnessed the exact same argument be received differently based on the gender and/or the hue of the skin of the person delivering it. That reality was never a deterrent for me prior to being given a seat at the table of “leadership” and it will not be a deterrent for me going forward. I was taught that leadership is honest work and correct thinking and therefore can come from anyone at any time.

As your Representative, I wanted you all to know that I remain committed to working honestly and being well prepared to offer the correct analysis of any bill I work on, or any relationship that develops while working on your behalf. In short, I will continue to offer leadership whether my folding chair has a space at the table, or if I have to pick it up and move it to another location!

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