It’s summer in C-U, and that means there is no shortage of events and activities to fill your time. Let's get to it.

Wear Orange

Every year, the first Friday of June is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and the first weekend is designated as Wear Orange. This initiative began after Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who marched in Barack Obama’s inaugural parade in 2013, was shot and killed. Her friends wore orange, her favorite color and the color hunters wear to protect themselves, to honor her memory. It has become the color of the gun violence prevention movement, worn specifically this weekend to raise awareness about gun violence. It’s difficult to not be aware of the horrific epidemic of gun violence — in all of its forms — across our nation and here in Champaign-Urbana. What people do need to be aware of is ways to take action. June 3-5, choose to wear orange, then find a small way to support gun violence prevention efforts. Join Moms Demand Action by texting READY to 644-33 then ask to join the local group. The House of Representatives passed gun legislation years ago. Contact Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and ask them to continue to push for the Senate to take it up. Even though they support common sense gun legislation, they need to hear from us. Locally, seek out organizations that are working with those most impacted by gun violence: CU Trauma and Resilience, First Followers, HV Neighborhood Transformation, DREAAM, Don Moyers Boys and Girls Club…just to name a few. See if they have volunteer or donation needs. Do something.

Photo by Jessica Hammie.


Keeping with the theme of political action, please take the time to vote. Yes, it is the primaries, and there are many races that aren’t contested. But there are a few, including the IL-13 congressional seat that is now without an incumbent due to redistricting. With everything that’s going on, it’s easy to disengage and say fuck it all. Please don’t. We are fortunate to have ample opportunities for voting in Champaign County, with few hurdles. You can now vote by mail and have your name place on a permanent vote by mail list, so that you automatically receive your ballot for subsequent elections. You have until June 23rd to request to vote by mail, and you return your ballot by mail, to a polling place, or to one of the secure drop boxes throughout the county. Early in person voting has begun. You can find locations and the schedule for that on the County Clerk’s website. Primary election day is June 28th, and you can vote then too. Find your polling place, check your registration, find your sample ballot, and get all the election-related info you need to know on the clerk’s website.

Photo from Uniting Pride of Champaign County Facebook page.

Celebrate Pride

It’s National Pride Month, and even though our Pride Fest is in the fall, there are several opportunities to celebrate throughout C-U. Uniting Pride has some events planned, both family friendly and 18+, beginning with a kick off party at NOLA’s Rock Bar on June 5th.

The Literary is hosting Queer Tango, a dance event that will “focus on creating safe spaces of improvisation unburdened by presumptions of gender roles,” on June 5th at 7 p.m.

If you haven’t made it to the Sewn in Memory: AIDS Quilt Panels from Central Illinois exhibit at Spurlock Museum yet, this is a great time to check it out. On June 11th at 1:30 p.m. there will be a panel discussion with Jerry Carden, co-founder of Greater Community AIDS Project; Mike Benner, current Executive Director of GCAP; and Julie Pryde, Public Health Administrator, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District about the AIDS crisis in this area. 

This year’s Odd Market is happening on June 18th in Tuscola, in coordination with the Tuscola GSA Booster Club Pound the Pavement for Pride 5k color run/walk. The race starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by a pancake breakfast, then the Odd Market will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with makers, artists, vintage sellers and non-profits. There will be a drag show at 7 p.m., and Highway Heartburn food truck will be around serving food. The annual market is hosted by the Odd Fellow Lodge #316 in Tuscola. It’s their biggest fundraiser, helping them further their mission to “improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane; to extend sympathy and aid to those in need, making their burdens lighter, relieving the darkness of despair; to war against vice in every form, and to be a great moral power and influence for the good of humanity.” Read more about the Tuscola lodge in our article from a few years ago.

Photo by Stephen Kemp.

Recognize Juneteenth

The Champaign Park District is hosting a Juneteenth event at Douglass Park on June 18th from 12 to 3 p.m. in honor of the day the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galvaston, Texas. The actual date is June 19th, and since it is now a federal holiday, it will be federally observed on June 20th this year. The celebration will have area vendors, music, arts and crafts, and a bounce house. 217 Black Restaurant Weekend doesn’t seem to be happening this year, but maybe glance back at our editorial from February for some ideas on supporting Black restaurants and businesses.

Top photo by Erin Ewoldt.