Monday, November 23, 2020

UIS History professor, two alumni part of an Emmy Award-winning film shot at the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots

“Face to Face,” a short film featuring Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese reading a powerful poem he wrote from inside the remains of black-owned homes that were burned in the 1908 Springfield Race Riots was honored with an Emmy in the Short Format Program category during the virtual 2020 Mid-America Emmy Award on Saturday. 

University of Illinois Springfield Assistant Professor of History Devin Hunter approached The Storyteller Studios with the idea of creating the short film, while they were documenting the archaeological work at the Race Riot site. Hunter connected Storyteller with Dr. Wesley Robinson-McNeese and his powerful poem. 

The Emmy was awarded to The Storyteller Studios’ Chris Costello, who served as director, cinematographer and editor, and to Josh Hester, who serves Storyteller as executive producer. Costello earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from UIS in 2015 and Hester earned a master’s degree in communication from UIS in 2009. 

Hunter said, he hoped the film and the poem would help anyone that watches it focus on the victims of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and especially to its lasting impact on the community and the work that needs to be done towards racial justice and equality today. 

“All possible credit is due to Wes, and his remarkable poem,” Hunter said. “The entire project started with his powerful words, and I'm proud that this honor may bring more attention to this amazing work.”  

The Emmy award-winning video was produced through the University of Illinois and funded by the University of Illinois Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts & Humanities and created as a part of The Humanities Innovating New Knowledge (T.H.I.N.K.) Project. 

You can watch the film at

Thursday, November 19, 2020

UIS Professor Richard Gilman-Opalsky writes new book on “The Communism of Love”

University of Illinois Springfield Political Science Professor Richard Gilman-Opalsky has written a new book on “The Communism of Love: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Exchange Value.”

According to the publisher, the book explores the meaning and power of love from Ancient Greece to the present day. Gilman-Opalsky argues that what is called “love” by the best thinkers to have approached the subject is in fact the beating heart of communism—that is, communism understood as a human yearning and way of life, not as a form of government. Along the way, Gilman-Opalsky demonstrates that the capitalist method of assigning value to things is incapable of appreciating what humans treasure most. Exchange value cannot appropriately value the experiences and relationships that make our lives worth living. Capital can only value love by turning it into a commodity, but the commodification of love destroys it.

“The Communism of Love” follows the struggles of love in different contexts of race, class, gender and sexuality, and shows how the aspiration for love is as close as we may get to a universal communist aspiration.

“In this beautifully crafted book, Richard Gilman-Opalsky persuasively uncovers and explores an ‘irreducibly antagonistic relationship of love to capitalist exchange value.’ Refusing to submit to the all-too-common reduction of love to sex, he points to the emergence of communist love during moments of uprising and resistance,” writes George Katsiaficas, author of “The Subversion of Politics,” in reviewing the book.

Gilman-Opalsky, the 2018 University Scholar award winner, is the author of five previous books, including “Specters of Revolt” and “Precarious Communism.” He earned his Ph.D. in political science from The New School for Social Research in 2006. He also earned master’s and bachelor's degrees in philosophy from The New School for Social Research and Hofstra University, respectively.

“The Communism of Love” is published by AK Press and will be released on Dec. 1, 2020. The book can be purchased on the publisher’s website at, on Amazon and from other online retailers.

For more information, contact Gilman-Opalsky at 217-206-8328 or

Sunday, November 01, 2020

UIS student Kodi Smith honored with the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois

Kodi Smith of Taylorville has been selected as the University of Illinois Springfield student recipient of the Student Laureate Award from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Only one UIS student is honored with the prestigious award each academic year.

“As I was reading my nomination letter, I immediately thought to myself, ‘This is too good to be true.' I began researching the award online and realized just how great of an honor it is to be named a Student Laureate,” Smith said. “It feels good to have my hard work be acknowledged by others.”

Smith, a senior biology major at UIS who graduated from Taylorville High School, plans on attending medical school and becoming a trauma surgeon following completion of her bachelor’s degree.

At UIS, she is a member of National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi) and the Pre-Health Society, a group of students who are interested in working in the medical field. She has volunteered with the group multiple times at Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach where she helped package unused medical equipment and send it to countries who are in need of the supplies.

“Experiences like this one make me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself as I am helping people who are thousands of miles away from me,” she said.

In 2019, Smith started working as a medical scribe in a hospital emergency room, which she calls an “opportunity of a lifetime,” adding that she has gained a plethora of medical knowledge. She more recently spent time shadowing an ear, nose, and throat surgeon.

“It has given me insight into the medical field that I thought I would not be able to obtain until I was at least in medical school,” she said.

Through a UIS internship, she also worked as a cancer research intern at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine this past fall.

“While there, I would culture cells, apply different medicines and treatments to cell colonies, and perform various experiments,” she said. “The doctor who I performed research under was trying to find a cure for cancer through his experiments and he gave me an appreciation for the research aspect of the medical field.”

When she was in high school, Smith was actively involved in a variety of extracurricular activities, including being a part of Taylorville’s cheer team for six years where she got the chance to travel to London, England to perform in their New Year’s Day Parade and earned the title All-American cheerleader.

She was also very involved in band in high school. She participated in four honor bands, was named a District Musician for two years and an All-State Musician. Her senior year she was named an Illinois State Scholar and Illinois Ambassador of Music and was able to travel and perform concerts in several European countries.

Her other high school involvement included National Honor Society, FFA and Key Club where she spent a significant amount of time volunteering.

“If I apply the skills I have obtained through my high school and college career thus far, I believe I can be successful with my future and have a rewarding career,” she said.

Each year an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois is awarded the Student Lincoln Academy Medallion and thereby becomes a Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities and receive a $500 stipend.