J.D. Dixon has scheduled many different protests in the area. However, there has been one underlying link between all of them — civil rights.

The Edwardsville area has many different activist groups people can get involved in. Different types of organizations exist in the area, ranging from civil rights, environmental activism, housing- related activism and more.

One of these local activist groups is Empire 13, headed by J.D. Dixon, one of

the group’s founders.

Founded recently, Empire 13 is an organization that originated when Dixon and some of his coworkers from Empire Comfort Systems stood up to racial discrimination within the company.

“[We’re] a grassroots organization that champions the cause for racial socioeconomic and environmental justice reform,” Dixon said.

Dixon said being a part of Empire 13 is something he values greatly, and he sees the younger generations as the future of reform and equality.

“[Being a part of Empire 13] means you care about the community. It means not only that you care about the future and the infrastructure of the Black community in America as a whole … [but] that you care for the future of the country and that you want equality and equity for all,” Dixon said.

Empire 13’s next event is a community outreach at 6 p.m. August 31, at the Sunshine Cultural Arts Center.

To get involved in Empire 13, you can visit their Facebook or Instagram, as well as Dixon’s Facebook page.

Another local civil rights organization is the Edwardsville branch of the NAACP. Walter Williams, president of the Edwardsville NAACP, said the branch in this area has been around for many years and was formed to fight racial inequality in the school system after schools were integrated.

One of the more recent items the NAACP has gotten involved with is the moving of the Ninian Edwards statue, but the group collaborates with surrounding institutions as well.

“We have a very active role with our cultural as well as public institutions, being SIUE [and] Madison County … If there is ever an issue, we are there to address that issue alongside the leadership at that organization,” Williams said.

For Williams, being a part of the NAACP is to make sure that he can help educate those around him to understand both sides of issues.

“This is a civil rights organization that’s been around for a long time. It has been a proponent of equality and diversity within our community … by working with this organization that has been around and been established, it gives you a bigger platform to express yourself and be involved and be engaged with those issues,” Williams said.

This year, the NAACP is getting involved in wealth building to try and help their community.

To get involved in the NAACP, visit their Facebook page or their website.

One of the more political activist groups is the League of Women Voters of the Edwardsville Area. Carol Gerdt, treasurer of the organization, said she has been a member of the organization since 1999, and has held different positions throughout her time.

“The national league was started in 1920 when women got the right to vote [and] our local league was started in 1954 … We research different topics and provide informational presentations to the public,” Gerdt said.

Gerdt said there have been various items the organization has focused on throughout the years such as housing integration in the ‘50s, and are currently working on a housing study and a criminal reform study.

“We work on local positions, but we also have affiliation with the state League of Women Voters and the national League of Women Voters, and most of our dues actually go to them,” Gerdt said. “We are an organization that has a lot of positions on different issues, but we are nonpartisan and we never support any individual candidate for any office, so it’s just issues that we

support, not individuals.”

Gerdt said some of the big issues they focus on are voter registration and candidate forums.

To get involved in the League of Women Voters of the Edwardsville Area, visit their Facebook page or website.

For other organizations directly related to SIUE through campus organizations, visit the GetInvolved website.

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