By Clarissa Gaff, Executive Director of Land of Lincoln Legal Aid
East St. Louis, IL, has raised some remarkable Illinoisans—nay, some remarkable Americans: Katherine Dunham, Miles Davis, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Jimmy Connors, and Senator Dick Durbin, to name a few. It is a tight-knit community of nearly 20,000, with a rich history. It is also a community that is incredibly challenged, haunted by a race massacre, white flight, and industry abandonment and pollution from its heyday. More than a third of residents live in poverty. A full quarter of its residents live in aging subsidized housing.